I have been thinking about this a lot lately. For some time, I have wondered why it is that churches hold rigidly to certain tenets, yet relax about others. For example, why do so many denominations deny women the privilege of teaching or preaching, yet fail to hold female congregants accountable for cutting their hair?
Here is another good example. Most (conservative, at least) churches have very strict standards on sexual morality. At the same time, few of those same churches have comparatively relaxed views on divorce. This is somewhat strange. Although Jesus did tell the woman caught in adultery not to do it again, he had no such words for the woman at the well and her live-in lover. And in both cases, he was fairly mild toward them. His own words on divorce are another story entirely. Jesus not only condemns divorce nearly wholesale (except in cases of infidelity), he accuses the remarried of committing adultery. This harsh admonition occurs not once but twice in Matthew and affects both women and men.
Bear with me as I make a connection. Most people will agree that various forms of sexual impurity carry a distinct feeling within us of “yuck.” Reading through I Corinthians 5:1-5 with some other folks, I discovered that sleeping with your father’s wife has a very high ick rating. The same holds true of most other sexual practices the church considers sinful.
It finally dawned on me that one reason most modern Christians don’t come down hard on divorce is that it doesn’t involve an “ew” factor.
Most people have strong feelings against what we consider morally, ethically, or spiritually wrong behavior. But when we let our feelings be the judge of right and wrong, we set ourselves on God’s throne. We make ourselves the judge of what is holy and what is not.
I am by no means condemning divorce or advocating sexual sin. But I think that it is clear that we need to return to following God, not our own standards, in understanding what is right and wrong. We must never think that we can set ourselves in the place of God.