taking the words of Jesus seriously

It’s time to ban divorce.  That’s right, I said it.  We need to protect the sanctity of marriage by following the New Testament teaching of Jesus that couples are not to divorce.  The days of Moses are over and marriage is too important to allow for anyone (unless there is provable adultery) to corrupt this holy institution by calling it quits, even when life gets hard with your partner.

I’m so tired of the statistics being thrown around about how evangelicals choose divorce just about as often as people who are unchurched. We need to make sure that those unchurched types have absolutely NO way out of their vows that they made before a judge in a courtroom.

Christian or not, our society will be more moral if we make it legally impossible for any couple to call it quits!  And what’s my defense?  Jesus said it… I believe it… that settles it! This is why, starting with this blog article, I want to invite you to sign my petition to add a constitutional amendment banning divorce to the next ballot. If we can win the battle for marriage at the amendment level, we will have won a great victory by turning this nation back toward its fundamental Christian roots.

For the past few years we’ve been so consumed with things like Prop 8 in California that we’ve failed to also impose this other basic command of the New Testament on people that don’t ascribe to its teachings.  So, get ready my evangelical friends, let’s take our fight for marriage into the public domain.  We’re losing ground on the LGBTIQ marriage issue as is evidenced by recent events in New York.  This means it’s time to take the Bible seriously and make divorce illegal. Only such action will assure the world around us that we take our sacred Text seriously.  Once we forbid divorce, we will be able to put a stop to the so-called “equality movement, ” which wants to give gay women and men the civil rights to marry whomever they choose.

Ok.  I can’t keep going on with this satirical rant. Clearly, banning divorce would be ridiculous in the eyes of almost any reasonable person – evangelical or not. Divorce can, at times, be the best thing for people stuck in a cycle of physical, emotional, or sexual abuse.  To literally prohibit this in a society, wouldn’t lead to anything good.  Yet, Jesus taught that divorce is wrong. Most evangelicals also believe that Jesus would have also been against the practice of homosexuality.[1] Here’s my point: If evangelicals want to ban gay marriage through the legislative process, shouldn’t they also (with the same sense of urgency) work to ban divorce?

Recently I took a study trip where I was immersed in various elements of culture and religion.  Part of these encounters included a trip to Metropolitan Community Church, which is part of a denomination founded on the premise that LGBTIQ folks ought to be fully included in the life of the church.  As I listened to some of the stories about the discrimination and hate crimes the LGBTIQ community at-large endured early on (and unfortunately even in our day), my heart broke.  No matter what one may believe about what Scripture teaches about sexual orientation, the greater law at work is the call to love God and love neighbor.  One can’t accomplish either command while hating anyone.

When asked about gay marriage, the pastor of the church thought it odd that any Christian would desire to outlaw the practice, even based on a conservative reading of the BibleGranting that the “traditional” reading is correct, isn’t it hypocritical of Christians to not also want to make it illegal to get a divorce? Either legislate both or none. From the pastor’s perspective, any other move is hypocrisy.  I have to say that I agree with this pastor.

Personally, I believe that civil unions should be granted to both straight and gay couples by the state.  Then, at the religious level, congregations can bless those unions as marriages as is consistent with their beliefs.  Why should we allow something as holy as marriage to be in the control of secular government? Tony Campolo summarized my view well recently:

I propose that the government should get out of the business of marrying people and, instead, only give legal status to civil unions. The government should do this for both gay couples and straight couples, and leave marriage in the hands of the church and other religious entities. That’s the way it works in Holland. If a couple wants to be united in the eyes of the law, whether gay or straight, the couple goes down to the city hall and legally registers, securing all the rights and privileges a couple has under Dutch law. Then, if the couple wants the relationship blessed — to be married — they goes to a church, synagogue or other house of worship. Marriage should be viewed as an institution ordained by God and should be out of the control of the state.

So, are you with me?  Is it time to petition our government for an amendment to ban divorce in this great nation? If it is, then you might have the most consistent political application of what you believe the Bible teaches about marriage and sexuality that I’ve seen.  If not, well, evangelicals run the risk of hypocrisy, which makes Christianity look as though it’s driven by fear rather than love.

*Sign your name below if you agree!

[1] I realize that there are some evangelicals (many of my friends who read this blog) who have adopted an “open and affirming” stance on issues surrounding homosexuality.  Debating the varying theological views isn’t the point of this article.  Rather, I assume that many of my evangelical readers hold to a more traditional view or are trying to find some sort of a “third way.”  For a great resource, see Andrew Marin’s,  Love is an Orientation – Elevating the Conversation with the Gay Community.  The point is that it’s possible for one to hold to a conservative view on the theology and a progressive view on the politics.

Kurt Willems is an Anabaptist writer and pastor who is preparing for church planting next year by finishing work towards a Master of Divinity degree at Fresno Pacific Biblical Seminary.  He writes at: the Pangea Blog and is also on Twitter and Facebook.

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