Matthew 19: Thou Shall Not Teach if Divorced — At Least at Wheaton College

Wheaton College professor Kent Gramm thought that divorcing his wife of 30 years was bad enough. Yet, he probably did not expect that the one asset that neither he nor his wife Lynelle would share is his income. He was fired by the college after 20 years, which viewed his divorce to be immoral.

Wheaton proudly proclaims on its website that it is “For Christ and His Kingdom,” click here. It has a “statement of faith” which can be read below.

After Gramm told the college that he was divorcing his wife, officials determined that he was in violation of a morality clause in his contract. The college follows the view that divorce is only permitted in the New Testament in cases of adultery or desertion. Under the faith statement of the contract, the faculty agrees to comply with all such moral standards. When a divorce occurs, a faculty committee views the private matter to determine if it falls under one of the exceptions laid out in Matthew 19 and the writings of the Apostle Paul.

For those rusty on Matthew 19, here is the excerpt (which appears part of the Wheaton faculty code):

3 Some Pharisees came to him to test him. They asked, “Is it lawful for a man to divorce his wife for any and every reason?”
4 “Haven’t you read,” he replied, “that at the beginning the Creator `made them male and female,’
5 and said, `For this reason a man will leave his father and mother and be united to his wife, and the two will become one flesh’?
6 So they are no longer two, but one. Therefore what God has joined together, let man not separate.”
7 “Why then,” they asked, “did Moses command that a man give his wife a certificate of divorce and send her away?”
8 Jesus replied, “Moses permitted you to divorce your wives because your hearts were hard. But it was not this way from the beginning.
9 I tell you that anyone who divorces his wife, except for marital unfaithfulness, and marries another woman commits adultery.”

A very popular English teacher, students have organized petitions for his reinstatement, but Gramm has decided not to contest the firing: “I think it’s wrong to have to discuss your personal life with your employer,” he said, “and I also don’t want to be in a position of accusing my spouse, so I declined to appeal or discuss the matter in any way with my employer.”

He is not the first. Joshua Hochschild, now an assistant professor of philosophy at Mt. St. Mary’s University in Emmitsburg, Md., left Wheaton College several years ago after he committed the immoral act of converting to Roman Catholicism.

As an academic, I believe Gramm is wrong in not fighting. Sometimes the best lesson that you can teach your students is by example. Wheaton is acting in a positively medieval fashion. Students should not see a mentor acting passively in the face of an injustice. This is very similar to a recent firing in New York where a principal initially left to avoid causing a ruckus over a teeshirt, click here.

Gramm has objected to the lesson that the college is teaching in the matter: “I feel that it’s important for them to know that they’re not somehow rejected by God for having more or less normal lives and for having lives that didn’t work out the way they intended them to turn out,” Gramm said.

For full story, click here

STATEMENT OF FAITH
WE BELIEVE in one sovereign God, eternally existing in three persons: the everlasting Father, His only begotten Son, Jesus Christ our Lord, and the Holy Spirit, the giver of life; and we believe that God created the Heavens and the earth out of nothing by His spoken word, and for His own glory.

WE BELIEVE that God has revealed Himself and His truth in the created order, in the Scriptures, and supremely in Jesus Christ; and that the Scriptures of the Old and New Testaments are verbally inspired by God and inerrant in the original writing, so that they are fully trustworthy and of supreme and final authority in all they say.

WE BELIEVE that Jesus Christ was conceived by the Holy Spirit, born of the Virgin Mary, was true God and true man, existing in one person and without sin; and we believe in the resurrection of the crucified body of our Lord, in His ascension into heaven, and in His present life there for us as Lord of all, High Priest, and Advocate.

WE BELIEVE that God directly created Adam and Eve, the historical parents of the entire human race; and that they were created in His own image, distinct from all other living creatures, and in a state of original righteousness.

WE BELIEVE that our first parents sinned by rebelling against God’s revealed will and thereby incurred both physical and spiritual death, and that as a result all human beings are born with a sinful nature that leads them to sin in thought, word, and deed.

WE BELIEVE in the existence of Satan, sin, and evil powers, and that all these have been defeated by God in the cross of Christ.

WE BELIEVE that the Lord Jesus Christ died for our sins, according to the Scriptures, as a representative and substitutionary sacrifice, triumphing over all evil; and that all who believe in Him are justified by His shed blood and forgiven of all their sins.

WE BELIEVE that all who receive the Lord Jesus Christ by faith are born again of the Holy Spirit and thereby become children of God and are enabled to offer spiritual worship acceptable to God.

WE BELIEVE that the Holy Spirit indwells and gives life to believers, enables them to understand the Scriptures, empowers them for godly living, and equips them for service and witness.

WE BELIEVE that the one, holy, universal Church is the body of Christ and is composed of the communities of Christ’s people. The task of Christ’s people in this world is to be God’s redeemed community, embodying His love by worshipping God with confession, prayer, and praise; by proclaiming the gospel of God’s redemptive love through our Lord Jesus Christ to the ends of the earth by word and deed; by caring for all of God’s creation and actively seeking the good of everyone, especially the poor and needy.

WE BELIEVE in the blessed hope that Jesus Christ will soon return to this earth, personally, visibly, and unexpectedly, in power and great glory, to gather His elect, to raise the dead, to judge the nations, and to bring His Kingdom to fulfillment.

WE BELIEVE in the bodily resurrection of the just and unjust, the everlasting punishment of the lost, and the everlasting blessedness of the saved.

7 thoughts on “Matthew 19: Thou Shall Not Teach if Divorced — At Least at Wheaton College”

  1. Wheaton alumnus:

    It is amazing how easily you dismiss our concerns about an employer having any right to the intimate details of an employee’s personal life. Maybe you would accept discussing your wife’s abortion, or an extramarital affair, or a sexually transmitted disease with your employer but most would not. More importantly, no one would expect a job action as a result. It is not the Fifteen Century, or well maybe it is a your institution of “higher” learning.

    Gram is a coward and deserves his fate since he fails to see that silence in the face of this outrage is acceptance, and thus promotes it. More important is the arrogance of this branch of faith which accords more respect to dogma than a relationship carved over years of service. By the way, Moses approved divorce, is he separated from Wheaton College as well, or is that a passage they choose to ignore?

  2. Wheaton Alumnus wrote:
    Also, Dr. Gramm was not fired. He resigned. True, he would have been fired if he had not chosen to resign, but there is a significant difference. Before you bash Wheaton College, a respectable and legitimate institution of higher education, please do some research and get your facts straight. Consult the College’s press release, the Chicago Tribune, or the New York Times.
    ******************************

    What part of Prof. Turley’s story is “incorrect?” Please enlighten us. Also, I don’t consider a college that places religion above all else as an “institute of higher education,” but that’s just me. If you choose to think of that as “bashing,” I’m obviously guilty as charged. Got handcuffs?

  3. “Yet, he probably did not expect that the one asset that neither he nor his wife Lynelle would share is his income. He was fired by the college after 20 years, which viewed his divorce to be immoral.”

    Dr. Gramm knew exactly what would happen when he chose not to discuss the reasons for his divorce with the College administration:

    ‘I’m accepting the policy as it applies to me because I knew it was in place and I don’t expect anyone to make any exceptions’ -Gramm

    Also, Dr. Gramm was not fired. He resigned. True, he would have been fired if he had not chosen to resign, but there is a significant difference. Before you bash Wheaton College, a respectable and legitimate institution of higher education, please do some research and get your facts straight. Consult the College’s press release, the Chicago Tribune, or the New York Times.

  4. I’m confused. WHERE in that “statement of faith” does it specifically say teachers CAN’T be divorced? Or is the prospective teacher supposed to interpret it somewhere in that impossibly vague wording? If I were a teacher, the LAST place I’d look to for employment is a “christian” academy or college. Too much religionist insanity to deal with.

  5. dunder:

    “Good the college still has the right to determine who they employ.”
    ***********************

    Then you must agree that discrimination based on characteristics unrelated to job performance is perfectly acceptable. I think we can safely assume you are not African-American, Hispanic, or female then. Did you ever hear about the sixty’s, or Martin Luther King, or the Feminist Movement, Ce’sar Chavez, and on and on. I have no idea as to your stature, or taste for alcohol, but I can’t help thinking of Dean Wormer in “Animal House” who uttered the immortal line, “fat, drunk and stupid is no way to go through life, son.” Selfishly for me though, you do provide more than a little amusement everyday. Carry on.

  6. “WE BELIEVE that … [t]he task of Christ’s people in this world is to be God’s redeemed community, embodying His love ….; by caring for all of God’s creation and actively seeking the good of everyone…”
    ************************

    They might want to consider amendments to that part of their “creed.” I could offer some, but they would not be well-received. We shall know they are Christians by their love? Really?

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