Wednesday, January 7, 2009


I can't imagine what it would be like to grow up in a home (or should I say, two homes) where my parents were divorced. I consider myself very blessed that my parents never took that road when things got rough. While I've never experienced it, I recall several times in my life having dreams that explored the "what-ifs" of divorce. The dreams themselves were intensely difficult to handle and I vividly recall feelings of despair and abandonment. How could I call two places home? Why couldn't I be with my entire family? Was anyone thinking about what this would do to me?

But fortunately for me, it was just a dream that I could wake up from. This is certainly not the case for many, including several teens in my youth group. They seem to take it in stride, but I doubt that such can be taken lightly.

This talk of divorce is really brought on by the ongoing state of our catholic church. By "catholic", I'm implying the phrase "universal" as it has been applied to the church. It's much of the idea of "one Lord, one faith, one baptism" that we all share, as declared by the apostle Paul (Ephesians 4:5). Protestants might argue this case, but do they really believe in this unity among denominations?

Last month, I read a great article on Jonathan Brink's blog called Children of Divorce. Here's a snippet that sums up the article:
I’m a child of divorce. My parents split when I was nine. And over the weekend, I realized that I am also a child of divorce in my church. It was rather poignant that I read Tony Jones’ blog this morning. He shared a conversation he had with a Catholic priest about the Catholicism vs. Protestantism.
    (The priest’s) closing argument: “All you Protestants,” he said, “are children of divorce, and, as such, you’ll just keep divorcing.”
It's true; we keep severing ties with one another as disagreements arise. Why? lists some reasons in an objective manner. But that's not enough for me. I've studied scripture in an academic setting before. I get the factual reasons. But the child in me that wants a stable home doesn't get it at all. He gets hurt when he sees the arguing and when one of the "parents" walks out the door.

To the outside world, we look like a bunch of hypocrites. We preach against divorce, yet the makeup of our churches are defined by it. The number of Christian divorces are sky high. Denominations are formed when many differences could be reconciled. Most importantly, denominations seem to be a permanent thing. Like divorce, there seems to be no turning back. Failing the urge to resist sounding like a hippie, I must ask, "Where's the love, man?" How can one church "shake the dust off their feet" as they walk away from another? We spend so much time cursing one another, rather than praying with one another, or for one another.

What does this mean to me? It means that I can sit in a Wesleyan church and not feel at home. I could sit in a Baptist church and feel the same. I probably would do the same in a Catholic or Orthodox church (though the symbols and icons might quell my spirits for a while). As denominations, we hardly ever talk with one another on a corporate basis. There's a strange "elephant in the room" feeling whenever two churches of differing denominations come together. We develop tunnel vision and don't look out for our brother or sister churches as they sink in crisis; rather, we scoop up the abandoned congregants -- if they don't drown before we get to them.

What about the needy? What about missions and service? We could do so much more if we were united in purpose.

In my hopes for restoration, I call for a "renomination." Churches that still follow the "one Lord, one faith, one baptism" mantra need to reconcile their differences to the point that they can work together. Maybe they can't remarry, but they don't have to be on the offensive all the time.

I've witnessed several different attitudes by divorcees:
  1. The divorcees cut ties completely and abandon one another. The children live two separate lives when they go from one house to another.
  2. The divorcees live in proximity, but are always in conflict. The children are trapped in the quarrel and suffer.
  3. The divorcees come to terms with one another and work together for the children. The parents work together to raise the children. The children continue to feel loved and nurtured.
Let's come to terms and begin ministering together once again. This world is crying for wholeness.