Skip to comments.Charles Stanley Situation
Posted on 04/03/2002 1:25:33 PM PST by Dryman
This is a simple inquiry into Reverend Stanley's position in his Church. A year and 6 months ago a stink was raised about him staying on as pastor after he and his wife split. What became of this situation? As you might know I have been out of touch with this forum for some time and am now only able to log back in.
Please accept my post for the vanity it is and accept my apologies in advance. Spam on (If that is necessary.)
Boy, what a cop-out. Why then, don't we encourage the clergy to have affairs and divorce so that they can better relate to the issues of the masses? Total Barbara Streisand.
During the process that led to his becoming pastor of First Baptist of Atlanta he was offered an envelope of cash if he would leave town and not take the position. He also had a deacon try to punch him out at a business meeting.
I have often wondered whether these events (shabby treatment by professing church leaders) had an enbittering impact on his wife regarding the church and perhaps was one of the wedges in their relationship.
I respect Andy for his willingness to hold to principle / convictions even if it meant separating from his dad's ministry.
Sorry, I didn't mean to imply that he did. I was being absurd to prove a point, not to impune Dr. Stanley.
I may be mistaken but I believe that the church had a rule against divorced or separated persons serving as senior pastor. Actions were taken to circumvent this rule and allow Charles to remain in the pulpit. This led to the breach with Andy. Charles initial rationale was that he would remain as pastor so long as he was separated and not divorced. This was later ammended upon his divorce. Charles Stanley is, I believe, a gifted and compassionate pastor. I respect him in many ways, however if it was his biblical conviction that separation or divorce does not disqualify a pastor from ministry he should have stated it initially. To keep redrawing the line as circumstances change is a problem regardless of whether he and I would have the same understanding of what the Bible says about the qualifications of an elder.
I agree with you in the above. I also agree that his church was supportive of his remaining and would have approved any rule / constitutional change needed. A full explanation of his reasons for remaining would show whether he was acting upon revised biblical understanding or more subjective reasons(God's leading) and / or pragmatic reasons(the need for me to remain is so great). I am afraid that with the confusion many Christians will conclude "Whatever...," that is, that it doesn't matter what his reason is.
I believe there is a big difference between the minister victimized by divorce whose wife left him even though he was willing to work it out and the minister who is 'victimized' by divorce who leaves his wife and kids so he can carry on with his secretary.
It is interesting to see that the meaning of the scripture passage is now in dispute, whereas those who criticize non-married Catholic leaders for violating the passage always claim they know exactly what the passage means (claiming that "must be the husband of but one wife" = a church leader must be married).
Agreed. We have a similar situation in our church now with our minister of music. No affair, just a growing apart. She walked out on him and moved to another state. The kids, one just out of college the other a college junior, stayed with dad.
Several years ago we had almost the same thing happen to friends of ours. We attended an interdenominational church affiliated with the Mennonites (but we're not Mennonite). A (married) couple was studying and working together to be ministers. She decided she was a lesbian, walked out on him and filed for divorce. When he started dating another friend (also Mennonite), it was a major scandal in their church community. There was no hope that the first marriage could be saved, but they couldn't accept his getting married again. When they eventually did get married, her parents did not attend the wedding. They came around later as the grandkids came on the scene.
In sickness and in health, to love and to cherish till death do us part
That was a covenant agreement.He should have chosen his wife over his ministry. I believe God would have honored that
Me: I would be interested to know how you would answer these questions:
Can a never-married man be a pastor? Single widower? (me: yes)
A woman? (no) Is a divorced man single? (me: not if the marriage was valid, because a valid marriage ends only when one spouse dies)
Can a divorced man remarry? (me: no, same answer as above)
Reminder: Catholic annulmments are formal declarations that what looked like a marriage (a civil marriage is often not a valid biblical marriage) was never a valid biblical marriage (i.e. a porno addict who seemingly "marries" and whose addiction prevented him from ever having an ordered view of marital conjugal relations cannot consent to that which he does not understand (biblical matrimony) or alternatively his civil wife is not biblically bound to a civil husband who clearly never intended to keep his matrimonial vows).
I do not know where Anna is spiritually right now, but the bible states that if an unbelieving spouse chooses to leave, they should be allowed to go.
Celibacy is a discipline of the Church and can be (and has been) changed. It is a prudential matter for the leaders of the Church to determine.
The Catholic view is that there is no right to be a pastor. One can inform the Church that one feels called by God, but the Church determines if the call will benefit the Church. (Thus a reformed axe murderer may feel truly called by God to be a pastor, but the Church must discern if this "call" will truly be of service to God's people). I presume it is similar in that a protestant man cannot just demand that he be a pastor - he has to find people willing to give that honor or responsibility to him.
But how is it that God is so legalistic, if a situation is so despairing that it's literally killing one of the parties? (Stress-induced illness)
Wish I knew where to find it, but about a year ago, I read that the divorce statistics for atheists were almost identical to that of evangelical Christians, which leads to the inevitable "WHY?"
The only logical thing I could come up with is that if, within the marraige, divorce is considered forbidden, the fallen nature of one or both spouses feels a much greater freedom to be a complete jacka**. "Look at all I can get away with! She can't divorce me, it's not allowed!"
If the couple is atheist though, with no "rules," and no God to be accountable to, a certain fear must exist, that automatic forgiveness by the other party cannot be assumed. Perhaps, therefore, they treat each other better to begin with, always with "that little fear" in the background, that is not present within a Christian marriage.
So if this is the case, a little fear is a good thing. Unfortunately, many legalistic Christians lack that "little fear."
I am aware of the alternative views on those passages. To be extremely brief, I do think that it refers to divorce. I also think that it applies to the leader(senior pastor or bishop) of a church, not necessarily every minister in a church.
The problem is that as Americans we think that serving God is the job of a professional. So we regard it as all or nothing. Either a person can is qualified to do it all, or he cannot do anything. All Christians have some sort of ministry. If Stanley had resigned from the pulpit, he still has a duty to serve God. What if he started a Bible study. How long do you think it would be before he had a "Bible study" of several hundred people? Which I think would be fine(Biblically speaking), if he ministered under the guidence of a leader(bishop, or senior pastor of a home church.) I think that God's desire would be for Stanley to continue as a minister, but not as the senior leader of a church.
Consider that this disqualifies Stanley on two points. First, he's now longer the husband of one wife. He's divorced. The word for "one" has the meaning of first and only.
Second, if the marraige failed due to being too devoted to the ministry, then he failed to manage his household well.
It's amazing how hard the church tries to "dumb down" the requires of 1 Tim 3. These should not be considered to be high, almost unreachable standards, but the minimum requirements for the job. It's not a matter of being legalistic, but of being obediant
What an interesting case. It is the spiritual equivalent of a bar exam question.
We know that the one Biblical basis for divorce is adultery and absent that, remarraige is forbidden. Now, the question of the hour, can the wife's descent into lesbianism be considered within the scope of 'adultery'? In other words does the adulterous relationship require a heterosexual pairing or just a sexual partner not her husband?
I am a member of a Southern Baptist Church and I've heard of other incidents similar in nature to this. It's a shame.
Second, if the marraige failed due to being too devoted to the ministry, then he failed to manage his household well.
You make two serious arguments. One the construction of "husband of one wife" and the second his ability to meet the other, independent tests of 1 Timothy 3.
The first depends on whether the requirement is to be a "husband" of (at least) one wife or a husband of not more than "one wife". I don't know of a Biblical view that this prohibits single (never married) men and widowers from the pastorate. The text really offers no clue on this issue. I take it from your comment that you believe it does prohibit single (never married) men and widowers from the pastorate. Why should that be?
The second is a more interesting question -- and more difficult. The full passage says,
"The overseer then must be above reproach, the husband of one wife, temperate, self-controlled, respectable, hospitable, an apt teacher, not a drunkard, not violent, but gentle, not contentious, free from the love of money. He must manage his own household well and keep his children in control without losing his dignity. But if someone does not know how to manage his own household, how will he care for the church of God? He must not be a recent convert or he may become arrogant and fall into the punishment that the devil will exact. And he must be well thought of by those outside the faith, so that he may not fall into disgrace and be caught by the devil's trap."
You essentially argue that even if (and I don't know the facts) his wife divorces him because she is emotionally unstable and unbalanced, this reflects on his ability to "manage his household."
Perhaps, but a husband has precious few tools left in modern society for dealing with an emotionally unstable woman. [It could be argued that phrase is a redundancy.] Wouldn't that require that one demonstrate that there was something within his power to do to calm her instability which he hadn't done?
If those were the facts -- and they were shown -- I would definitely be with you. I think I would need to know more.
Others have argued that he should have left because he earlier said he would. Suppose he was merely trying to "manage" his unstable wife by making that 'promise'? Or that he was mistaken in his understanding?
The biggest indicia here that he should go -- to me --is his son's resignation. Why did the son think he should go? Nobody is talking about facts, but presumably the son knows some. And that is troubling. Is the son speaking out?
Regardless of the correctness or the incorrectness of Stanleys desire to stay on, the above quote is very very true.
I personally know a pastor who had resigned his ordination due to personal anguish reasons related to the actualities of preforming his job. He left for 5 years and came back a far better pastor. The above quote could have come from his very lips!
If he wants to share his pain he should join an encounter group!
I have heard that his son Andy is a powerful preacher .His willingness to separate himself from his father's ministry speaks to his character .
Could you please explain who offered Stanley cash to leave the area and the reason ? That sounds a little far fetched .But then I am not involved in church leadership.
If the Bible indeed means that “a man of one wife” cannot be divorced or widowed and remarried then of course he should resign. However, to assume every divorce is the fault of two people is naive and judgmental. You don’t ask a rape victim what she did to deserve it. You don’t go to the people whose house was robbed and tell them that they share the blame. I am not qualified to judge Charles Stanley’s homelife and I doubt most on this forum are not either. However, God is ultimately the just judge and Stanley’s church is close enough to have a handle on Stanley’s life. I would trust their decision and stand by it. Stanley has touched many lives for the Gospel...let him continue to preach it. “Whether for selfish reasons or no, let the Gospel of Christ be preached.”
If all preachers had perfect homes, who could preach to those who don’t?
Well...I’m going to put my two cents in here.
First of all, shame on all you christians in here who have anything to say against Charles Stanley.
He is your brother and I’m sure he has served the Lord with a lot more of his life than anyone else in this forum.
You say...”He said he would step down if he got a divorce.”...well what Charles stated he would do and what God wanted him to do...obviously were not the same.
I doubt there is a single person in this forum who has not done something or said something without inquiring and bringing it before God first. I do it more often than not.
He should step down???? Well you made a mistake at work....should you quit your job???? Give someone else a chance who won’t make the same mistake that you did???!!!
I’m tired of Christians judging other christians.......don’t judge your brothers and sisters.
I’m married and I have been married for almost 10 years now. Only because I and my wife are christians doesn’t mean our marriage is going to be a cake walk.
If Charles’ problems stemmed from the fact that he loved God more than his wife...then glory be to God. At least one christian has his priorities straight. And if this is not the case, then let it be between God and charles. No one...I mean absolutely no one in this forum has the right to criticize.
As Amy Carmichael wrote ...”unless you have suffered, how can you understand and comfort others who are suffering.” Give glory to God in all things. This is God’s will...if it wasn’t then Charles would not be where he is today.
1. No one knows all the details except those in the marriage and God.
2. We don’t know if he told his wife that in order to save the marriage he would leave the ministry. But if he had strong conviction of God not to, then going against God’s direction to him could have led the man to a bad place as well. Again, we really don’t know what transpired. It seems it is his wife that chose to leave the marriage and not him. How could he have forced her to stay? He sought to help the situation for seven years, and then ultimately, the wife left him anyway. She may have had her own issues—usually trouble in marriage is at least to one degree or another, a two-way street. She perhaps ended up in another relationship herself. Who knows? We really don’t know. Only she and God really know where she stands spiritually today. Is she serving God???? Shrugs??? At least Dr. Stanley is trying to consistently and faithfully serve God.
People don’t understand that sadly if a marriage waits too long to get help, the chances of survival become slimmer and slimmer. It’s kind of like what we in the medical field understand about something called ventricular fibrillation. If it is still a course electrical rhythm, there is a greater chance of shocking someone out of the rhythm. One is goes to a fine V-Fib, the chances of survival become almost nothing. The same thing is true when it comes to catching problems that lead up to a “death” EKG rhythm. This happens in marriages regularly, unfortunately. People wait too long to get the right intervention for proper healing and marital health. Every day that we wait to get into truly effective counseling or therapy for our marriage relationships—and yes, every day we wait to get God actively involved in making our marriages better or restoring our relationships, the harder it becomes to have a healthy one—the more sick our marriages become.
People wait WAY TOO long to get help soon enough in their marriages—BOTTOM LINE. That is perhaps one of the biggest reasons for the high divorce rate—that along with being faithful and obedient to trusting God with the matter of choosing His best choice of spouse for us in the first place. But for practical purposes, I will say that even then, people can run into trouble in their relationships—and so they need to know how to jump right in to get it health and keep it healthy!
We are often impatient and then we are lazy with doing the real work needed to have healthy relationships. And really that first starts with have a healthy, intimate relationship with God in the first place.
Many families in ministry suffer; b/c the demands of ministry are great. And Satan loves to destroy families—I am convinced of this. The demands in many fields are great.
But we don’t know that he didn’t propose to take time out with Anna to exclusely work on their marriage. In fact, it well may be that he did. And if in fact he did not dedicate himself to such a thing, that ultimately is between he and God and God will deal with him on that if, but I think the Lord would not give him rest about it, if that were the case. What’s more, if it were the case, it would severely and negatively affect his ministry and his ability to give authentic, wise,holy, and truly spiritual teaching and counseling. I am not really see that as the case with his ministry. He teaches with a balance of love, truth, wisdom, holiness, and authenticity. God doesn’t play with those He calls to His service.
By all accounts and public record, it was his wife that filed, not once, but twice. My unofficial, “gut” guess is that the marriage had problems that waited too long to get reviewed and dealt with at least from someone’s point of view. I have seen it many, many times. A lot of men sadly don’t get that women will hold on, but if they leave them holding the “hope” bag too long without enough intervention, eventually the feelings of love and connectedness die. Not every human is strong enough to hold on in the Lord—women often need a lot of nuturing and tenderness and connectedness. Can a relationship re-bloom??? Yes, but many folks get impatient again or they become so terribly discouraged that they give up and move on. I suspect that may be what happened with Anna. For whatever reason/s, she just gave up. Perhaps she found someone else, which would make sense out of pushing for divorce in the first place. Why get a divorce unless you either want to hook up with someone else, or unless you want to strike out at the spouse—if you know that such a thing could hurt the other person’s career? If she is living a celibate life, could she not have done so and not filed for divorce. Do you not think that this is not the case in a number of marriages? Do you not think that as folks grow older, they don’t need to have sexual relations or the same level of companionship? So unless she had someone else in mind, or the hope for someone else, or unless she wanted to perhaps strike out against the pastor, what was the point of not living as married but separate? Understand that I am not making a value judgement on this practice one way or another. I am simply trying to find out her need to absolutely persue with getting a legal divorce.
I have wondered about this particular situation over the years. I don’t know, and don’t presume to know what really happened. But I do think Dr. STanley appears to be gentleman enough to not allow his ex-wife to be exposed or dragged through the mud in such a way—believing perhaps that ultimately her choices are between she and God and not the rest of the world.
The specifics were probably settled from a legal perspective that detailed knowledge NOT be released. This happens in many high profile cases. I have seen how one ex-spouse will protect the other from exposure for something their ex-spouse or soon-to-be expouse is struggling with. I have also seen where in such cases, the Christian spouse still remarried. I don’t know how to comment on that from a Biblical perspective. At the least I can say in the cases to which I referring, one in particular, the Christian spouse was not a pastor; so perhaps in their minds, the same standards are not held to them. But the spouse didn’t want the outside world to know about the other ex-spouses drug or alcohol problem or whatever. So records and information was closed from public consumption. And that seems only fair and decent.
Biblically, if Anna Stanley left Dr. Stanley, and he is not married to another person, and if he is living faithfully before God, there was or is no reason for him to leave his position as pastor, unless God directs him elsewhere.
Sadly Christians can get so stuck in imbalance and a confused sense of legalism that they miss the forrest for the trees.
All those in Christ will all stand before the Beama Seat Judgment. We will all have to look at what we have, in this life, gained versus what we have caused to be suffered as loss. I am concerned enough about this for myself. I personally think Dr.CS is probably in a much better standing with that than I am. So who am I to stand in imbalanced, limited judgment over him?
Just as a genuine priest can live a consecrated, celibate life of service for Christ, so can a pastor that is divorced, widowed, etc. Many folks live in marriages where their partners have severe disabilities. For all intents and purposes, their lives with their spouses are celibate.
There are all kinds of scenarios really.
The man is not violating Scripture by staying as pastor at the church. He has, rather, faced something that he can now not control, and he is trying to live faithfully toward God in fulltime, celibate service. He probably stated what he orginally stated (”If my wife divorces me, I will resign.”) for two reasons. 1. He thought that the marriage situation still had hope of saving—apparently his wife decided that it did not. 2. He believed that which most fundamental Christianity had beaten into folks and assumed “one wife” = divorce = something that the husband can totally control. (Many a husband will sadly tell you that once their former spouses filed, that was that as far as the marriage was concerned—from the wives’ point of view.) So, if a spouse is determined to divorce a spouse, it can be entirely out of the other spouse’s control.
The issue as far as pastoring the church isn’t one of divorce though; for some say Scripture would teach (regardless of current legal views) that the person is still married to the spouse, and that, if she is involved in another such relationship or marriage, she then is the one living in adultery—that this is so until death of either spouse. So the law can do what it wants, but as far as God is concerned, the person is still married to their first mate of intimacy. (Some will find this position controversial, and I lean in agreement with it, but take some acception b/c of God’s grace, and b/c Scripture doesn not expound upon it enough to fully clarify it. Perhaps the clarification is as simple as all that, and people have problems with it, and God knew they would, so, it stands as it stands, but there is the ultimate position in Scripture to persue, and that is one of the Gospel itself. I will not say as if totally absolute on it. I do tend to lean in this direction—even to the point of perhaps physical intimacy with one that a person doesn’t marry. That seems strick and harsh to many. But I’ve taught it to my children; b/c it seems fitting in the whole of Scripture, and b/c God doesn’t seem to take sexual engagement as trivial play as most have and do. Scripturally He uses the virgin man and woman in marriage as a picture of Himself and the Church. So I personally feel it is important to stay faithful to that—though I don’t condemn others for falling short of it.)
But Dr. Stanley’s isue with regard to Scripture and the Timothy epistle in my view is really one of being faithful to one person in marriage for a lifetime. So long as Pastor Stanley is not engaged in such intimate relationships with others—male or female—he can still be effective in service and living a holy life in service to God in his appointed role, period—end of discussion.
If his wife is involved with another person, that is sad, but he has no power over that. He is himself seeking to be obedient, celibate, and faithful to God, so he then has become like Paul or like many a faithful priest. (I say this and I am Protestant and generally quite conservative. But some Protestants need to understand that there are very devout, dedicated, faithful, spiritual, and Biblically directed Catholic priests in the world. Yes, perhaps they may follow certain teachings of the RCC that can be questioned from a Scriptural perspective, but I have met some amazingly faithful, knowledgeable, spiritual and highly effective pastor-priests.)
We all will not agree on everything. That is the nature of reality. For example, I don’t personally think it is true that the water Jesus turned into wine was grape juice. Such a thought is imbalanced in my view and it negates the amazing glory of the miracle. It takes a long time for fermentation to occur. Especially a fermenting process that produced wine of the quality shared by one of the guests at the wedding at Canna. Generally the best wines take time. The guest stated that ‘BEST wine was saved for last.’ The nuances of flavor of wine are great and go much farther than saying Welches tastes better than Giant-brand grape juice. So, no. It doesn’t fit. It amazes me how Christians that are stuck into a particular mentality and totally miss the glory of the miracle. God caused instantaneous fermentation and natural expert wine cultivation!!! What glory! Wine isn’t bad. It is how it is used that can be bad.
So, too, the Bible and Scripture isn’t bad, but it is glorious, wonderful, and true; yet it can be used in a very negative way.
Charles Stanley’s situation seems to be yet another example of “Biblical misuse abuse.” And such abuse will be brought into accountability, I believe, one day.
(And BTW, I am sorry to another poster above, but I must say the Bible is amazingly clear about assurance of salvation—we need to be authentic in having a relationship with Him, but it is not what we do or have done, but all about what Christ has done and is doing that saves and keeps us. We don’t lose the Holy Spirit within us, we either genuinely received the HS in the first place or we did not. Christ didn’t die and resurrect so that He could be an “Indian Giver” so to speak. There is no “take backs” or losing of what Christ does in the spirit of those that truly receive Him.)
So long as Charles Stanley is genuine and faithful to Scripture, Christ, the whole of Scripture, and continues to teach the truth in love, God is certainly not condemning him. But those that condemn him will stand to face condemnation—at least to some degree—themselves.
I am convinced that both truth and grace simultaneously, that is, that truth in Godly love is what saves and helps any of us, period.