Blessed… Yes! No! What???

“It was said, ‘Whoever divorces his wife must give her a divorce certificate.’ But I say to you that whoever divorces his wife except for sexual unfaithfulness forces her to commit adultery. And whoever marries a divorced woman commits adultery. “Again you have heard that it was said to those who lived long ago: Don’t make a false solemn pledge, but you should follow through on what you have pledged to the Lord. But I say to you that you must not pledge at all. You must not pledge by heaven, because it’s God’s throne. You must not pledge by the earth, because it’s God’s footstool. You must not pledge by Jerusalem, because it’s the city of the great king. And you must not pledge by your head, because you can’t turn one hair white or black. Let your yes mean yes, and your no mean no. Anything more than this comes from the evil one” (Matthew 5:31-37, Common English Bible).

I am blessed. I have a wonderful wife who supports me in everything I do. Even when she may not agree with a particular decision I make, she still supports me. She is quick to tell people that she did not marry a preacher, she married a sailor. What she says is very true. We got married and less than two weeks later I was in boot camp.

When I first started talking about entering the ministry, I am sure she was questioning things in her mind. To me, Cindy said, “If it is what you think you are supposed to do” and she has never looked back or questioned my call to ministry. At times when I have questioned my call and investigated other possibilities, Cindy has supported me in what I look at not only for my future, but for our future. Forty years later (this June), I do not regret the decision we made and the life we have together.

I realize how blessed I am. I also realize what I have is not what everyone in the world has. It is not what everyone I know has. Many people, people I know and people I don’t, do not have the support from their spouse I have from mine. Many people I know have had to deal with spouses who have been unfaithful. People I know have had spouses who are physically, emotionally, sexually and even spiritually abusive. There are people who have had to live with and endue with spouses dealing with addiction. If we pay attention we can see that many people have to deal with spouses who are less than honest.

The idea of divorce is not something cut and dry. It is not something easy. In the verses above Jesus is addressing ideas from the Pharisees where there was allowances for men to divorce their wives if they failed to please them in some way. Notice Jesus’ words here are specific of husbands divorcing their wives. Instructions are not given the other way around. The reason is actually pretty simple. Wives were commonly treated as chattel, as property. A wife couldn’t divorce a husband very easily.

I am part of a denomination that includes reason into how we do the theological task. We ask, what is reasonable in light of Scripture (always first and primary), tradition and experience. Scripture and my experience say “God is love.” Love does not abuse. Love does not stray from the truth. Love is always faithful. I have difficulty with this because I know what the text says. At the same time, however, I cannot accept that God would want a spouse to remain in such situations. I have difficulty with our example teaching children what the role of husbands and wives should look like when that example is completely wrong.

Without question, marriage is a sacred vow and it should not be entered upon lightly and once the sacred vow, the covenant is made, it should be taken seriously by both parties. But, if a covenant is broken and cannot be repaired… Now we are entering into a more difficult ground. If the terms of a contract were broken to the point it could not be salvaged, would we not move on?

Our yes should mean yes and our no should mean no. Jesus is clear about that. But, we also have to recognize that just because we mean what we say, not everyone else feels or responds in the same way. Sometimes we are left with the difficult but best choice of moving on. Is that a sin? Quite possibly. But, I also know there is more grace in God than there is sin in us. For that, we should all be thankful.

Have a blessed day in the Lord.

Joy and Peace,
Keith

Copyright 2017, J. Keith Broyles, All Rights Reserved

Author:

Spirita Spiro (Esperanza for "Spirit's Breath) is rather new in my life. But the blog is not. I began writing a blog several years ago. It lived under the title, "The Pastor Ponders." Over the years I have tried several different names and "The Pastor Ponders" always seemed to fit best. I am trying again with Spirita Spiro. For 27 years I was a full-time pastor in the United Methodist Church. This year, August 2018, I semi-retired (I can't actually retire quite yet) and began teaching social studies. It is something I have always wanted to do and if I was going to do this, I needed to make it sooner rather than later. So, I made the move. I thought with the career change there also needed to be a name change to the blog and other things, such as spiritual direction. Spirita Spiro is my attempt to share some of my thoughts. I often share what I am thinking with my dog "Bishop," but he keeps his thoughts to himself. He will even go to sleep sometimes while I am sharing my thoughts with him. The truth is, if it doesn't involve getting his ears scratched, his belly rubbed or some kind of treat, he really doesn't care. I will say this for him, he never argues with me or tells me I am wrong. So, I decided to share some of my thoughts with whoever might come across this blog in their ramblings around the Internet. I live with my wife Cindy and our little dog in Lufkin, Texas. I spent the past 27 years as a full-time United Methodist pastor. Most recently I served as pastor of First United Methodist Church in Sweeny, Texas. I have also served United Methodist congregations throughout East Texas including rural Madison County (Elwood UMC), Lovelady (First UMC) and Kennard (Center Hill UMC), Canton (First UMC), rural Smith County (Mt. Sylvan UMC and Union Chapel UMC), Grapeland (First UMC), Tyler (Pleasant Retreat UMC), Santa Fe (Aldersgate UMC), Freeport (First UMC) and Oyster Creek (Oyster Creek UMC), Diboll (First UMC), and now Sweeny (First UMC). My wife Cindy and I have been married for over 40 years. We have two grown sons. Wayne and his wife Nikki and all our grandsons (Kaleb, Noah, and Jaxon) live in Southern California. Christopher and his wife Morgan and both our granddaughters (Jenna and Natalie) live in Tyler Texas. I enjoy preaching and all aspects of preaching from research to writing to the actual preaching event. I also love writing, reading, playing the guitar as well as a bit of drawing. I have spent quite a bit of time over the past two years working with paracord on various projects, mostly prayer ropes I usually give away. I sing bass with a local barbershop chorus called The Coastalaires. I have also recently begun doing a little wood carving. I also enjoy playing with Bishop, something he likes a great deal better than listening to my thoughts. I hold an Associate of Applied Science Degree in Business Data Processing, specializing in Microcomputers from San Jacinto College in Pasadena, Texas, a Bachelor of Science in Political Science with a minor in History from Sam Houston State University in Huntsville, TX, a Master of Divinity from Southern Methodist University in Dallas, TX and a Doctor of Ministry from Carolina University of Theology. When I was a student at Carolina, the school was in Iron Station North Carolina. They have since relocated to Manassas Virginia (Yeah, go figure, a school named Carolina geographically in Virginia). This blog is mostly devotional writing, but there are other things here too. Just about every week I will either post my sermon manuscript or a video of the worship service. On occasion, I will post something I see in society. Occasionally I write a short story, a poem, or a song and will post it here too. I will say this, my motivations for writing this blog are really selfish. I write it to get what I am thinking out of my head and onto something a bit more permanent. They say, after all, once something is on the internet it never really goes away. Still, I hope you enjoy reading it. And, should you desire, you can one-up Bishop and actually tell me what you think. Who knows, it might generate a bit of discussion between you and me and anyone else who might make their way here. With Joy and Thankfulness, Keith Sweeny, Texas May 2018

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