Anybody who thinks that marriage is a ‘walk in the park’ is probably still single. Married life, like anything worthwhile in life, takes effort. When I perform weddings I like to remind the starry eyed couple that marriage can be the closest thing to heaven on earth… or hell on earth, that life has to offer. It will all depend on how hard they work at it. Of, course they are never really listening to me at the moment because after all they are rapturously in love, right? Well, Love is blind, but marriage is sure an eye opener.
Last week, Benny Hinn, world famous, jet setting healing evangelist (he lives in a $10 million house and owns a Lear jet that costs $100,000/month to operate) announced that his wife of over 30 years is divorcing him. Even though the couple had been separated for a month, Pastor Hinn said, “He… was shocked and saddened to learn of this news without any previous notice.” Hmmm, so he didn’t know his marriage was in trouble? What does that tell you? To make matters even worse, Hinn’s ministry released a statement saying, “Pastor Hinn also wants everyone to know that he remains firmly and unquestionably committed to God’s calling—as he continues in his thirty-sixth year of ministry—to take the life-saving and miracle-working Gospel of Jesus Christ to the nations through crusades, broadcasts, and mission outreaches.” In other words, “I am more committed to carrying on my ministry than my marriage.” I’m sorry, but that is a pathetic new standard from God’s ministers. In God’s greater economy, family is always to be our first priority. If we fail on that front, then we have failed in job #1.
I know I will hear the typical horrified responses. “Pastor Mark, who are you to judge another? …Let he who is without sin cast the first stone. …Where is grace and forgiveness?” Blah, blah, blah! Before you see me as a self-righteous Pharisee, let me be clear. I am not claiming to be one bit better than him. I am as vulnerable to failure as the next guy. The real point is, shouldn’t God’s ministers, of all people, be held up to His highest standard? What kind of a message does it send to the rest of the Church? If the pastors who lead God’s people can’t hold their marriages together, then what hope is there for the rest of us? Actually, no one has the right to lower that standard. History has shown us that people of position rarely feel the rules apply to them. Remember Henry VIII? He didn’t like the rules of the Church as they related to him… so he changed them. Of his six wives, he divorced two and beheaded two. A mnemonic for the fates of Henry’s wives is “divorced, beheaded, died, divorced, beheaded, survived”.
The list of famous divorced and remarried ministers is not a short one. Oral Roberts’ son Richard divorced his first wife Patti in 1979 and married Lindsay and kept on trucking. He has 2 children from Patti and 3 from Lindsay. Jimmy and Tammy Baker of the infamous PTL scandal divorced and both remarried. Baker is back on TV, albeit a much more humble man. More recently, tattoo decorated Canadian revivalist Todd Bentley divorced his wife Shonnah, married his girlfriend and was back in ministry within a year. The list goes on and on.
What are we going to do with Jesus words on the subject? “Whoever divorces his wife and marries another commits adultery” (Luke 16:18). I know that divorce is not the unforgivable sin, and that many reading here are themselves divorced. But that doesn’t change God’s standard. If these men merely turn the page and carry on like nothing happened, then God’s word means nothing. Where is repentance, restoration or better yet reconciliation? As much as I have slagged Tiger Woods for his marital indiscretions, at least he has had the decency to take a leave of absence from golf and TRY to work on his marriage. Pastor Hinn has stated he is not planning on missing a beat. Maybe I have been too hard on Tiger!