Henry’s right and Henry’s wrong.
I have always been a Clinton hater. I just have less than zero respect for the man as a person. And Henry is right. I love how he’s obsessed with his legacy. Because, history will revile him.
I have always been a George P. Bush lover. I don’t know, I’ve just read some influential books about him. He’s just a good man. I don’t think he’s a great politician, but I think he is a great man. And I am fully willing to credit the economic boom to him. Not fully, but he deserves some credit.
I can argue with him on his stand on divorce, though. His stand on divorce is a matter of principle, not theology. But that’s lacking to me. Because without the theology, there’s no justification for the principle. That is, sure, his stand maintains the principle, but it doesn’t explain why that principle is right. It’s not enough to just simply state that it should be the principle; it requires justification. And in my mind, that can’t be done without appeal to theology.
His example is also flawed. Because what I’m asking is not how we should view divorce for ourselves, but how we should view it for others. I know that sounds weird, but that’s what it really is. I can fully believe that in certain extenuating circumstances, extreme ones, divorce is an option. And I can simultaneously fully believe that that option should not and will not be an option for myself. Thus, believing that divorce can in an extreme case be an option doesn’t necessarily imply any less than full commitment on my part.
And I don’t think that’s a stretch. I think there’s a lot of situations where either one’s spiritual maturity or spiritual gifts leads them to expect a measure of spiritual discipline of themselves, which, although good for everyone, shouldn’t necessarily be expected of everyone. Say someone is led to get up for 6 AM prayer 4 days a week. That is clearly a good thing. One could argue that everyone should do something like it; or that if everyone did that, it would be good. But should everyone be held to the same commitment of doing so that the person is? Clearly not.
Obviously, commitment in marriage is not as optional as morning prayer. But you get my point. It’s not contradictory to hold others to a different standard than yourself; doing so in no way lessens your commitment. So the question in my mind isn’t whether we should hold ourselves to that standard, but whether we should hold everyone else without exception to that standard. Emphasis on without exception.
We don’t need to do that to uphold our own full commitment, so that’s not justification. It’s just whether the principle itself should be defended so vigorously that divorce is never allowed. And again, to me, that’s a question you can’t answer without theology. Simply appealing to the principle itself isn’t justification for it, and at worst, is legalistic. You have to explain why it should be upheld.
That said, the line Henry draws isn’t as absurd as I think he presents it. It’s really no different from any other sin. We should always say to people, never steal. And vigorously uphold that. (Although one might argue that even for this principle, there are extenuating circumstances that make it OK.) But after they’ve stolen, given their repentant heart, we should forgive them immediately. The only thing with the sin of divorce is that it tends to have deeper and longer lasting ramifications than other sins.