John Wesley

Can Bad Husbands Really Be Good Pastors?

Consider John Wesley, one of the greatest Christian preachers who ever lived, as an example. Nathan Busenitz, at the Cripplegate Blog, recently wrote an article titled “John Wesley’s Failed Marriage.” In this passage from Stephen Tomkins’ biography on Wesley, he quotes a couple biographies about Wesley, and some statements about Wesley’s marriage are startling:

  • When Wesley left for a ministry tour in Ireland in 1758, Molly reported that her husband’s parting words to her were: “I hope I shall see your wicked face no more” (p. 155).
  • “Reunited in England, they clashed violently—Wesley refusing to change his writing habits [of sending affectionate letters to other women] and Molly accusing him of adultery and calling down on him, in her own words, ‘all the curses from Genesis to Revelation’” (p. 155).
  • “Almost the sole surviving record of this marriage from Molly’s side dates from December 1760, when she said Wesley left a meeting early with one Betty Disine and was seen still with her the following morning. She told him ‘in a loving manner to desist from running after strange women for your character is at stake’” (p. 159).
  • “In 1771, Molly announced that she was leaving John again. On 23 January, the Journal reports, ‘For what I cause I know not to this day, [my wife] set out for Newcastel, purposing “never to return.” I did not leave her: I did not send her away: I will not call her back.” (p. 174).

How could the father of Methodism have such a glaring blind spot? I don’t know. But don’t assume that you and I are immune from such blind spots.

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