Wednesday, December 20, 2006

The Donut Man on Divorce

when my parents divorced when I was 6, the church in Paoli (Pa.) told [my mother] that divorce might be the best thing for her in this situation because she found “true love” with another man and that she had her whole life ahead of her. The church did not fight for the unity of our family. … So we stopped going to church.
Rob's mom got saved through the witness of a friend who told her Jesus could heal her marriage; she was facing a third divorce at the time. Rob was drawn to Christ through the witness of a pastor whose family spoke to Rob in the way they related to each other.

Right in the middle of this conversation, his wife comes up with a plate of cookies and coffee and their two little preschoolers come up to get a big kiss goodnight, and there was joy and peace and order and beauty in that home. I wanted that. They brought Christ to me philosophically and biblically in their lives.
As an adult, Rob's family was in a church that went through a nasty schism.

Because Shelley and I are both children of divorce, when the church fell apart it brought terrific stress to our marriage. We know of a number of couples that then divorced after this meltdown.
Rob and his family have converted to Catholicism, which seems to be a popular trend these days. The article is in National Catholic Register. The "evangelical" movement was most popular at the same time that divorce rates were soaring. For most Protestants, the choice was to attend a church that embraced grace so much that anything was acceptable, or to attend a church that imposed strict and often legalistic standards on its people. Legalism kills the spirit of people and isn't how we're supposed to live in Christ. His harshest criticism was always for the Pharisees, who loved God but who were graceless taskmasters over His people. But neither can we bear to say 'anything goes,' at least not if we're being true and honest with Scripture. The evangelical movement has had a difficult time with this balancing act, and families experiencing divorce have suffered both sides--either too much 'grace,' as the Donut Man describes in the first quote above, or none at all in churches that acted like divorce was the unforgiveable sin. I think this is one of the reasons that we're seeing the pendulum swing back to tradition and ancient ways. Protestants are converting to Catholocism, evangelicals are converting to Anglicanism, and even I find myself in what is probably best described as a reformed Baptist community, where liturgical forms and songs from a century or two ago are the norm. We long for structure, having grown up in a wishy-washy culture that infiltrated the church. Maybe now, we can begin to infiltrate the culture, the way it's really supposed to work.

1 comment:

Mike Greiner said...

I hope this isn't a dead blog, as i see no comments and no posts recently. However, since I just stumbled upon it, I'll post something and see.

Yes, people are converting to all kinds of things looking for stability, looking for an authority they can trust. And why not? Not only are churches popping up all over the place, new philosophies of doing church are popping up just as quickly. Should we be seeker-sensitive willowites, or purpose driven warrenites? What does it mean to be church? What is the church? How do you do church?

For decades these questions were simply not asked. Church was church, tradition was tradition, and that's that. However, traditional routines no longer carry the day. So churches began to take on new forms. unfortunately, the new forms often outdistanced a sound theology of what church is to be. The historical denominations were not like this. they began knowing what they were, and what they were not, and who they were reacting against, etc.

So, in this day when no one really knows their history, there is little understanding of how denominations rose up in the first place, etc, people without their traditions to fall back on, wonder, "What is the true church? how can I know it if I see it?" The easiest solution is just to pick an old one. Rob Evans is now a Catholic, Franky Schaeffer is now Orthodox, etc.

Better than this, why not go back to the Bible again, and this time seek out a theology of what the church is to be? Then act. Taking a Christian history course or two wouldn't hurt either.

thanks for listening, whoever is out there! From a Christian, evangelical by stereotype, adult child of divorced parents, happy to be alive.