Wednesday, October 17, 2012

No Innocent Party?

No innocent party.
It is sort of odd how many times I hear this from people, especially those posing as confessional Lutherans. They ought to check out what Melanchthon has to say about the abuse of the ecclesiastical courts in his "Treatise on the Power and Primacy of the Pope." Here is a hint. He thinks it is at least possible that there might be an innocent party in a divorce. Of course, here he is just following the lead of Jesus and Paul. And he maintains that the innocent party has a right to remarry whomever he or she wants. But we have come full circle now. We have set up a new ecclesiastical court, the court of common opinion, and stupid self righteous hypocrisy. Yes I said stupid, I have other stronger and harsher terms for most of the people holding these views. I’ll try to keep them to myself.
No innocent party. We have bought the line. I agree, kind of. There is no innocent party. Two sinners got married. They are both sinners, they have probably done all sorts of sinful things in their marriage. That is the nature of sinners. There is no innocent party in a marriage. This is not necessarily true in a divorce. But you see the nature of sinners getting married isn’t ever applied to those married. The truth of the fact that a guy or girl is a sinner is applied only to him when he is divorced, by a self righteous sinner who only remains married by the grace of the sinner he or she is married to. That is the reality of it. I won’t bring the grace of God into it. God’s grace applies to sinners, divorced or married. But this is what the self righteous sinner implies when he says that there is no innocent party in a divorce. They imply, whether they mean to or not, that God’s grace has been withdrawn from the sinner involved, the divorce is more or less a sign you are reprobate.
No innocent party. This is really what society has determined today with the no fault divorce laws. I mean I have often maintained that no fault, is generally interpreted as man’s fault by the courts. Whether or not he has done anything to merit a divorce he will be stuck with child support, and probably alimony. He will be robbed of his children. Perhaps he gets to see them on the weekend. Of course the children are the ones who suffer more from this than anyone. But it would be nice if our courts actually went back to adjudicating divorce cases. This no fault nonsense makes a bigger mockery out of marriage than any gay marriage initiative.
However, this "no innocent party" thing is the ecclesiastical court’s equivalent. Instead of saying no fault, it is everyone’s fault. It doesn’t matter if the woman was beaten black and blue during the marriage, according to this view. She is a sinner, not innocent, as much to blame for the divorce as the husband. It doesn’t matter if the husband was shut out for two years before getting divorced. He isn’t innocent. He should just remain celibate. It doesn’t matter if he had an affair. It doesn't matter if she bore some other man’s child, he isn’t innocent, it is just as much his fault. It doesn’t matter that one party stole the kids under false pretenses and moved to another state. No innocent party, they are both at fault.
No, I get it. Sinners sin. They do stupid stuff. I’ve sinned in my marriages. I own that. Sometimes I got too busy at work. At times I got distracted. There are times I don’t come home with a happy face. I don’t smile when I answer the phone. I have lusted after other women. I have sin. I’m married a second time, both of the women I have been married to have brought their own sins to the table. I won’t share them here. This really isn’t about either one of them. It’s about pious pricks who think there is no innocent party in a divorce. Look at yourself. You have done the same damn things. You have sinned in your marriage. God knows sinners sin. He tells us to get married anyway. He expects we will sin in our marriage, but he puts limits on what is acceptable. When those lines are crossed divorce happens. When one party refuses to forgive another, divorce happens. It takes two to tango. And if one party won’t tango no more, divorce happens. The Bible makes exceptions for divorce. We dare not say those don’t apply. It is actually sinful to add to God's law, or take away from it. A cuckold is an innocent party in a divorce. A person left behind for malicious abandonment is an innocent party.
What I am getting at, is there are people who have been betrayed by their marriage partner. It is a betrayal that is quite spectacular in proportion. These people do not need the church to betray them also. If you don’t get that, then shut the front door. If you can’t get that, then I have serious qualms about your ability to teach and be a pastor. IF you don’t get that, don’t pretend to be confessional. Take your pietism somewhere else.
By the way, some of these people betrayed in such a manner, they are pastors. They have every right to stay in the office and remain pastors. They are not guilty of living profligate lives or teaching false doctrine. DPs, Circuit counselors, elders have not the right to restrict these men from their calls as God’s servants. And these men have the same right Melanchthon, Paul and Jesus give every other innocent party in a divorce. They are free to get remarried, they can take a different wife, and this does not jeopardize their standing as a man of one woman. So next time you want to say there is no innocent party in a divorce, take a long look in the mirror, thank God your spouse puts up with your self righteous hypocrisy, and shut your trap.


Pastor Eric Tritten said...

You're dealing with some deeply painful stuff here. We have not handled divorce (in general or among the clergy) in a way that leads people to grace or applies love in a difficult situation. I remember a discussion on divorce, and in the end the first question asked by the pastors in the room was, "But who do we put under the ban?"

Sorry for your pain, and I thank God that you have a new bride and continue in ministry.

God's blessings to you and yours.

Bror Erickson said...

Yes, this should be our first question, "who do we put under the ban?! I mean we can't be pastors if we don't figure that out...

WM Cwirla said...

Once "no fault" divorce became the norm, the notion of a juridically innocent party went out the window. So did any justice for those victimized by abuse, adultery, and abandonment. The church fails miserably in this regard, and even more so with the way it treats divorced and divorcing pastors. Thank you for writing this and reminding us of the sane and just approach of the Reformers.

Wayne said...

I understand.

Anonymous said...

I was divorced in1974 in NJ just after the no-fault law took effect here. I lost out on being able to show what happened with the shot gun in the back, the drinking he did, etc. it was a stigma for many years.

Our pastor at the time around 1970's left our church and we found out that he got divorced; his wife didn't want to be married to a pastor, so it was said. He never married again but was still a pastor in NY State for years after.

I often wondered if he was fairly treated for divorcing back then because I was not as a layperson on society. But today, 40 years later, it should be that things are improved. I am sorry to hear that there are those in the clergy that have not realized that we are all sinners.

The same forgiveness is available to both pastors and laypeople. The same grace from God is still there for all. Pastor, may God bless you and your wife as you go forward inHim.