He is one of my favorite pastors and authors. Andy Stanley, pastor of Northpoint Church in suburban Atlanta, with 33,000 members, is always thinking outside the box. He consistently finds a path toward encouraging the disenfranchised without compromising the fundamental message of the Gospel. He has reached out to the LGBT community in a way few evangelicals have. Now he has a word for Christian divorcees, particularly in the days leading up to Christmas.
In his Unwrapping Christmas blog, Stanley suggests divorced Christians should make “appropriate expectations” for themselves this holiday season. In ordere to deal with the loneliness they might feel over the holidays, Stanley recommends spending time with friends and family so they may provide “companionship and encouragement” during what can be a most difficult time.
Stanley also encourages divorcees to not overload themselves with activities and chores during the holiday season, as their emotional burden may be consuming. He writes, “Pray to Gode and expect him to meet ALL your needs: emotional, spiritual, physical, and financial. He loves you and cares for you. As his child, you can count on the faithfulness of his promises.” Citing Matthew 6:31-33, he calls on believers to look to God rather than material needs for spiritual sustenance.
Andy Stanley is the son of famed pastor and former president of the Southern Baptist Convention, Dr. Charles Stanley. The Stanley family has long been in the media spotlight for their evangelical leadership, as well as the elder Stanley’s highly publicized deivorce from his wife, Anna, that was finalized in 2000.
Charles receieved high criticism from fellow evangelicals for getting divorced, with many even calling for him to step down from his role as senior pastor of Atlanta’s historic First Baptist Church. But during this drawn-out separation and subsequent divorce, he said he was willing to work on his marriage. In the end, he got divorced, but was able to continue leading his church on the condition that he does not remarry.
According to a 2012 CNN report, Andy Stanley has taught that people who divorce and remarry are committing adultery, an uncomfortable teaching for the American Church today, where studies indicated that people who identify as Christians have a divorce rate similar to the larger population (although regular church attenders have lower divorce rates than nominal believers).
Once again, Andy has addressed a subject most ignore, offering valuable encouragement without compromising the truth of God’s word. As my old friend, George Johnson, used to say, “Divorced people are not second class citizens” to God. If you are divorced, remember you are still the Bride of Christ. That is a relationship to celebrate during the Christmas season and every other day of the year.