Close To Home

So I was reading a post by Albert Mohler on the inconsistency of Evangelicals in fighting abortion and homosexuality yet being very silent on the topic of divorce. I am no right-wing, legislate Christian morality, conservative type of guy. I don’t think these are government matters (for the most part), but I think the reasons behind the difference in how we look at homosexuality and abortion as compared to divorce are very telling about us as people.

As Mohler points out divorces impact reaches far more people than either homosexuality or abortion. He says this to explain the importance of speaking out against divorce with at least the same vigor and persistence as abortion and homosexuality. I don’t know that I agree with the conclusion, but I think the statement demonstrates why Christians are less willing to fight against divorce: it is an issue that hits much closer to home. It is easy to fight the “bad guys” on the other side of an issue. It is easy to condemn those who kill unborn babies because we can’t imagine taking part in something so awful, or to look down on gays because we can’t relate with their unnatural desires, but it is much more difficult to look in condemnation at those who have gotten divorced simply because we have gotten divorced or someone we love has gotten divorced. Divorce is much harder to condemn because we see and know and love many people who have gone through it.

So what does this mean? To me it means that maybe we should reconsider how we approach all of these things and all of these people. Maybe we shouldn’t be so violently hateful and vicious toward those who agree with abortion and homosexuality. Maybe we should start seeing them as people, people who have been hurt, people who are struggling to understand themselves and the world around them, people who can get confused or overwhelmed or misled. Women who get abortions are just like us. Homosexuals are just like us. Maybe if we understood that our hate and malicious attitudes would change to love and encouragement and support for people who are normally hurting very badly and very confused about life. We love people who have been divorced, why can’t we love people who have abortions? Why can’t we love gay people?

Maybe I’m way off, maybe the reasons Christians are more willing to accept people who have been divorced are not what I think they are. I don’t know, but I do know that there are a lot of people out there who need help and hope and maybe some of them are gay and maybe some of them are pro choice. Does that make them our enemies?

I would just like to note that this issue is important to me, not because I am gay or pro choice, but because I have been through a divorce, I understand the way people feel going through this difficult time, and I know how painful and hard it is. The solution is not to now add divorced people to the list of villains, but to seriously consider throwing away our list of villains and sharing the love of Christ with all people.

What do you think?

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About Dan Allen

Just some guy trying to figure stuff out... View all posts by Dan Allen

13 responses to “Close To Home

  • Alan Knox

    I think you’re right. It would be better if people knew us more for what we’re for than for what we’re against. Evangelicalism today is known more for what its against.

    I do think there is a place for telling people what you believe about divorce, abortion, homosexuality, or anything else. But, love should always come first and should never end, regardless of what the person decides to do.

    -Alan

  • Dan Allen

    Alan

    I agree that there is nothing wrong with being open about what we think about any subject, or what we believe the Bible has to say about any subject. I wouldn’t want to mislead someone into thinking something is ok that I believe the Bible says is not. I only question the way we go about expressing that. A loving rebuke is not the same thing as hurtful condemnation. Obviously there are times when people will be offended by what I believe the Bible says regarding an issue, but I can’t stop that. What i can stop is being malicious and hurtful toward people I disagree with, or who do things that I believe are wrong. They are the people I want to convince, so alienating them with hate and anger obviously won’t do much good to bring that about.

    Thanks for the comment!

    Dan

  • Fred

    I think one reason why evangelicals don’t speak out against divorce like they do against homosexuality and abortion is that with the latter two it’s easy to just tell someone that they are a sinner and that they need to give that up. There’s no work involved in preventing those, so the church can sit back and point fingers.

    Divorce shows the failure of the church in not teaching a true Biblical doctrine of marriage, and not doing the hard work of building community and serving those who are having struggles in their marriages. Obviously there are some divorces that possibly need to happen (as in abuse cases), but I’d guess that many more could be prevented if churches did some of that hard work.

    • Dan Allen

      Fred

      I agree that the typical approach to dealing with homosexuality and abortion is to simply “tell someone that they are a sinner and they need to give that up.” What you propose as the approach the church should take toward divorce i would suggest should be applied to all these areas. We need to build community and serve these people, tell them the Biblical truth, and help them work through these things.

      What if they decide they are going to ignore the truth? What do we do then? (I ask this sincerely) Are they at that point our enemies? Or do we continue to share Christ’s love with them in hopes of their restoration? And if so, what does that look like?

      Thanks for the comment!

      Dan

  • Marshall

    hateful and vicious suggests a self-oriented agenda?
    we could all tone down the rhetoric, though this alone won’t dry the many tears:
    divorce has taken down many more millions than homosexual practices; ravaged many more families, gotten more children, more lost.
    Are we ready & willing by the power of Christ to chase away divorce like Jesus does — without being hateful about it?

    • Dan Allen

      Marshall

      I am not suggesting that all Christians are hateful and vicious, but if you look at those representing Christianity in the public arena it is impossible not to notice the antagonistic approach they take against these issues, they clearly view those on the other side of the discussion as their enemies, and to me, that does not represent a desire to restore those people, but to beat them.

      I agree that divorce has devastated many families and has changed the way our entire culture understands family. We, as those who represent Christ, do need to take a strong and clear stance on the issue, but I am concerned with how we present that stand and how we treat those who have had or are going through divorces. Even how we treat those who are proponents of divorce. While we clearly disagree with them, how are we to treat them? We want to show them Christ, we want to help them, not beat them. So how do we do that?

      Great thoughts. I appreciate your comments!

      Dan

  • Marshall

    Fred, if only divorce was key to stopping abuse. Marital separation/divorce often worsen abuse (or make it 4 to 12 times more likely, according to some US government agency statistics).
    To people being abused, there may not be a more clear opportunity for the church/ekklesia to intervene and overcome by love rather than sending another divorced, angry & confused person marauding across neighborhoods.

  • Fred

    Dan,
    I agree that the approach I suggested should be extended to the other two areas, as well as all areas of life. I believe that we should continue to extend love toward those who reject Scripture and not write them off. We are told to love our enemies. I’m not totally sure what that would look like. In some cases it might mean dis-fellowshipping a person (is that a word?). Other cases may require different treatment.

    Marshall, I don’t think for one minute that divorce is the key to stopping abuse. In some cases though, divorce is the only way out. I agree with you that the church should step in and be the body of Christ and intervene early in an abusive relationship. That’s a part of what I meant when I said the church hasn’t done a good job of teachng about marriage, and we all know what a splendid track record the church has when it comes to being involved in the life of the people.

    • Dan Allen

      Fred

      Would you say that disfellowship/church discipline are meant as means of restoration? I think they could be, but I worry at the very common misuse of these ideas. It seems that there would need to be a real community mindset for these practices to be effective and helpful to everyone involved.

      Dan

  • Fred

    Dan,

    Church discipline should always be carried out with a desire for restoration. I think it is misused, or not used at all these days is because there is no community mindset. If church is just another event to attend, then a person being disciplined can just go to the event down the street. If there is real community, then being dis-fellowshipped carries the weight of the loss of that community.

    I know that if I did something that caused me to be disciplined by my community, it would be torture for me to miss being with those people.

  • Marshall

    always with restoration in mind, and in commitment to remain open to restoration — no matter how long a man or woman “prodigal’ may wander.
    while we’re conscious of the (potential) community dynamic to help/encourage, there is much more to discipline a la Matthew 18 (and others) even beyond scope of a local ekklesia. Have seen some amazing moves & restorative work of the Holy Spirit in various places — sometimes including a Galatia-sized geography. Surely not everyone has “come home” yet, while I’m beginning to log experience that suggests the events of I Corinthians 5 & II Corinthians 2 did set in spirit-motion powerful forces to rescue.

  • A Few Good Reads | The Assembling of the Church

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  • Amber

    Hey Dan,

    I hardly ever have time to read your posts, but had a second tonight. Just wanted to let you know that I love this post and agree with you. “Women who get abortions are just like us. Homosexuals are just like us. Maybe if we understood that our hate and malicious attitudes would change to love and encouragement and support for people who are normally hurting very badly and very confused about life. We love people who have been divorced, why can’t we love people who have abortions? Why can’t we love gay people?” This is great. I have two family members who are gay- and they assume I don’t want to be around them because they know I am a christian. This has made it interesting for me to try and UNDO the stereotype they have of me (Christians), but hopefully, with God’s help I can. It makes me sick how Christians have been at the forefront of ‘hating’ these types of sins, and we have pushed so many away because of it. But the sad part is, while we were hating them, Jesus was loving them.

    Amber

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