Wednesday, July 14, 2010

Divorce, Baptists and the Real Issues We Face as a Society

While the Episcopal Church and the misleadingly named Evangelical Lutheran Church in America press ahead with the pansexualist agenda of the sexual revolution by approving of homosexuality as holy, the Southern Baptist Convention is wrestling this summer with a different issue: divorce. In the liberal denominations the issue of divorce has been practically de-ethicized: it is just accepted as a fact of life to which no moral judgments should be attached. But the Baptists still think the Bible is true and the Bible takes a severe view of covenant-breaking.

At this year's convention, the following resolution was passed. The resolution articulated the conviction that the SBC must:
1. Realize "how damaging Southern Baptist accommodation to the divorce culture is to our global witness for Christ."

2. Confront "the spiritual wreckage left in our Southern Baptist churches by our own divorce rates and our silence about the same."

3. Acknowledge that "areas where Southern Baptist churches predominate in number often have higher divorce rates than areas we would define as 'unchurched' and in need of evangelical witness." (This is correct. Mississippi's divorce rate is 82 percent (13,000 divorces vs. only 15,900 marriages). Arkansas' rate is 63 percent; Kentucky, 59 percent.)

4. Confess that "Even the most expansive view of the biblical exceptions allowing for divorce and remarriage would rule out many, if not most, of the divorces in our churches."

5. Admit that "The acceleration in rates of divorce in Southern Baptist churches has not come through a shift in theological conviction about Scriptural teaching on divorce but rather through cultural accommodation."

Dr. Richard Land, President of the SBC's Ethics and Religious Liberty Commission, and the church's most prominent spokesman for two decades, told me that this astonishing resolution emerged from "a growing revulsion by conservative Christians that too many Southern Baptists and other Christians are quoting the Bible by the yard, and practicing it by the inch."

"We have thoroughly conservative leadership in our denomination, and yet the numbers getting divorced are getting worse, and people are just appalled. We clearly believe that the churches have failed to teach and uphold a standard of a biblical concept of marriage. It is harming our witness terribly."

Therefore, the Southern Baptist resolution urged its churches to:

"Address the spiritual wreckage in our Southern Baptist churches by our own divorce rates and our silence about the same."

Proclaim the word of God on the permanence of marriage, and provide on-going enrichment opportunities.

Marry only those who are "biblically qualified" and understand the meaning of lifelong love and fidelity, a covenant "until death do them part."

Urge those "in troubled or faltering marriages to seek godly assistance and where possible, reconciliation."
Divorce is one of the greatest social problems of our time; it is a key factor is related social issues like poverty, mental health, promiscuity, inadequate parenting, depression, etc. If we could lower the divorce rate by 10% we would literally save lives, pull children out of poverty and help children succeed in school.

We Evangelicals are far from perfect and divorce is a tremendous problem in our churches. But the necessary first step is to confess and repent of our sin and to resolve to turn from it. There is no other starting point if we wish to confront one of the greatest social problems of our time. If we want to be relevant to our contemporary situation, we cannot do so without taking the issue of divorce with full seriousness.

1 comment:

David said...

This is very powerful Craig, it's typically clear, insightful and brave.