Thursday, April 28, 2005

Marriage and spiritual formation

Brad Hightower offers incisive evaluations about the place of marriage in spiritual formation of churches. The "anemic witness" of North American churches, he contends, is related to rates at which Christians divorce--rates closely paralleling those of non-Christians in our culture:

Could it be that making a commitment to Jesus Christ makes no difference in the most important area of life - our relationship with our spouse? We can point to any number of causes. We can blame men. We can blame women. We can blame pastors. We can blame the world and the flesh and the devil. But none of this blaming will help us to turn these trends around.

The fact of the matter is this: People are going to church and going home and fighting and arguing. These people are not equipped with the tools to get themselves into a joyful marriage. Worse than this where is the church as these marriages fall apart?
In my own lifetime I've seen churches' stands against divorce soften as more and more Christians and members of their families divorced. This is the very kind of "contraint" on the church's teaching and preaching, I think, that was addressed in one of yesterday's posts.

Preaching and teaching against divorce doesn't mean we ignore the hearts and hurts of human beings for the sake of cold, hard doctrine, or that we heap shovelsful of shame on already wounded souls. It does mean that we take seriously the gravity of marriage--a relationship that, over and over in the Bible, is held up as a living metaphor of God's relationship with his chosen people.

It also means that Christians must begin to put into sometimes-hard practice our commitments to one another and to God. If we can practice those commitments in faith, with a sincere desire to follow Christ, our efforts may become a catalyst for the workings of God's transformation and joy.


Blogger John said...

Amen Milton! Great post!


5:26 PM, April 28, 2005  
Blogger Milton Stanley said...

Thanks, John. Peace.

5:53 PM, April 28, 2005  

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