The orthodox Christian theology of Hadley Robinson

Charles Stanley's Divorce:  A Tragedy for the Church

by Hadley Robinson

Rather than carefully stick to Scripture, Dr. Stanley has chosen to teach and now practice what is popular with much of the church culture, including going along with the habit of putting one's family second to a host of things, including a career.  Before filing for divorce, Dr. Stanley's wife, Anna, wrote this to their church,
Long ago . . . Charles, in effect, abandoned our marriage. He chose his priorities, and I have not been one of them.1
Even though he agreed to step down, he later changed his mind.  It would have been the right thing to do for such a prominent Christian and teacher in the Church.2

Such an act of contrition as stepping down would have announced to the morally decadent culture in which we live that God hates divorce.  It would also have been a witness to the Biblical teaching that a married man must put his wife first, loving her as Christ loved the Church.

Evangelical Protestants do not encourage men to be single and, therefore, undivided in their interests (1Cor. 7:33).  This is to say nothing of the fact that those who call themselves Christians and who have had contempt for personal holiness, especially of the purity of  the marriage bed, have been severely judged by God (Rev. 2-3).  Examples of this include the churches of Constantinople and Alexandria.

Responsible Christian leadership must set the example for the Christian both in speech and in deed.  This is the sense of Scripture (Acts 26:20; 1Timothy 3; Titus 1:16).   Dr. Stanley is a poor example.  In particular, if a man cannot manage his own family, how can he manage God's Church (1Tim. 3:4-5)?  How many countless Christian men are now able to comfort themselves that they do not have the primary responsibility for their failed marriages?

Dr. Stanley makes the faulty case that he is now a better counselor for many in the churches who have experienced the pain of divorce.  This manner of thinking does not have precedent in Scripture, good or bad.  However, it does encourage Christians to sin by suggesting that, by engaging in it, we are somehow better as a result.  "I'm going to become a drunk so I can better counsel drunks...."  The Prophets, including the Apostle Paul, did not have to wallow in immorality to better assume their high roles as prophets of God.  Who can suggest that King David is a better role model for husbands after his affair with Bathsheba?

Dr. Stanley did not take the high road for the sake of the Church and the reputation of Christ among the heathen.  This is a loss to all of us.  He put himself and "his ministry" first, as did most in his congregation at First Baptist Church, Atlanta.  The churches have many men who have put their wives and families second in priority and he has given them an excuse.  How many more marriage will fall apart thanks to the actions of Charles Stanley?
"Thou shalt not follow a multitude to do evil."  - Exodus 23:2
We live among a multitude that is intent on doing evil.  Will you follow the crowd, too?  I hope not....
1Christianity Today, April 29, 1996
2For a thorough review of Charles Stanley's ministry by Biblical Discernment Ministries go here: