Last week, I wrote about the heartbreak of clergy divorce: “No one is immune to the tragedy of marital distress and divorce… not even the men and women who devote their livelihood to serving God.” In addition to the excruciating personal pain of a marital break-up there is also the public humiliation of having your leadership skills and even your spirituality challenged before the church and community. Recent statistics show the divorce rate for clergy has risen to match the general population. It’s obviously a serious problem. How should we respond?
I encouraged your comments last week and received many…
- When God selects us to a full time ministry it doesn’t mean we are perfect, it only means we are obedient to the call. As a matter of fact it is because we acknowledge our vast imperfections. Yet too often we forget that we have to be obedient daily in our walk with Christ. It is the job and responsibility of the Church to hold the Pastor and his family up in prayer.
- When those who lead us, go through spiritual trials, whether they are self-inflicted or not, they deserve the same spiritual support given any other member of the flock. A pastor is still a member of the flock only with special responsibilities. I was very impressed by the support and love your congregation gave you. I heard horror stories but it seems to me your congregation got it right.
- It would be hard to counsel someone else’s marriage when yours failed… Imagine going to the mechanic whose own car is barely running, or asking for a loan from a bank that has just declared bankruptcy. It seems foolish, doesn’t it!
- I personally know how devastating divorce is. I was planning to be married FOR LIFE! It just didn’t work out that way. I learned not to judge others in this matter, for it happened to ME! My prayer is simply to love and encourage those around me and ask God for strength and wisdom. Perhaps with that kind of a spirit and hope, there is yet a great hope for this generation.
- Your past experiences are a powerful witness to those of us struggling every day with similar situations. Can a priest REALLY counsel on marriage and sex related problems when he has never been there or done that? Life experiences, though often painful are what we use to learn and relay a personal more intimate look at ourselves. The fact that you have been through it makes you a more compassionate, understanding, and informed Pastor and teacher.
- I appreciate you being willing to open this door especially when I’m sure it still hurts. I know a young minister whose wife walked out on him several years ago. He had several children. She had an affair with someone and when the church found out about it, they dismissed him.
- I was married to a pastor for 17 years. During this time, I supported his ministry as much as I could. I was abused by him every way but physically. He was arrested for indecent exposure and we eventually got a divorce. He moved in with a girlfriend and eventually married. They are now divorced and he is married for a third time. I was raised not to believe in divorce either but I know that my life and that of my children is better, although I wonder if I will ever learn to love again. I could not have made it without God’s help.
- I too would be shocked to hear of a divorce in the clergy of our local church. But I discovered not long ago that my wife and I were the only ones in our church family to ever invite the pastor to our home for supper and a time of fellowship.
- I believe in my marriage vows and don’t believe in divorce but there are just some cases that just can’t be helped. I in no way pass judgment on anyone because Jesus said: “Let him without sin cast the first stone,” and believe me, I am not perfect. My heart goes out to all who are hurting. That’s why I will do just about anything to make my marriage work and boy does it take work!!
- Sadly, being “set apart” for ministry isn’t always a shared commitment. My spouse supports me but doesn’t always understand the time pressures. My two daughters think I’ve lost my mind…
God says it best, “For I hate divorce…” (Malachi2: 16)
Next week, I will draw on my personal struggles as a divorced and remarried pastor to provide reasonable and Biblical answers. Meanwhile, say an extra prayer for your minister and look for an opportunity to offer him/her a gesture of support and love. They really need it. Don’t we all.