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Thoughts on Gentleness, Growing Up, and Black and White Thinking
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I have always been a very black and white thinker. It's who I am, and I don't think in general that there's anything wrong with that. Most opinion columnists (of which I am one) tend to be black and white, because you almost need to be to have opinions.

Nevertheless, there are times I'm not very proud of myself, and one of those times was last week. I fear I was snarky to a commenter without meaning to be. Part of it was simple logistics; I was trying to reply to a comment from my Blackberry, and I can't type very fast on it, so I just wrote the bare minimum, which sounds snarkier than I actually feel.

But part of it is also that I do see things in one way, and I'm not the biggest fan of being challenged. That, I think, is the weakness part of it.

God is both justice and mercy. He is the perfect blend of each. I remember once doing a personality test which asked me which one I liked better. I picked justice, but I know many of you would pick mercy (including one of my daughters). It's just which way we are more bent towards.

But it also leaves me seeming perhaps more judgmental than I really am, and for that I am sorry. So let me tell you a story of one of my conundrums, and maybe some of you who lean more towards the mercy side can tell me what your solution would be.

This weekend I skimmed through a book I picked up at a Christian library at the retreat I was speaking at. It was a story I've always wondered about: a well-known Christian artist has an affair and gets divorced, loses much of her ministry, but then is restored by her church. She confesses her sin before the church leadership, she apologizes and repents to all she hurt, and she finds God once again. She is now married to the man she had the affair with, and her ministry is taking off once again.

I had heard the story but I had never heard her side, and I wanted to, because I confess I has always been uncomfortable with the fact that she was returning to ministry. And I leave after reading the book really torn. Our God does restore; we serve a God who did not stone the adulteress. We serve a God who said that everyone could come to Him and confess and be forgiven. And divorce is NOT the unpardonable sin. And yet I still struggle with someone doing something that wrecks two families, and then apologizing, and then marrying the guy anyway and now being perfectly happy. Isn't that saying that God's design for marriage isn't the right one? That sometimes divorce is the right thing to do if  you're unhappy? And I just can't believe that.

And yet I know there are people who have walked through very difficult pasts, and have made mistakes they can't change now. Am I to say that they need to live with those mistakes forever, since turning back the clock is impossible? Am I to deny grace?

I don't want to, and yet I also fear that we are becoming far too lax in accepting divorce. We have a culture which preaches that happiness is king, and that you should follow your heart, even if that leads you to splitting up your family. And the divorce rates in the church are still far too high. Even if this woman is happier now, what about her kids? Sure, they may have recovered, but would they not have been better off if the parents had figured things out first?

I really don't have a good answer. I don't want to tell people that there are some things they did that are just too bad that they can't come back to God. But I also don't want to say that divorce doesn't matter; that you can be fully restored and go on as if nothing happened. And how do you find the middle? I can't do it. Perhaps I should just be glad I'm not God, and if I remembered the fact that I wasn't God more often perhaps I wouldn't be so judgmental and frequently snarky.

If someone could please tell me how to navigate this I would so appreciate it, because God has been speaking to me lately about how, in little things, I lash out too much. I need to learn more gentleness, and more grace, and more forgiveness. He is molding my personality to be gentler, and I know that I must allow that. But part of me is fighting, and the reason is that I can't find the way in this woman's case. But perhaps we're not supposed to. Perhaps that really is the mystery of grace.

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At 9:29 AM , Anonymous SomeGirl said…

When you find the answers let me know! I don't know exactly who you're referencing, but I'm pretty sure it's the same one I've had the same questions about. And then there's the artist who had an affair, got the partner pregnant, both parties sought forgiveness from their spouses and reconciled with them, but he was banned from radios and stores, not to be heard from again (as far as I can recall)... Anyway, as I said before, when you find the answers let me know. Lots of help I am, hu?! ;)


At 9:33 AM , Blogger Joy said…

I totally get your feeling about scenarios like this and my feeling would be 1) she's not perfectly happy - there are always consequences for your actions and I'm sure she has major regrets 2) it's inappropriate for her to be in a place of public leadership without addressing those regrets because it leads people to the unfounded belief that you can sin without consequences. While I am a huge believer and lover as well as thankful recipient of God's grace, I think it's really unwise for the church to put people with these kinds of circumstances back into public ministry as if nothing ever happened. It's very misleading. I have no problem with sinners (myself included) being in ministry - but I think if there's been some sin in your life that is very public you should put yourself in the lower place and choose to have a more "behind-the-scenes" ministry.


At 10:19 AM , Anonymous Anonymous said…

I don't know anything about the particular situation surrounding this woman and her ministry, but I do know that sometimes people take the idea that divorce is wrong to a somewhat crazy level.

For example, my MIL divorced my FIL when my husband was a year old, and she remarried about five years later. To this day she still talks about how she'd like to go back to her first husband (even though she has five kids with her current husband). The first problem I have here is that her first husband is married himself with a new baby, and the second is that who says he even wants to take her back?

I think it's important to remember that the divorced person may not want his/her spouse back. The hurt may be too great for them to live peaceably, and if both (Christian) people aren't willing to follow a biblical path for conflict resolution, there's really no way that they will ever be happily married ever again.

I'm not saying that being unhappy is a good reason to get divorced, but interpersonal relationships are always so complicated that it's really impossible to make certain judgments about the people's characters, what they've tried, and how they should have responded (though of course we do need to analyze everything by looking at the Bible to see how we should respond personally).

Just my two cents. :)


At 10:36 AM , Blogger Anna said…

I would agree with you, Sheila. I don't know exactly who you are talking about (have some good ideas...) but I think that she should not be back in ministry. I can see the public confession/forgiveness part as being appropriate. The marrying of the lover is... sketchy but I guess not too outlandish.

But being back in ministry is probably against the Bible, and I believe inappropriate. 1 Timothy 3 appears to tell us that a messy home life can be a disqualification for ministry. If she is claiming that God is "calling" her back into ministry, I would call BS on that. I get really suspicious when someone claims that God is calling them to do something that is contrary to what is in the Bible.

So don't feel too bad about being suspicious.


At 11:12 AM , Blogger Laura said…

I certainly do not know this woman, or the dynamics of her heart and life, but I think it's safe to say that she should no longer be in a public place of ministry. Yes, she is probably forgiven, but going on with an outwardly glamourous life kind of gives the impression that it doesn't really matter what we do, because in the end we'll be forgiven anyway. I honestly think that if she is truly repentant, she should take the humble road in all of this. Having her life back the way she wants it kind of invalidates the pain her family went through. Again, we are only looking at her from the outside, without knowing the inner heart of her, but still... the situation raises a red flag and whole lot of questions for me.


At 1:38 PM , Anonymous Anonymous said…

I don't know this particular woman's situation. The one within her first marriage or the one now. To me that's kind of the point. I DON'T KNOW HER SITUATION or what drove her to where she is now.

As a child of divorce I can honestly say that the best thing that my parents ever did for me was divorce each other. I have no doubt in my mind that if they had stayed married one would be dead and the other in jail. I clearly remember watching my father throw my mother down flights of stairs, threatening to kill her (on front of me) multiple times and other abuses before she finally left him.

I also remember the fear and stress from her due to the stalking and threats from my father after she left him.

On the other hand over the years my step father has proven to be an amazing man. He has always been there for me no matter what.

I will say that I agree with you that divorce is just too easy these days. I don't feel that it should be the first thing that many people jump to. I also know that no matter how nice or happy something looks outwardly, you never know what goes on behind closed doors.


At 2:56 PM , Blogger Sheila said…


I totally agree that one should not stay married in an abusive situation. I'm sorry I didn't qualify that in the post; I guess I just assumed that everybody thought that wasy today, so I didn't think there would be confusion. But I really should have qualified it.

In this case, though, she made it very clear that she had no grounds for divorce (and abuse would have been such grounds), so that really wasn't a factor!

Joy, Anna, and Laura: I guess your reservations are the same ones I have. By so publicly stating how great her life is now, is she not implicitly being an advocate for leaving your spouse (as long as you apologize profusely) and starting up a new life?

But, at the same time, do I really believe that to its logical conclusion? Do I really think that someone who has divorced and has remarried should be, to some degree or other, miserable, or at least should never talk about being happy? That doesn't make sense to me, either, and so I'm still torn. I think God can restore, and to be joyful and content later in life, regardless of the sins of the past, is fine.

But public ministry? Yeah, that's a tough one. I would say it disqualifies you, but at the same time, let's say that God has given you a tremendous gift, be it in music, or acting, or teaching, that really does impact people. By not being involved in ministry, are you hindering the Holy Spirit, especially if the gift is still there? I don't know what I'm arguing exactly, except to say that I think it's very, very complicated, and I'm glad I'm not God!

But I still feel uncomfortable with this situation...


At 3:19 PM , Blogger Terry @ Breathing Grace said…

Hey, Sheila. I think I know the case you're referring to and I've really never been able to shake the feeling that you've expressed either.

I think if she'd married anyone other than the lover, I would be able to see it more objectively. That little part really makes it difficult fr me to appreciate the wonderful musical gift God has given her.

I think a national public ministry under those circumstances should have been off the table a while ago. But maybe I'm just a judgmental, merciless person. If I am, I pray for God to help me.


At 4:35 PM , Blogger Renee said…

I believe restoration is possible. BUT I don't think it often happens. A person who is fully restored will be able to state what they've done wrong and make it clear to everyone (their audience) that it was wrong for them to do that. That is the only way it can be a picture of grace & mercy - you have to admit sin in order to receive mercy.


At 4:50 PM , Blogger Sheila said…

Renee, I would agree with you on that. In this particular case, though, she did admit her wrongdoing very publicly (and the book itself is part of that). So she is very up front about it.

My concern is that this "being up front about it" can, in and of itself, seem to be an excuse for continuing her ministry. The "See, I've repented and made things right, so now I can do anything I could have done before, as if it never happened." Sort of like apologizing is a get out of jail free card. But maybe it's supposed to be! Maybe that's the point of the gospel. I would agree in almost every case except where it came to public ministry, and it's that where I'm struggling. But to say that they can do everything BUT is sort of like saying that only some people are forgiven.

So I'm back where I started from, which is I just don't know. Sigh.


At 5:39 PM , Anonymous Anonymous said…

I have a couple of thoughts. In terms of divorce in general (not someone in ministry) I think it can be hard to judge ther person if you don't know them. Maybe they have truly repented; maybe thye haven't. Certainly they hurt people along the way. Probably some people do sin knowlingly and then confess without really regretting their actions and assume it is okay. It is sort opf the "should we sin mroe that grace may abound" thing. Is it okay for Christians to do things they know are wrong because they know they can always repent? (Btw, the answer is no).

As to someone in ministry, I think Paul covers that as well. He says an elder should be the husband of one woman. Our pastor always says it is a "one-woman man." In our hcurch a woman would not be an elder though she could have other eladership roles, but I think the principle still applies. Those in ministry are held to a higher standard. They are to be above reproach. Teh Bible is pretty clear on that. So I guess my answer would be no, she shoudl not be in ministry again.


At 6:03 PM , Blogger Mary R. said…

I have a problem with this, too, Sheila. BTW, I never thought you were snarky to me. Not at all. So don't worry about that.

Yes, this divorce thing. I don't want to be condemning and judgemntal, either, or act like it is the unforgiveable sin (and there are Biblical grounds for divorce, although in the case you mention, it doesn't sound like there were), however, I also have a problem with the person returning to ministry.

I think a lot of us are tired of getting our "theology" from the Christian bookstores and tv programs of every sort and are trying to go back to a more Biblical way of thinking. When you get this one figured out, let me know.

I know that God never meant this subject to be easy. It is something for the people to read their Bibles about and get before the Lord.

I can think of two people who would fit the story you gave. Both are back in public ministry after marrying the lovers (Terry had a good point about how she would be able to handle it easier if they married somebody other than the lovers...something about that makes it harder to take...). Are they encouraging others to do the same??

I'm not comfortable with them being back in public ministry; however, they are not elders/pastors, is that the same?

Modern life is complicated -- a hundred years ago, there were no Christian "stars," or Christian tv and radio, etc. It's all such a business. Sorry for the book.


At 6:34 PM , Blogger Nylse said…

Well, as i was reading the comments and the post david and bathsheba comes to mind. David married bathsheba - but god judged David.
David was in a very public position serving, but the consequences of sin were evident in his household. Yet David was a man after God's heart.

I dont know the person you speak about, but we don't know how God is dealing with her.
God can use anyone.


At 8:44 PM , Anonymous Anonymous said…

I have family members who had an affair, left their spouses, and married each other before I was ever born. And I absolutely adore my step-relative. The person is a huge part of my life and as far as I'm concerned they are flesh and blood. I wouldn't say I'm happy that the sin occurred (and there are still some troubled family dynamics even though it happened
+30 years ago), but I'm so thankful that the Lord brought this person into my life. Sometimes, I think you just have to acknowledge the sin and move forward to find the good.

Nurse Bee


At 9:37 PM , Blogger Sheila said…

Nurse Bee, I completely understand that sentiment. I have the same feeling with several friends I know, whom I value very much, who are so happy.

I don't want to say their happiness is wrong; it can't be, can it? But can you really leave a marriage, have an affair, and then restore everything in your life just by admitting you were wrong and saying you're sorry? Then does divorce even really matter? I really don't know. I really don't.


At 10:00 PM , Blogger Kim said…

I agree with Nylse...God can use ANYONE!!! What this woman did is between "Her" and "God"...sin is sin no matter WHAT it is...telling a lie is sin...there's no big sin or little sin - it's ALL sin. So if you were in ministry and you lied one day to anyone about anything and you asked for forgiveness...would it NOT be ok for you to continue in your ministry? For her, it's the same thing.

I love your blog Sheila but unfortunately...I have lived on this other woman's side of the street...along with all the other stuff that you've read from my blog.

God will judge each of us at the judgement seat of Christ.

"Do not judge, or you too will be judged" Matthew 7:1

And another one comes to mind:

No one says it better than Jesus, “If any one of you is without sin, let him be the first to throw a stone at her.” John 8:7

PS. Please don't take what I'm saying 'harshly' - I mean it all in a loving manner. :)


At 10:03 PM , Blogger Sheila said…

Kim, I do agree that sin is sin, but I guess I see a difference in family sins in that they impact the next generation is such a huge way. That's why I think the church has to be very careful about the sanctity of marriage.

And I do think the Bible teaches that while sin is sin, leaders are held to a different standard, at least as elders in the church.

So while God can use anybody--and does forgive anybody--the issue is really one of leadership to me. And I just don't have an easy answer to this one, because I agree, God can restore someone. But how do you reconcile that with the admonitions to Timothy? I don't know.


At 10:07 PM , Blogger Mary R. said…

No, divorce, especially if there was adultery involved, is not something you just get over and move on from very easily.

David was called a man after God's own heart back when he was still just a young man; the phrase did not appear after the Bathsheba affair, although he was repentant and God forgave him. There were repercussions for the rest of his life. He never seemed to govern well after that.

This is a difficult subject. Sheila, like you said, are we just acting like divorce doesn't matter?

There are "big" and "little" sins, although they are all sin, yes. Some affect the person and the body of Christ more than others. Paul said to especially beware of sexual sin, because the person who commits sexual sin sins against his own body. Jesus said that the one who handed Him over to the Roman officials was guilty of the *greater* sin, so yes, some sins are greater than others, according to Jesus, although today, we say that they are all the same (Christian bookstore "theology" again). Elders are to be the "husband of one wife," where the Bible does not say that they are to have never told a lie or never to have committed any other type of sin. The divorce and remarriage (among some other things) disqualified them for the ministry/eldership. Should it disqualify people from any kind of ministry? I don't know. This is a hard one.


At 10:18 PM , Blogger Mary R. said…

And, one of the ways that something like this affect ministry is that people find it hard to receive from you.


At 12:03 PM , Anonymous Anonymous said…

This is my 2 cents-worth:
I think that divorce is NOT the unforigiveable sin that the Christian Evangelical community has made it out to be. I think that reaction is a knee-jerk...and right now, I think we have little to be reactive over, seeing as divorce is the same or higher amongst our circles than the world.
Secondly, I think that restoration can happen, but often doesn't for whatever reason.
Thirdly, and more importantly: I think someone who has done what this Christian singer, is damned if they do and damned if they don't. If they say nothing about their infidelity, divorce, and remarriage, "everyone" assumes that they are proud of their actions and doesn't think that what they did was wrong. If they try and rebuild a career, and make public confession/reconciliation, etc., then they are percieved as "being happy in their sin."
While I think this lady IS happy in her marriage now, I also think that any way she would write about it would come off as wrong. If she said she was unhappy, we'd be discussing "see, that just proves that divorce and remarriage doesn't make a person happy." If she writes, as she does, that she is happy, we react like she's dancing a jig and is just in la-la land over how wonderful divorce is. That's the price you pay in the public eye.
My marriage has undergone a severe trial, which I could have used as grounds for divorce. We didn't divorce, we are together. I hated what happened to our marriage, I also wouldn't change what it has done to our marriage for the world. Our marriage is better for having gone through am I saying that my husband's sin is ok? That I'm happy about it? No...but I could see where someone could mistake me saying that...
Just my take. It's a sticky situation and no matter what gets said or doesn't get said we judge. Thank goodness God knows all the details, and the hearts involved.


At 12:22 PM , Blogger Cassie said…

Would you be as upset about her claiming happiness and the return of her ministry if the sin was a different one? One that we as humans see as a "lesser" sin?

God sees sin as sin. Every sin is offensive to Him - I believe in equal measure. And I belive His grace and mercy are equal to everyone - for every sin. Judgement will be different.

If you can't believe that someone who has committed a sin like adultery and divorce can be forgiven, be restored, have a happy life and even have a ministry .... how do you believe that any of us can be forgiven, restored, happy, share the love of God (ministry)?

Think about your last sin. I'll go out on a limb and say that from a human perspective it is a minor one - nowhere near as horrible as adultery. But it hurt God. Angered God. Put you out of His favor. Just like her adultery angered Him and put her out of His favor.
And I betting that you've already confessed it and asked forgiveness. God forgave you. Do you believe that?
Certainly then you can be happy. And continue your ministry.

I don't see why God wouldn't be able to use someone in a ministry that had committed a "big" sin like adultery or murder, etc.

I fear that sometimes these harsh judgements that we have drives people away from the church. I don't think we have to "accept" sin and be okay with it. But we do have to recognize that we mess up, we sin. And that God forgives us. And that forgiveness wipes it out of His mind and we are to move forward with our lives, loving Him, serving Him, sharing His love with others. And that just like God forgives us, we need to not hold their past sins against them.


At 12:35 PM , Blogger Sheila said…

Anonymous and Cassie, thanks for your comments! I actually expanded on this a little bit in today's post, but let me address one thing here.

I totally believe that restoration is possible, and I do think it's actually quite frequent. I don't think it's infrequent at all. And I do think that forgiveness is of course freely offered.

But I don't think all sins are equal. I used to, but I think I'm with Mary R. on this (she wrote something up on this thread that shows the biblical reasons why not). Jesus Himself said that judgment would harsher for some than for others. And He said that teachers would be judged more harshly.

So yes, I think this woman was in an impossible situation, in that no matter what she did would be seen as some by wrong. And I am not in the least saying that her ministry today is wrong. What I am saying is that I'm uncomfortable with this situation because it seems as if we're saying that you can sin, find yourself happier because of that sin, and then make it right with God, and everything should be peachy. Perhaps it should be peachy, but is that really the message we want to give? That it doesn't matter if you have an affair, and everything can be okay afterwards?

That's what I'm struggling with; it's not really whether or not she's been forgiven (I firmly believe she has); or even whether she has correctly made restoration (I'll take her pastor's word that she has). It's how do we as Christians draw that line between "you can be forgiven" and also not encouraging people to break up families?

That's what I have a hard time with.


At 2:50 PM , Blogger Rebekah said…

Grace is undeserved favor, which we all have received when we found Christ. Sometimes we confuse this with the more modern definition of tolerance. God is merciful. His mercies are new every morning. In His mercy, He has allowed this lady, however sweet she may be, to continue to live and proclaim His name and have some semblance of happiness even after she intentionally went against His plan, will, design for her life and His Word. That is grace, undeserved favor: He didn't call her home immediately after she sloshed His holy name through the mud. That is mercy: He has given her some good things still in her life. But to say she has a high profile place in ministry is wrong. Based on any qualifications for leaders. Scriptural or secular, leaders must lead by example, and even though she has apologized, she has no further credentials except maybe talent. What if a leader murdered her husband? Would she be restored if she apologized? Marriage is a sacred institution. We make vows before Almighty God. God has no pleasure in fools, and He said if you make a vow, defer not to pay it. She has certainly not been led of God to do this, as He never goes against His own Word. She can still serve God - just not in a position of leadership. That again, is God's grace. He accepts the worship and service of the broken and weak as well as those whose struggles are mostly on the inside and private, when it is done in spirit AND in TRUTH. Sounds narrow, but God has a right to be particular.


At 7:33 PM , Anonymous Karen said…

I know exactly where you're coming from... I was really crushed when that happened, devastated even. I had really held her up throughout my teen years and to see that play out... it was really hard. It took me years to want to forgive but even now I find myself quite unable to buy any albums, books, etc that have her featured. It hurt too much to see someone in a role model position to millions of teen girls just seem to cast it all aside and willingly ruin two family homes. :(

And no, I don't think she should still be in public ministry.


At 7:37 PM , Blogger talk2shari said…

Marriage is unfortunately seen (to some folks) as little more than an escapable contract should the need arise, with one exception... that part "til death do us part" was a promise to God, and our I do's were the signature on a contract. I have friends and family who are divorced, they weren't easy dicisions and they are assuredly good people. I read recently a Pastor's thots on divorce and adultery (clearly the only biblical reason). The way he stated it rang true in my heart and I accepted it, not as an excuse, but as a work of redemption for all concerned. God's punishment in the old testament for adultery was death. Following that person's death, their widow would be free to marry again. In the New Testament, sin is no longer covered by the law but by grace. And although I BELIEVE that Christ NEVER INTENDS DIVORCE, when it happens because of adultery, the marriage is seen as dead, and if true repentance is made, it's covered by the blood and the parties can remarry. I don't know if that's how God sees it, but it sure made sense to me!

Shari Johnson


At 7:56 PM , Blogger Cara said…

While I haven't had an affair or divorced my husband, I am guilty of sins that affected many people around me. That was about 10 years ago. I am a very different person now. I don't say that to excuse my actions - quite the opposite! I say that I am different because of God's overwhelming grace and mercy! I think often about how God has transformed my life and blessed me so much - but I NEVER acquit it to my having sinned. I NEVER say, to myself or others, that I'm glad I made those choices so that I could have the life I have now. Instead, I am always quick to give God the glory and insist that God has brought beauty from ashes and I am forever grateful.

Also, I do not take a forefront in ministry. I support my husband in his ministries, I take on backstage ministries, and I only stand "up front" when specifically asked to do so and only to shed light on how my past would easily have led to very bad things, if not for the saving power of Christ.


At 8:18 PM , Anonymous Julie Sibert said…

So appreciate your vulnerability and honesty Sheila. I think your last paragraph in the post says volumes... about how possibly there are things we just don't figure out this side of heaven... and maybe that's the mystery of grace.

I'm trying to grow in gentleness too... trying to be slower to react. Not sure if it's maturity on my part or tiredness... sometimes I don't have the mental energy to wrestle with things the way I used to. Hmmm.

At any rate, one thing I fall back on a lot is that we all must give an account for how we have lived. The older I get, the more I realize that I have pa-lenty moments in my life where I have had blind spots...where I think my sin is "less" than someone else's. And when I feel particularly judgmental of someone else, I try to remind myself that those are areas where that person and God are wrestling, journeying, etc.

We never really know what is going on in someone's heart. Could be that the woman you describe is projecting that she feels fine about everything... when in reality she and God are wrestling in deep intimate places... where He can reveal more of Himself and His love. She may never stand up and share so openly about that kind of heart-work.

There certainly is a lot mystery in grace, isn't there?!

Anyway, fabulous post. Thanks for being real. It is so needed... so appreciated.


At 9:14 PM , Blogger jerysmiles said…

I'm having a difficult time seeing how a musician is being equated to an elder, teacher or pastor. A singer/songwriter/... isn't counselling others or even leading in any tangible way. I don't think that sin keeps people from ALL ministry, only those shepherding roles, wherein we need to be held to a high standard to keep from leading others astray. I may be narrow-minded, but I don't see musicians in that role. Obviously, I have no idea who you're talking about, so forgive me if the person being referenced really is an elder or pastor. In which case I defer to earlier comments regarding 1 Timothy.


At 10:18 PM , Blogger The Happy Domestic said…

A few thoughts:
1) Every follower of Christ is called to ministry - it is why we are here on this earth, and if we aren't actively ministering to SOMEBODY we might as well be dead. So this musician / artist doesn't have some special position by virtue of having a "ministry".
2) Paul (Saul) was a murderer... was he disqualified from being an apostle?
3) What is true repentance? I think a prerequisite of repentance is to STOP sinning. Matthew 5:32 makes it clear that marrying a divorced person is committing adultery, so this person, by remarrying after divorce, is living in an ongoing state of adultery. Once divorced, if someone is truly repentant, they must remain single, or else reconcile with their spouse IF the spouse is available and willing.
4) As mentioned by previous posters, anyone in a recognized position of leadership must have had no more than one spouse. This makes clear the qualifications, but a trickier question would be - who do consider to have recognized positions of leadership? (Refer back to point #1.)

I guess for me the bottom line is that unless this person leaves her adulterous "marriage", whether or not she should continue her work in the Christian music industry is a moot point. By New Testament standards, if she persists in her sin she should be treated as an unbeliever. First comes repentance (forsake sin), THEN comes grace.


At 11:03 PM , Blogger Sheila said…

Happy Domestic--

What I would say about Paul is that his sin was BEFORE he became a Christian. This person's sin was while she was ministering in Christ's name, so I see it as different.

I see what you're saying about staying single or going back to your first spouse, but the first spouse, I don't think, was willing to take her back. I think that marriage was done.

Are we saying, then, that remarriage (if you were the one who had the affair that destroyed the first marriage) is therefore always wrong? I guess that's what Jesus said, but I'd have to second what He said that "this is a hard teaching", because I do find it very hard. And I do find this whole situation hard.


At 12:16 AM , Blogger The Happy Domestic said…

Hi Sheila;
You're right, it is a hard teaching. My spouse and I have wrestled with this biblical perspective in recent months both in terms of family and close friends, and the difficult conclusion we had to come to, from the very words of Jesus, was even harder still. In the passage I cited from Matthew, it is clearly stated that even when the innocent spouse who is divorced remarries, that marriage too is adulterous. Wow-ee. By human standards that sounds pretty harsh. Doesn't the wronged party have a right to be happy? But the reality is this: as you stated in another post, happiness is not the point of following God. In the epistles, being single is referred to as a "better" state. And incidentally, remaining single is not such a hard thing for an individual these days as it was in Jesus' time.


At 9:05 AM , Anonymous Melanie E. said…

Let me back up Happy Domestic here - yes, I too believe that if a couple divorce for non-adultery reasons, neither of them are eligible for remarriage. Yes, that's a hard teaching, and one my own mother had to struggle with her emotions on because my father divorced her without proper cause. (She had no desire to remarry, but she struggled with anger because she couldn't even if she wanted to.) And in an adultery situation, the guilty party also never has the right to remarry. Anyone, not just the lover from the breakup. So yes, by being remarried, this woman is "continuing in sin" and should not be looked up to as a Christian example.

I think if she had remained single after the divorce, the whole situation could be forgiven by God and she could move on with her life, but even then I think she should exercise her talents in some other direction than in religious music. If it causes this much controversy among believers, can you imagine the head shaking and finger pointing among non-believers?


At 7:27 AM , Blogger Christine said…

I could have almost written this post. I am a black and white thinker, can come across as judgmental, and yet have spent the last few years trying to internalize the balance between justice and mercy that I think only Jesus has ever perfected. I have had the same questions about marriage, divorce, forgiveness, new starts and what's right. So hard- there are either no answers, or multiple answers. I could argue both sides! Great thought-provoking post.


At 11:37 PM , Anonymous Sharon said…

I'm not going to say anything about the woman in the book except this: I think she is lacking in integrity because of her marriage to the man she had the affair with. But, I do pretty much agree with Joy and Anna.

But, what do I know? I'm on my second marriage myself (although in my defense my first husband was abusive).

What I also want to mention is how I understand about the need to be gentle. I am more of the "tough love" type, and that is not always the right approach. God and I are working on that too.

Don't beat yourself up about it or anything...we're all works in progress ;)


At 12:07 PM , Blogger Cassie said…

I linked over from today's post and reread this article and comments again.

I'd like to see you write an article on this topic Sheila - the whole remarrying bit - allowed, not allowed, etc...

My parents divorced. Then my Mom married my Dad (technically my step-father but in every sense, my Dad - more so than my biological Dad.)

I can't imagine life without my Dad. Or the siblings that came later. Our family.

I know you talk so much about family Sheila and it's importance in our life.

So I'm having a hard time with the whole idea that it's wrong and should never have been - because my parents were married before.

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Name: Sheila

Home: Belleville, Ontario, Canada

About Me: I'm a Christian author of a bunch of books, and a frequent speaker to women's groups and marriage conferences. Best of all, I love homeschooling my daughters, Rebecca and Katie. And I love to knit. Preferably simultaneously.

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