When to Split?

Likening the possible split in the Presbyterian Church (

Likening the possible split in the Presbyterian Church (USA) to a divorce, both Richard Mouw and Barbara Wheeler concluded that the institution should stay together and attempt to resolve its differences over GLBT people in the church ("Why the Evangelical Church Needs the Liberal Church," by Richard Mouw, and "Why the Liberal Church Needs the Evangelical Church," by Barbara Wheeler, February 2004). Extending their metaphor of the divided church as a married couple on the verge of divorce, one might ask, "Under what, if any, conditions might divorce be preferable to this marriage? Should partners remain together, no matter what?"

Pastors and priests once counseled an abused partner to stay with the spouse regardless of the circumstances. But today many pastoral caregivers recognize that in situations of abuse, a divorce is preferable. If a GLBT person’s relationship with the church has become like an abusive marriage, would it not be better to sever the ties with that institution? Or, if the people in the church who affirm GLBT people and the people who do not affirm GLBT people are locked in an unhealthy relationship, would it not be better to divorce one another?

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Sojourners Magazine May 2004
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