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On Divorce and Remarriage

I found an interesting letter in the “Mailbag” of thePresbyterian Journal, September 29, 1982, on the subject of divorce and remarriage, written by Rev. William E. Hill, Jr. In commenting on earlier articles found in that magazine, he states about his own personal experience:

I began my ministry by thinking that I could judge every case on its own merits and then decide whether or not to remarry a divorced person. I soon found that I often was mistaken in my judgment and that often I had been given the wrong information. So I developed an ironclad policy of refusing to marry divorced people to new spouses. I came to believe that I was unable to judge in such matters—nor have I ever seen a session capable of being a judge in such matters—because only God and the parties themselves know who is the “innocent person” if, indeed, there is such. 

Does this mean that we look down on divorced people or consider this an unforgivable sin? Certainly not. God forgives any sin where there is repentance and faith and certainly this sin can be covered by the grace of God. In my ministry I made a special effort to find places of service in the church for people who have experienced this tragedy-but not in the official and ordained leadership of the church. 

In Paul’s listing of gifts, I should say that such Christians qualify for the gift of “helps”. Divorced people can be strong witnesses for the Lord. Some of the finest and most effective witnesses for Christ I have known have been people who have experienced this tragedy. Their witness is even more humble than most and therefore often more effective. 

The church ought to take a clear and consistent stand against divorce but not against divorced people. At the same time, divorced persons should never shrug their shoulders in the mistaken conviction that no wrong has been done. A broken vow is wrong no matter what the cause and a broken home is a tragedy no matter what the cause. 

But “a broken and contrite heart, O God, Thou wilt not despise.”

Notice again that last sentence in the second-to-last paragraph.

Planned Parenthood

There is an organization with the above name, located in many communities, setting forth ideas on sex and marriage obviously contrary to Scripture. Yet this organization is supported by tax dollars and voluntary contributions—often made by church members. TheChristian News, September 27, 1982, presents a quoted article which gives numerous examples of the “morality” of the teaching of “Planned Parenthood.” It advocates, according to the article, compulsory sex education along the lines of one of the booklets published by a branch organization which states: “Sex is fun and joyful, and it comes in all types and styles, all of which are O.K. Do what gives pleasure and enjoy what gives pleasure. Don’t rob yourself of joy by focusing on old-fashioned ideas about what’s ‘normal’ or ‘nice’ “. After listing more such examples of the evil teachings about sex, the article continues:

These are but a few examples of how Planned Parenthood’s approach to sex education—which it wants to see made compulsory—attacks the ethical and religious standard of reserving sex for marriage that was long part of our cultural heritage. As Mrs. Jurs warns: “Under the guise of knowledge, P.P. selects only those facts that lead students to embrace ‘reproductive freedom.’ By omitting positive support for marriage, commitment, intimacy, and relatedness to social patterns, values, or symbols, it is proceeding to establish [Margaret] Sanger’s ‘new morality’ based on ‘knowledge’. Through omission, it has been ‘abolishing the arbitrary and outmoded restrictions’ of our culture, which today’s P.P. as well as Margaret Sanger perceived to be the Judeo-Christian ethic.” 

What have been the results of Planned Parenthood’s approach? Planned Parenthood itself reports that abortions now average 1.5 million annually, which means that over the last decade close to 15 million living human beings have been killed in the womb. And pregnancy among teenagers is an ever more serious problem. One million teens were pregnant in 1974, and by 1981 that figure had risen to 1,142,000. Consider the social and psychological problems this creates. 

Adding insult to all this injury is that since 1966 the federal government has poured millions of your tax dollars into the programs of Planned Parenthood and other groups with a similar philosophy, so that by 1980 some $319 million was allocated for sex training and “family planning” programs. Indeed Town and Country magazine for November 1981 reports that out of Planned Parenthood’s annual income of $146 million for 1980, $71 million, nearly 50 percent, was provided by American taxpayers. 

Such use of our taxes is revolting, and it should be stopped at once. Meanwhile, Planned Parenthood should change its name to reflect more accurately what it is doing to our teenagers. The Federal Office of Recreational Sex might be more appropriate.

The dreadful statistics are presented above in the article. The evil and worldly philosophy is clearly set forth. These represent your “tax dollars at work.” Strange, is it not, how emphatically the government insists on “separation” of church and state? Strange that no tax dollars may be used, directly or indirectly, to support anything religious? Government would consider it an unheard-of thing to use tax dollars to present the origin of all things as set forth in Genesis 1. No tax dollars for religion or morality—but an abundance of such monies for every anti-Christian, godless philosophy which arises! The effect of this evil emphasis is increasingly seen in our day.

“Women in Office”

The Calvinist Contact, July 9, 1982, reports on the Assembly meeting of the Presbyterian Church of Canada, and especially on its decision pertaining to those who refuse to participate in the ordination of women to office. It points out the extent to which churches will go when once departing from the Scriptural standards concerning women in office. The article reports:

The Presbyterian Church in Canada’s 108th General Assembly has dealt a heavy blow to reformed-evangelicals in its midst by ruling, June 10th, that all its ministers must be prepared to participate in the ordination of women to the offices of pastor and ruling elder. 

The Assembly, which met June 6-11 in Toronto’s historic Knox Church, was dominated by this issue as by no other. A minister commissioner (delegate) spoke for many when he implored the Assembly to provide for up to three hours for the airing of the matter “so that the question can be settled once and for all.” 

The denomination, which has permitted the entry of women into the offices of pastor and ruling elder since 1966, has been wracked by disputes since the Assembly of 1979 over what the law of 1966 implied concerning the ministers and candidates who could not in good conscience support the practice. Finally in 1981, after some 40 overtures and petitions of diverse viewpoints were received on the matter, that Assembly appointed a twenty-member “task force” to bring in recommendations.

As it turned out, the task force produced few surprises. Its majority seems to have pressed early and continuously for a restrictive policy, modeled after that of the liberal United Presbyterian Church in the U.S.A. However, a significant minority of six within the task force (including one woman elder) were unable to support such a policy and recommended instead a plan modeled after that of the Reformed Church in America. The latter would have guarded both the rights of women to be elected and ordained and the rights of conscience of ministers and candidates unprepared to personally support the practice. . . . 

Even a moving last-minute appeal from a “centrist” minister and elder, pleading for time and leniency while some “third way” was found, fell on deaf ears. The Assembly of about 250, clearly weary of the question, voted approximately 4 to 1 in favor of the restrictive path. At that point, no less than 18 of the minority view stood to their feet and requested that their dissent from the decision taken be recorded in the minutes. 

The consequences of the decision are quite plain. Candidates for the ministry, unprepared to be bound by the policy which requires their participation in ordinations they do not support, will not be eligible for ordination themselves. Presently ordained ministers who will not uphold the policy will now be open to as yet undefined disciplinary actions. Having ruled that liberty of conscience is internal, and thus to be enjoyed, while liberty of action, as external, cannot be permitted, the Assembly has left no course of action open to such candidates and ministers but to participate and record dissent.

Now within churches is evident that progression of apostasy in which white is called black, and black, white. For a time, those who dissent are allowed to continue within the organization. But shortly, these too must submit or lose their positions. Again, it is the mark of the antichristian church which increasingly not only adopts antiscriptural positions, but insists that all conform to its own false teachings.