Some denominations and church groups point to passages in scripture as basis for saying, “We will ordain neither Minister nor Pastor who has been divorced”. None. That’s final.
And at the other extreme, there are those who say, Divorce is a natural outcome of some marriages, it must be accepted and does not affect the way a Minister or Ministry does the essential works of God. It matters not at all. It plays no role in ministry selection or ordination. It's incidental.
I am not of either camp. I say with Prophetic Authority that neither is the mind of the Holy Spirit of God. I do so by Study of Scripture and a grasp of the heart of God towards men. It’s always a heart of Compassion. Not towards the divorced alone, but toward those who are affected for good or evil by the event, particularly in ministry.
Regarding divorce. There are three event time lines that must be considered to measure the nature of continued ministry after divorce.
1. A person has lived a life of sin and rebellion. During this time he or she goes thru a divorce. Or an abortion. Or a hundred other consequences from Sin. If that person then repents, comes to Jesus then "OLD things are passed away. Behold ALL things are become new". If you have any struggle with that, I suggest you go to your Bible and tear out page 763 or whatever page that passage appears in your big black book. It’s a settled issue. The process of being born again makes all sin of the past null and void. Never happened before the throne. The devil, even a religious devils, has no place to participate in accusation with effect. They are silenced. That person is fully qualified to minister at every level scripturally.
2. A person who is a committed Christian, trying hard to live a life for Jesus and then because of a multitude of sins and events on both sides of the marriage a marriage dies. The marriage is fought for. The efforts trying to come to reconciliation never bear fruit. The end of the marriage occurs. The scar is made. That person is now carrying the scar, the wound, the pain of a past divorce. Self examination is essential. It’s impossible not to go thru that. During that time self recrimination will reign. Some is of the accuser. Some is the Spirit of God using this pain (God never wastes pain) to help the Christian find new hope for a better way. Brokenness occurs and the pain is real, even if the divorced individual remarries; there is always the understanding that if ONLY I had tried harder I might have not have gone thru this. As has been said in a previous writing, the scar is the result of the sin. The scar is NOT the sin.
Over time, the brokenness and recovery will cause a man or a woman to be doubly, perhaps triply diligent if they should ever marry again. They become the biggest advocate for Holy sound foundation marriage of anyone on the planet. Like the evangelism of an ex smoker. I need a person who has come from pain telling me and others how to avoid the pain they have gone thru. They have earned the right. And in some ways, they are better equipped to enter into worship with the pain they have than I might be feeling pretty smug about having it “All Together”. I knew a woman who shortly after becoming a Christian had an abortion. She did it in an impulse of pain and sin. She then realized what had happened. She had been deceived by the enemy. To this day she is one of the most militant ministers to those facing unplanned pregnancy out of what she did that you will ever meet. She took her pain and turned it against the enemy who deceived her into it. If I called her name you would know it.
A person who has healed can and often will minister with power and grace to those who suffer from the same scar. And should.
3. Then there is the platform minister who is high profile who is seen as a role model and a leader by those in his flock and those on the outside who admire him or her. These people carry an extra burden. The burden James, the brother of Jesus, spoke of when he said, “Let not many of you be teachers”. When you talk of shoulds and shouldn’ts with authority you have to be able to stand scrutiny.
When a High Profile minister or ministry is divorced in the middle of his or her high profile ministry, what should they do? Their focus must be on the sheep following them. Those who look to them. Those who hold them as those who they would “Follow me as I follow Christ”. What of That? There are some realities. They must step back for a while in recognition of what has just happened. They must not treat this as some incident without consequence. No matter the incident. Look at Ted Haggard. Look at Jimmy Swaggart. Look at those ministers arrested for Drunken Driving. They all were scarred by the situation. The sin led to a stain, a scar that is going to be with them for the rest of their lives. It has had a permanent impact on how they minister to people. Things will never be the same. We must come to grips with what happens when a high profile minister in a high profile ministry has to deal with the consequence of sin. The souls of those who look to them are in Jeopardy. If they fail in this there will be blood on their hands.
The first two examples above are clearly dealt with. The confusion in the Body of Christ is what about this last situation? The very situation that Benny Hinn is involved in at this moment makes this salient. If I had the capacity to speak into his life, I would say no different from what I am saying here. This is not being judgmental, this is holding situation and behavior up against the mirror of the Word of God and allowing the Spirit of God to reflect reality, not cultural relativistic reasoning.
If in the unfortunate circumstance that a visible leader ends up in a divorce and the reconciliation never happens, the mess is exposed, what should they do? I have many good friends who are in ministry who have been in exactly this situation. Most handled it pretty well. Some not. There are the recent high profile folks like Todd Bentley, Paula White and Charles Stanley. Of course the list is far too long. And with the Benny Hinn news, it’s too current for any of us to find helpful to kingdom work.
There isn’t much to worry about what our witness is to the world or how they view us. That's not the Holy Spirit's prime concern. If we carry the marks of Christ we will be despised and rejected. That’s not the concern. The concern is for those saints of God who look to these great men and women with admiration and a desire to become what they have become in Jesus. The Follow me as I follow Jesus syndrome. There is no out on this. The bar is much higher for them.
What must that be? If a man or woman of God faces this permanent scar, this result of sin on many sides, how should they confront and deal with it.
I believe by the Holy Ghost there are answers. They may not be pleasant but they are true. That man or woman must not treat their ministry above the covenant they made at the altar. To do so sends a false message to those who look up that marriage as a convenience but that ministry trumps all. That’s not true. Worse it give evil license to one who says, “My ministry will go on despite the troubles in my family, my marriage, my”. Hogwash. It won’t. To pretend otherwise is gross deception. It was for Jimmy Swaggart. It was for Jim Bakker. It was for Todd Bentley. It is for Paula White. It is for Charles Stanley.
The ministry a divorced high profile person has will never be the same after a divorce. It can be greater, IF, the steps to allowing the Holy Spirit’s cleansing to take place. The Glory of the Latter house can be greater than the former. I’m astounded that people in Ministry think that they can pray in Tongues for fifteen minutes and all will be well. It’s not so. It’s a process. A process that requires time, reflection, repentance, restoration and humility far beyond what any of them believe. I think Jim Bakker got there. Perhaps Charles Stanley. The rest. Not yet. It’s not something someone else can “bring you thru” as some have tried. It is a personal repentance and rebuilding that is not a program. No one can Program a restoration. Holy Spirit is offended by the whole idea that a man or others can take a person suffering this scar and restore without consequence.
The scar is there. The person must embrace the scar. It is who they are now. Pretending it doesn’t exist if foolish. Probably deception. To pretend that things are just as they ever were and move on in ministry is denial. To imagine that this scar is a permanent disqualifier is an illusion made of self righteousness.
Many flawed people were used mightily of God despite their flaws and scars. King David. King Saul. Apostle Peter. Thomas the Doubter. John Mark. The rich young ruler who many believe was Barnabas. And others who were at first enemies of Paul but after time became big supporters of the cause of Christ. The same is true of many saints of today, but fewer than before.
So, what if… what should be done. First time. I don’t know how much time is needed, but time is. If the marriage has a chance to be saved, time to work on that to the exclusion of all else. Those who are on the other side of this will testify that saving what they had would be far more valuable than the joys of any second or third marriage.
Plus the scar wouldn’t be there. That ghost from the past wouldn't haunt them.
What can a person in ministry who suddenly is faced with impending divorce? Like Benny Hinn is right now. What should he or she do? That changes all priorities. At that moment in time and for the foreseeable future, the full time ministry of that minister becomes his family, his wife, his marriage. He must spend all his time, suspend all other activities; become sold out to this effort. Nothing that moment takes priority over that issue.
I have been asked, could I? Not only could, did. When faced with impending divorce 28 years ago, I quit my job, I took my wife away. We set aside our children 7 and 10 years old with reluctant family. Left house and home for months and went away to figure out how to solve this rift. It was crucial. My ministry was my family. Nothing else had priority. Not healing the sick. Not people needing salvation. Not people needing guidance. Not people needing the Holy Ghost. All that was tertiary to the need of restoration. We worked hard. It took years to get it right. It doesn’t always work out that way. I wish it did. But to pretend that a minister can just go on with business as usual and without consequence if foolishness. I would say the same to Benny Hinn if I had the chance.
In the Church is pretty hard on workaholics who sacrifice children and family on the altar of “Success”. Why do we give ministers and ministries a pass? We can’t. They are guilty of the same sins.
I have never understood the idea that God’s call is so important that we can or should offer up our covenant marriage relationship on the altar of that call as a sacrifice. To do so is an abomination. That says that God’s intent is to destroy families for the sake of the Call on people's lives. I know there’s a song that talks about the sake of the call. Its bad theology if we thing there is something Holy about abandoning the wife of our youth for the call of God. God HATES divorce above the honor of any call on a person’s life. The ministers of God have got that idea wrong for a long time.
The higher the anointing on any person’s life, the higher the level of responsibility there is for that person. We can’t have reckless ministers just deciding what is right for them. They must hear from the Spirit of God. Most do not. Deafness occurs.
There must be a time, however long it takes were if the marriage doesn’t work out, that the person is able to come broken to the pulpit and thru tears minister the Love and Mercy of God to people who need to see this. They are then ready to return and will do great exploits.
To do any less tramples under foot the blood of Jesus. It treats our fleshly ambitions as more important than the capacity for Holy Ghost redemption and restoration. I know several who have gone thru this process and are till still going thru it. Tim, Theresa, Marlon, Terrance. Others. They know who they are. I respect and honor them because they waited on God before returning to the Pulpit or taking the Pulpit. They minister out of their personal pain and suffering. I couldn’t do what they do. I minister on this side of the Scar.
In the end, the divorce is a scar. It must heal. It’s harder when not given time or sunlight to heal. It is not a badge of honor. It is recognition of the humanity of the minister. Like a drunken driving conviction. Like an abortion. Like Theft. Lying. And the power of the Repentance and Restoration in testimony.
Should a divorced minister marry again? Paul the Apostle says, if it’s possible NO. That wasn’t a rule, it was a suggestion. It’s better if you are going to serve God to avoid marriage, particularly again. Yet, it is not good for man (or woman) to be alone. So in that case, rather than burn with lust (as has happened too often in the Catholic Church) it’s better than a minister be married.
Soon? Probably not. Give it time. After all hope of any kind of reconciliation is lost. Then, privately, with no flowing gowns, in a quiet time, marry for love and devotion. Make a covenant with confidence that God is in it. Some of the Big weddings for second marriage I have seen (Juanita Bynam) are an offense to God. I hardly have to be a prophet to say so, but since I am I am, I do. It is honoring the death of a covenant and the creation of a new. What message would be sent if a widow was remarried with a grand and glorious ceremony that cost hundreds of thousands of dollars after the death of her first husband? Someone would have the right to question IF that was in order and if it didn’t dishonor the memory of the passed spouse. What about the passed covenant? When a divorce without reconciliation is consummated it is the spiritual equivalent to becoming a widow or widower. Treat it as such.
If a man or woman cannot stand being alone for lust a minister has the responsibility to be remarried. It’s better if they don’t. If they do, it should be honorable and small. Honoring. If a man or woman in ministry is married to one person, they are husband or wife of ONE. ONE, even if there was a death or divorce before.
A minister who has dealt with all the issues resulting from his or her divorce has the right and at some point the responsibility to follow the call of God on his or her life. BUT, it must be in order as defined above. This is not looked upon lightly by the Father. It’s a serious issue. Repentance for the sins that led to the divorce from both sides must be dealt with.
With the Holy Ghost and Power we must move ahead with the mandate given us. Therefore, go and make disciples of all the nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and the Son and the Holy Spirit. Matthew 28:19.
It’s his purpose for all of us, but first we must be made ready. Lord Prepare ME to be a sanctuary, pure and Holy, Tried and True. With thanksgiving, I’ll be a living, sanctuary, FOR YOU.