It’s not like divorce

Sep 29, 2014 by

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Some say the church used to be against divorce, but today we accept it. Wrong. Article 19 of the Mennonite Church USA Confession of Faith says, “We believe that God intends marriage to be a covenant between one man and one woman for life.” God hates divorce, but it is not an unpardonable sin. We have evolved on this issue. I can remember when a divorced couple was refused baptism in a Mennonite congregation and advised to join a Methodist church. What a tragic failure to demonstrate Christian reconciliation! Since then we have listened to the Holy Spirit, to each other and to the New Testament’s instruction that we beseech sinners to be reconciled back to a right relationship with God and the body of Christ. Pastors should condemn divorce as a sin against marriage and God’s covenant, but divorced people in the church who hear this should not feel guilt, because they have been reconciled to God and the body of Christ. Divorce has no similarity to same-sex relationships except that both are sins God hates. The church should never accept unrepentant divorced people. But we welcome forgiven and reconciled brothers and sisters. This is the redemptive way for anyone who commits a sexual sin: Admonish them to stop, confess, be forgiven, remain celibate or marry someone of the opposite sex and be included in the body of Christ.

Sanford C. Oyer
Wooster, Ohio

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  • Darian Harnish

    The above characterization of divorced persons as being reconciled and LGBTQ persons as still living in sin is puzzling to me. Does not the Bible say that if a divorced person remarries they commit adultery? Maybe it is different in Mr. Oyer’s church – but I have not witnessed divorced persons who have remarried being called to remain single by the church. I have witnessed many remarried individuals taking part in the life of church all while living in sin according to the biblical standard outlined above. And yet our church has experienced a shift on this topic, whereby we set a standard of life-long commitment, but when members find that they cannot live up to that standard, we acknowledge their brokenness, their need for reconciliation and then welcome them back into the fold. It would appear to me that the topics of LGBTQ inclusion and divorce have more in common than Mr. Oyer lets on.

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