How Does Your Uncommon View on Divorce Affect Your Ministry to Those In Your Church?

The following is an edited transcript of the audio.

Your view on divorce and remarriage is narrower than many other Christians even in your church. How does this affect your ministry to them?

Well that's true, and it might be good to just clarify what that means. My understanding is that Christ's ideal for marriage is one man and one woman in covenant as long as they both shall live, so that if a divorce happens that does not free a person to remarry as long as the spouse is living.

That's a very minority view. It's not one that is shared by, I suppose, a lot of Christians. But that's where I am. That's my understanding of all the texts in the Gospels, as well as Paul in 1 Corinthians 7, 15 and Romans 7.

The way it affects my people is that I preached a series of messages on marriage, and two of them were on this issue. And I simply looked them right in the eye, and I said, "We at the church do not have one mind on this, not even the elders. What do you do? You cannot in the church discipline people single-handedly. That's not what church discipline is. Church discipline is when the church acts. So if a church doesn't have a mind of something, it can't act. It can't put somebody out of the church for an act that the church is divided in half over. So we have to find who we are as a church."

So what we did is come up with a statement that I and all the elders could agree on. We went as far biblically as we could find one mind together, and then that functions as the way we hold each other accountable.

Now, emotionally it's awkward. It is. And yet I have been so thankful that, given how much we share in common with each other at deeper, bigger, stronger, eternal levels, even divorced people who know I disapprove of what they did can relate to me and I to them. Because my position is that once you have entered a marriage you shouldn't have entered, God can redeem it.

There are many people who are in marriages that they themselves would say, "I shouldn't have entered." They might have married an unbeliever, for example, and now she's a believer. But divorce would be one, that would be another.

They know it shouldn't have happened, and yet given the nature of grace and God's ability to redeem something—there are so many places in the Bible where he redeems things that shouldn't have been and uses them for his glory—they know that I'm saying to them right now, "I am for this marriage that you're in. It shouldn't have happened, and I will work with you to make it as good as it can possibly be."

Not everybody clicks with that. But plenty do, and I think, because of grace, we can have a very redemptive relationship.

Full author john piper

John Piper (@JohnPiper) is founder and teacher of and chancellor of Bethlehem College & Seminary. For 33 years, he served as pastor of Bethlehem Baptist Church, Minneapolis, Minnesota. He is author of more than 50 books.

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