About five years ago a father of five children called us and described how psychology, through so-called Christian counselors, had influenced his wife in the direction of separation and divorce. This husband and father, whom we shall call John, wanted reconciliation. Both a close friend of the wife and a pastor of her church admitted to us that she had no biblical grounds for separation or divorce.
While John was living separately from his wife at her request, he wanted as much contact with his children as possible. Without going into the details, we will describe two incidents involving two different churches and two different pastors.
The first was at a church they were both attending as NONMEMBERS. The wife, whom we shall call Mary, met with a pastor at that church and was told (as a result of an official meeting of the church board) that while they did not encourage divorce, they would support her if she decided to divorce her husband. The church’s justification for its position was based on a false interpretation of Matthew 19:9.
One of the pastors, whom we shall refer to as Pastor One, advised Mary that she had biblical grounds for divorce because the word porneia in Matthew 19: 9 has a broader definition than "sexual sin." He explained that the Greek word porneia is used to translate a Hebrew word that would be translated "uncleanness" in English. He explained further that this word porneia encompasses a number of violations of the marriage covenant. In fact, this pastor pointed out that God’s divorce of Israel in Jeremiah 3:8 further proved that porneia means more than "sexual sin." Pastor One said Mary’s husband was like Israel because he was idolatrous in his self-centeredness and that this was tantamount to adultery. Thus, following the logic of his understanding of porneia in Matthew 19:9, Pastor One concluded that, since self-centeredness is tantamount to adultery, Mary had biblical justification and permission to divorce her husband.
John, the husband, asked to meet with the church board to answer Mary’s allegations, but was denied his request. He later made several further requests to be heard at other levels of this denominational church. All requests were denied on the basis that he was not a member of that church. Even while Mary was not a member of that church, the church leadership had given her both an audience and a justification for divorce. Contrarily, John was not even provided an audience to be heard simply because he was not a member of the church either.
After this grave disservice, John started attending a different church (which we will refer to as Second Church) and became a member. The pastor of Second Church (whom we will call Pastor Two), after meeting with both John and Mary, concluded that there were no biblical grounds for divorce. At John’s request, Pastor Two began a Matthew 18 procedure.
A primary reason for writing this article is to print the letter Pastor Two wrote to Mary after he had made a number of attempts at reconciliation. In all our years of ministry we have NEVER seen or known of a church or pastor to attempt such a reconciliation and then to write a letter such as this.
We contend that Second Church and Pastor Two took the right biblical path, while Church One, which supported Mary’s intent for divorce, followed the broad, worldly way and corrupted the clear biblical teaching on divorce. Here is Pastor Two’s letter:
This is definitely a case of how both psychological and so-called biblical counseling supported and therefore encouraged Mary to file for divorce. This is a clear case of psychoheresy on the part of Mary’s counselors, followed by Pastor One’s false biblical understanding leading to divorce. However, we want to emphasize Pastor Two’s letter because it is such a rarity in the church today. Much psychotherapy and even biblical counseling have encouraged divorces that are totally without biblical grounds.
The irony of this situation is that the pastor who wrote the letter is blind! He cannot see with physical eyes, but, oh, does he have spiritual eyes to see and spiritual commitment to follow through to do right according to God’s Word! We pray that the pastors of Mary’s church who are all physically sighted will come to "see" as well.
PAL V10N3 (May-June 2002)
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