Don’t Marriage Vows Matter Anymore?

by | Oct 29, 2008 | Family & Relationships

The recent rash of marital failures among high-profile Christian leaders is forcing a showdown in the church. It isn’t a showdown between those who have failed and those who might criticize them—it’s a confrontation needed to face down a mind-set that, if left unchanged, will bring an onslaught of hellish delusion.

It’s time we take a hard look at why so many marriages—especially of those in leadership—are being torn apart. We need to know how to respond and what the consequences could be if decisive action is not taken now.

There simply is no way to describe the present situation in lesser terms: We are at a point of crisis.

Failure has been evident across the entire spectrum, from renowned evangelical Bible preachers to charismatic evangelists, and from noted national youth leaders to ascending Christian TV superstars. Though the unprecedented increase in the number of broken marriages and moral failures occurring in general among church leaders is tragic enough, the crisis is amplified when high-visibility leaders go in and out of marriages.

Sheep follow shepherds, and multitudes mimic the more visible. Struggling couples reduce their own resolve to resist society’s indifference toward divorce or immorality when the collapse of their spiritual heroes’ marriages seems to justify, if not normalize, those same practices. Comfort, convenience and human counsel replace commitment, constancy and the place of the cross in the marriage.

Confused and biblically unfocused thinking is at the center of this crisis and has amplified its impact. It begins with understandable sympathy appropriately shown for fallen or broken leaders. Certainly, a loving concern for such leaders is fitting.

But unbalanced views of Bible-based disciplines have become prevalent in the church today. And so have intentionally neglectful attitudes that waive the application of biblical wisdom and truth, which is needed to rightly serve the moment and is essential to sustain the pure passion and dynamic vitality of the church. Several concerns rise out of this crisis.

First is the widespread unawareness of the priority of clearly stated biblical qualifications for ministry leadership. Companion to this is the lost emphasis on the intrinsic relationship between a spiritual leader’s marital commitment and moral fidelity as fundamentally required for their continued ministry. 

Second, many deny or refuse to apply biblical leadership standards when they have been violated. Whether the failure was due to marital stress or outright sin, feelings are allowed to rule rather than biblical principles, and true life-restoring ministry is pre-empted. Wise and righteous dealings in graciously removing a leader from ministry for healing, counsel or other supportive care are disdained as either impractical or “too hard to apply,” and humanistic means are substituted for divine directives.

Third, if sound, scriptural administration of the issues surrounding the church, its leaders and their marriages is not soon arrived at with solidarity, there is reason to prophesy widespread deception on other issues as well.

The “itching ears” characteristic forecast for the last days represents the mind-set of some of those in church leadership today. It’s a setup for delusion with disastrous consequences. 

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