Greg Locke, divorce and privacy : A Pentecostal position for families
I have been following this mess with Greg Locke that pastors a small independent church that is Baptist in doctrine and has a large following on Facebook. I am not a huge fan of the guy because he is overly political. I believe the gospel is counter the culture, not interpret it. However, tens of thousands love his rants.
One of the “heresy hunter” websites (that that bashes anything that is not Baptist) run the story about his divorce that was for all practical purposes, a private matter and should have remained that way. Being a public figure does not mean they do not have a right to privacy.
Before someone claims I am going easy on divorce (I can hear them saying it now!), Azusa Report just released a position paper last month that laid out there is NO grounds for a believe to leave or divorce a spouse. None. If you are interested in why I do not consider adultery and abuse as biblical grounds, make sure you read it.
In the end, all this public consumption of private matters does is allow for endless amounts of gossip and slander to take place. Both of which are against the lifestyle of the New Testament. Greg Locke personal lives is none of our business.
Biblical leadership in view of ecclesiology
What is the proper response to a pastor giving a divorce in our churches? Pentecostals have historically (and rightfully) been very strong on the issue. Is our unspoken rule of divorced people can not be ordained into ministry even grounded on biblical truth? The reality is the jury is still out and will always be out on the subject.
However, the point I want to make this matter should be dealt with at the local level and among the elders of the local assembly. It should not be dealt with a national or even district level. The fact that an overseer can come into a church and overturn the local elders is not scriptural. This is not to mention that many of the people by the time they become a district official have become more political in nature.
We do not know the story normally. I know of several pastors who their wives left them for other men. They did nothing wrong and they fought for their marriages. They had to resign in shame from their ministry position because of a polity that is too strict. I am all for sitting down people like what Jimmy Swaggart pulled. However, sometimes the pastor is actually innocent in the matter.
As a movement, we need to learn to trust those who labor among them and know more of the details than listening to the rumor mill (that is sin) to find out what someone a hundred of miles away will do. I understand I am also calling into question the position on ordination as well. That’s a different discussion for a different day!
Does divorce disqualify people from ministry?
Laying aside the doctrinal issue of what is ministry, the simple answer is no. Peter was restored by Christ and lead the greatest altar call in history (sorry, Reinhard!) There is also many other examples of people who sinned and was restored to ministry in the Bible. God has used prostitutes, liars and murderers. God can used divorced people in ministry just as easily. I am not, by any means, calling for us to become the Vineyard that has most of its pastor having divorces.
They need to repent for their sins and ask for forgiveness for those involved. This is important to be done privately and with the people involved. It is not something that should become public knowledge or the latest fuel for rumor mill that keeps all the old ladies at the local Assembly of God busy.
Repenting means to change your mind in order to change your life. It does mean the pastors need to go a social media campaign humiliating himself and lay in the middle of the altar in sack clothes drowning in his own tears. Repentance is to change behaviors, not have shout the house tops your sins and shortcomings.
The people directly hurt by the offense need to privately addressed and there need to be forgiveness. Just because you have to know the guy as you pass in Wal-Mart does not mean you need to have the details and he needs to ask for your forgiveness. The real interest that you would have is the latest to gossip about.
The real problem in America is our attitude
We have gotten to the place that everyone is assumed to be corrupt and we look for the worst in people, not the best. Everyone has skeletons in the closet but that does not mean that it should become public knowledge. We have gotten to a place that everyone wants to expose each other’s dirt. It is wrong and it is sinful. Jesus came to redeem us, not expose us.
In many Pentecostal churches, we have taken this wrong attitude in the culture and threw a little discernment and prophecy on top of it. God is not going to speak to you about exposing people. Period. Not happening. It is downright witchcraft. Not sure which part of love covers sin did people miss?
The bigger issue is they do not just discuss the sin of people in the sunday school classes (that are little more gossip sessions). They even start discussing issues thats are long over. If you do not believe me, does the name Roy Moore sound familiar? Our churches are full of people talking about people past failures.
As far as Greg Locke, he is the victim of the rumor mill and the desire for heresy hunter to get traffic to their websites. It is wrong of us to put people’s dirty laundry out on the lines for the whole world to see. The people really involved need the privacy involved for repentance, forgiveness, and healing to happen.
At the end of the day, Greg Locke and everyone involved needs our prayers, not our gossip!