Divorce & Remarriage — A Church Policy Paper

I produced the following for use as an official policy/position paper at South City Church (Milwaukee). It is largely inspired by and makes modifications from John Piper and Bethlehem Baptist’s A Statement on Divorce & Remarriage in the Life of Bethlehem Baptist Church.


As those who believe that “the Bible is God’s very word, … supremely authoritative for what is true and right,” and, as such, “is to be … obeyed in all that it commands” (I. Scripture under Membership Affirmations in the Constitution), we must look to scripture to determine how we should view, handle, and approach the matter of divorce and the potential remarriages that would follow.

However, the subject of divorce and remarriage is one over which many faithful Christians disagree. All agree that remarriage is intended to be a life-long union, with remarriage being permissible after the death of one’s spouse. But, with regards to remarriage after a divorce, whereas some believe that such remarriages are always wrong, others believe that remarriage after divorce may be permissible in certain select cases. Good, respectable arguments exist on both sides. And faithful, Bible-believing Christians disagree.

As members of this church, we are called to hold one another accountable and to intervene in each other’s lives (church discipline) when we stray from following Christ. And we have covenanted to do just that (see the Church Covenant in our Constitution). This discipline and mutual-accountability encompasses all areas of life, no less our marriages, divorces, and potential remarriages.

The question thus emerges, how shall we as a church engage in this sort of mutual-accountability and discipline in the midst of potential disagreements over what is right or permissible with respect to divorce and remarriage? To this end we accept the below principles, which we believe express minimum strictures expected of Bible-adhering Christians, as our boundaries for accountability and discipline.

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Goodreads Review of Marriage, Divorce, and Remarriage in the Bible: A Fresh Look at What Scripture Teaches by Jay E. Adams

Marriage, Divorce, and Remarriage in the Bible: A Fresh Look at What Scripture TeachesMarriage, Divorce, and Remarriage in the Bible: A Fresh Look at What Scripture Teaches by Jay E. Adams

My rating: 4 of 5 stars

Content — good.

Tone — could be improved at points, particularly when dealing with those with whine he disagrees (typical Jay Adams).

Sometimes a little simplistic in its handling of things.

Sometimes the opposite: stances were so, “If this, then that… If this, than that… If this, then…” (etc.) that things felt several levels removed from the text itself, and one began to feel suspicious of their legitimacy.

But, all in all, an impressive little treatment — cuts through a complex issue with a lot of clarity (even if being in danger of a little over-simplicity at times).

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Review of Grief Counseling and Grief Therapy by J. William Worden

Summary

In Grief Counseling and Grief Therapy: A Handbook for the Mental Health Practitioner (4th ed.), J. William Worden provides an introduction to bereavement/loss, grief, mourning, and providing grief counseling or therapy. Worden defines grief to be the experience one goes through during a loss (and specifically for the purpose of this book, the loss of a loved one due to death). Mourning indicates the process one undergoes as he or she endeavors to adapt to a loss. And bereavement may be understood as referring to the specific loss to which the mourning individual is trying to adapt.[1]

Worden begins by addressing the concept of attachment. According to Worden, grief is rather incomprehensible or unexplainable a part from attachment. Attachment—“the tendency in human beings to create strong affectional bonds”— to someone (or something) is what makes the loss of that something (or someone) something that needs to be grieved.[2]

Worden distinguishes between normal (or uncomplicated) and abnormal (or complicated) grief. Normal grief may entail or be accompanied by a large variety of emotions, thoughts, and behaviors such as sadness, anger, guilt, depression-like symptoms, shock, preoccupation, various somatic sensations and distresses, insomnia, etc.[3] Worden stresses the importance of recognizing this broad range of experiences (including those that may seem rather odd or abnormal according to everyday experience) “so that they [counselors] do not pathologize behavior that should be recognized as normal.”[4] What makes abnormal grief abnormal, according to Worden, is not the presence of experiences that may seem bizarre compared to regular functional existence, but the intensity and duration of otherwise normal grief-reactions.[5] Thus, abnormal grief includes the following expressions: chronic grief—grief that is excessive in length or lacks resolution; delayed grief—postponed, inhibited, or suppressed grief reactions; exaggerated grief, which involves excessive intensification of the grief experience resulting in maladaptive behavior or feelings of being overwhelmed; and masked grief, where grief reactions are expressed in covert forms.

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A Biblical Theology of Psychotropic Medication

The following outlines are portions from two presentations given for the course 6710 Counseling in Theological Perspective: Faith & Practice taught by Dr. Rev. Stephen Greggo at Trinity Evangelical Divinity School, Deerfield, Illinois, October and November 2014.

The two presentations (part 1 and part 2) addressed a case study of a specific (fictional) individual. My group was selected to address matters related to the use of psychotropic medication and discipline.


The first presentation raised concerns. For example, some of the more theologically oriented concerns regarding the use of medication included the following:

  • Not taking responsibility for one’s actions (sin).
    • In the use of medication, have we mislabeled sin as illness? Are we treating sin as non-sin?
    • By treating an issue as illness, do we eliminate the Christian claim of human responsibility?
  • Sanctification – Does medication conflict with the Christian view of change?
    • What is genuine, God-honoring change from a Christian perspective (sanctification)? And how is that sort of changed accomplished?
    • Is change resulting from medication that form of change, an expression of sanctification? Or should we distinguish the two?
    • And if distinguished, how should a Christian view change resulting from medication, since it is not necessarily the change of sanctification? Is to be avoided, seen as good but yet superficial, etc. What?

A Christian Interface Approach to Psychology and Clinical Counseling

The following is a paper submitted to Dr. Rev. Stephen Greggo in partial fulfillment of the requirements for the course 6710 Counseling in Theological Perspective: Faith & Practice at Trinity Evangelical Divinity School, Deerfield, Illinois, November 2014.

[You should note, we were required to select a doctrinal statement as a starting point in laying out our theological convictions.]


This paper seeks to present a distinctively Christian interface approach to counseling and psychology. It will (1) begin by presenting relevant theological convictions, (2) tease out interface implications, and (3) conclude with brief ministry applications.

Theological Convictions

I have selected the London Baptist Confession of 1644 as my doctrinal statement. As a Reformed Baptist, this confession faithfully represents my theological convictions. However, due to its brevity, this section elaborates upon certain theological topics that are central to my interface approach.

Revelation. Christian theology speaks of two modes of divine revelation. ‘General’ or ‘natural revelation’ refers to God’s revelation of truth “to all persons at all times and in all places” (‘general’) through ‘natural’ means such as “nature, history, and the constitution of human beings” (e.g., conscience).[1] ‘Special revelation’ is that which is communicated to particular persons (‘special’) through supernatural means such as divine speech, unique events of divine intervention, and the divine incarnation.[2] Due to man’s fallen condition, general revelation’s efficacy diminishes as man suppresses truth known through general revelation (the noetic effect of sin; see Rom 1:18-32), intensifying the need for special revelation. As God’s direct and explicit revelation, Christian scripture (special revelation) holds the place of highest authority (sola scriptura).[3]

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