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First let me say this is not a post about doctrine nor a lament about some church leadership somewhere, but rather a philosophical discussion about the way scripture reveals itself, “precept by precept, a little here, a little there.” That’s in the bible by the way, so we’ll just call it “biblical.”

Or, with a bit of good humor, have you ever met my little friend Herman? Herman Netics. Nice guy! (Totally snagged that joke from Wally. Blame him.)

So, I don’t want to debate anything like, “can a pastor be divorced,” but rather to reveal something I find quite beautiful within scripture.  1 Timothy 3:2 speaks of overseers, shepherds, pastors, being above reproach, sober minded, and “the husband of one wife.”

So, I have never read that in the context of divorce at all. Nor polygamy. Nor adultery. To me it simply states, you are the husband of one wife and so your marriage comes before your ministry. Don’t make the church your “wife.” Don’t marry your ministry. Don’t make your golf game your “wife” either. In the Greek it could literally translate into remember to be a, “one woman man.”

This may not seem significant to some, but I know a lot of golf widows. I know a lot of women married to men…. who are married to something else. He doesn’t really love me, he’s married to his job. I think that painful truth resonates in female hearts a lot.

I know a lot of married people, the guy is happy in his marriage, content, but she feels totally abandoned. Many men tend to get their very identity, their sense of self-worth, from their work, their hobbies, their “doing.” Men tend to be verbs, action words, “love” is more like, here is a list of concrete, tangible things I have accomplished, 80 hours a week while away from you…

No shame or blame here, I actually I know this truth on account of the fact that I can be a bit more action oriented myself so like, darn near having an adulterous affair with a…..sewing project. A good book. Work. Some interesting bit of research. Church activities. Friends…..

My hubby, bless his heart, is sometimes quick to point out, uhm, you’re actually married to me.

Buddha actually abandoned his wife and newborn child to pursue his enlightenment. Islam, well there is pedophilia, child brides, polygamy. Lots of young girls very lives had to be sacrificed in chasing the spiritual. Every faith we see  throughout history,  every myth and legend, revolves around the tale of a woman being sacrificed, left behind, or outright murdered to make way for a man’s all consuming pursuit of the spiritual. It really isn’t until we get to Jesus Christ Himself that we see something completely different, something unique in history, something that stresses the importance of taking care of your own and looking out for women, as a tangible demonstration of your faith.

Jesus reaffirms this truth all through scripture and even on the cross while He is dying. Even at the edge of  death He still takes the time to make emotional and spiritual arrangements for His own mother’s well-being, In John 19 it says,  “When Jesus saw his mother there, and the disciple whom he loved standing nearby, he said to her, “Woman, here is your son,”  and to the disciple, “Here is your mother.” From that time on, this disciple took her into his home.”

Paul in writing those words, “husband of one woman,” would have known this truth about Jesus,  he would have known what the culture around him looked like, and he was well versed in history, too. Paul was also once engaged in the torture and execution of Christians, so it seems highly unlikely that he, as someone who truly understood grace, would be focused on divorce or polygamy. He is in essence a redeemed murderer himself, and a powerful voice for the kingdom, a pastor if you will, an overseer. Paul is far to self aware, far too wise, far too close to the Lord to be issuing a simple declaration against divorced pastors, as if that were some kind of unforgivable sin. What he is saying is really even more profound. He is affirming what scripture says, what Jesus said, and bucking the historical trend, saying something quite radical, really. He is promoting the idea that the needs of your wife need not be sacrificed in the pursuit of your ministry.

In fact, they should not be sacrificed at all. How you respond to your wife, how you treat your wife, actually becomes a part of your ministry, just as Jesus so carefully entwined His very own divinity around the tales of the women He encountered. The woman at the well to whom He first identified Himself. The women at the foot of the cross. His very own mother. The women at the tomb He first appeared to after His resurrection.

While I am quite certain Mary suffered greatly knowing the truth of her Son, watching her Son be tortured and executed, even so,  Jesus does not take from her, or sacrifice her, or discard her in pursuit of the greater good. Interestingly, he does not call her “mother” either, nor “wife,” he calls her “woman.”  A “woman” is a person not defined by her role exclusively as it relates to men. She was Joseph’s wife and Jesus’ mother, and yet He reserves for her an identity that is greater and beyond her earthly roles in life.

And then, even as the very role she has is being taken from her by His death, He carefully restores even that when He says of  “…the disciple whom he loved standing nearby, “Woman, here is your son.”

That is the essence and the heart behind, “husband of one wife,” or in the more accurate translation, “husband of one woman,” the live and breathing one beside you, and not the more metaphorical, Bride of Christ, or perhaps a ship. Men often name ships after women….and then sail away on them.

So, sacrificial love, mercy, grace, forgiveness, the very fragrance of Jesus,  all concepts you can see the tangible evidence of when you watch men, divorced or not, embracing  the concept. Crazy as it sounds, I’ve known some divorced men who, in their process of grace and forgiveness, in letting go of their own resentment and offense, have actually shown me how Christ really responds to me.

Ha, so I may just decide to hangout with my little friend Herman Netics for a while. If you disagree vehemently, well, you can just blame him.

 

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