I just want you to read this again and think about it and pray about it.
Evan57 :ears: w/o hear
'An Independent Baptist Church'
Can a Divorced or remarried man be a pastor?
Many churches and denominations will not allow a person who has ever been divorced or remarried to hold the office of Pastor or deacon in church. They base this view upon their interpretation of 1 Timothy 3:2
"A bishop then must be blameless, the husband of one wife, vigilant, sober, of good behaviour, given to hospitality, apt to teach; 3 Not given to wine, no striker, not greedy of filthy lucre; but patient, not a brawler, not covetous; 4 One that ruleth well his own house, having his children in subjection with all gravity;5 (For if a man know not how to rule his own house, how shall he take care of the church of God?) 6 Not a novice, lest being lifted up with pride he fall into the condemnation of the devil. 7 Moreover he must have a good report of them which are without; lest he fall into reproach and the snare of the devil.8 Likewise must the deacons be grave, not doubletongued, not given to much wine, not greedy of filthy lucre; 9 Holding the mystery of the faith in a pure conscience. 10 And let these also first be proved; then let them use the office of a deacon, being found blameless. 11 Even so must their wives be grave, not slanderers, sober, faithful in all things. 12 Let the deacons be the husbands of one wife, ruling their children and their own houses well."
These Qualifications are 'Present Tense'....
Covering a man's present life of the past few years...
If that interpretation is true...that a divorced or remarried person can never be a deacon or pastor...than that is the only one of all of these qualifications for the pastor and deacon above in First Timothy that goes back over a person's entire life....even before they were saved! Even if the divorced person was the innocent party, some would say this bars them forever from these offices! The fact is, all of these qualifications are 'present tense', meaning... in this person's present life of the past few years, have these qualifications been true of this person? None of us have been 'blameless' over our entire life, for example. To take the view this passage is going back over a person's entire life to look at their marital status is just not what the passage is saying! These qualifications refer to the present life of a man, in the past few years, has his life met these qualifications? The irony of this view is, that some people who have been 'married' for years, but yet have been flirtatious, even had affairs in the past, or promiscuous before marriage, are still allowed to be pastor or deacon later on, but not the poor guy whose wife left him to perhaps run off with another man!
What does 'Husband of one wife' mean?
The phrase 'husband of one wife', I believe, was a slang phrase, common in that day, which meant a pastor or deacon had to be a 'one woman type of man'....not a 'flirt' or a 'ladies' man'...for obvious reasons!
As Kenneth Wuest Says in his WORD STUDIES IN THE GREEK NEW TESTAMENT (Volume 2, p53);
"The entire context is one in which the character of the bishop (pastor) is being discussed. Thus, one can translate, "a one-wife sort of a husband," or "a one-woman sort of a man." We speak of the Airedale as a one-man dog. We mean by that, that it is his nature to become attached to only one man, his master. Since character is emphasized by the Greek construction, the bishop should be a man who loves only one woman as his wife."
As Chuck Swindoll says in his EXCELLENCE IN MINISTRY study Guide on First Timothy (page 41)
"...phrase literally reads, "one-woman man." As simple as that sounds, it has been the subject of numerous interpretations....(some) have interpreted the phrase to mean that a candidate for overseer must never have been divorced in his life, including in his unsaved years. But this seems to be too restrictive...in light of Jesus' words in Matthew 19:9, where he permits--though He does not promote--divorce on the grounds of sexual immorality. So what does 'husband of one wife' mean? Taken in its most basic sense, it means that an overseer, if married, must be married to only one woman (which excludes bigamy, polygamy, and homosexuality) and must be devoted to his wife (which excludes promiscuity and an unhealthy marriage)."
Spiros Zodhiates says in his HEBREW-GREEK KEY STUDY BIBLE in the footnotes on page 1475 under 1 Timothy 3:2;
"The expression mias gunaikos in known in Greek grammar as...'a one-woman's husband," not a 'ladies' man, in other words. The total context speaks of the moral conduct of the bishop and the deacon. He should be totally dedicated to his wife and not be flirtatious."
As John MacArthur Jr. notes in his NEW TESTAMENT COMMENTARY ON FIRST TIMOTHY page 104-105;
"Paul is not referring to a leader's marital status...rather the issue is his moral, sexual behavior. Many men married only once are not one-woman men. Many with one wife are unfaithful to that wife. While remaining married to one woman is commendable, it is not indication or guarantee of moral purity. Some may wonder why Paul Paul begins his list with this quality. He does so because it is in this area, above all others, where leaders seem most prone to fall. The failure to be a one-woman man has put more men out of the ministry than any other sin. It is thus a matter of grave concern. ...Others maintain that Paul here forbids remarriage after the death of a spouse. As already noted, however, this standard, like all the rest refers to moral character, not marital status. Further, the Scriptures permit and honor second marriages under the proper circumstances....Still others hold that this qualification excludes divorced men, from spiritual leadership. That again, ignores the fact that Paul is not referring to marital status. Nor does the Bible forbid all remarriage after a divorce. In Matthew 5;31-32 and Matthew 19:9, our Lord permitted remarriage when a divorce was caused by adultery. Paul gave a second occasion when remarriage is permitted, when the unbelieving spouse initiates the divorce. (1 Cor. 7:15). While God hates all divorce (Mal. 2;16) He is gracious to the innocent party in those two situations. Since remarriage in itself is not a sin, it is not necessarily a blight on a man's character."
What About the Old Testament?
Some believe a passage in the Old Testament also prohibits Divorced men to serve in the Church. The passage is Leviticus 21:7 which list certain requirements for the Old Testament priests under the Mosaic Law and they were not to marry a divorced woman.
"They shall not take a wife that is a whore, or profane; neither shall they take a woman put away from her husband: for he is holy unto his God." Leviticus 21:7
Some would automatically assume from this passage that a New Testament Pastor cannot be divorced or remarry. However, if one wants to hold that position, he runs into some difficult problems from this passage because it also states in v18-19 that the following physical characteristics also barred a man from being a priest: lameness, blindness, a broken foot, a broken hand, a bad back, a dwarf, or 'he that hath a flat nose'! The fact is, the qualifications for a priest was under a different dispensation than we are in the New Testament Church. Otherwise, men with bad backs or flat noses would be out of the ministry!
Deacons or Ministers with bad backs or flat noses need not apply....
This reasoning which says a divorced person could never be pastor or deacon would allow a person convicted earlier in life of murder or other heinous crimes....or one who had molested children, to be a pastor or deacon later on in life, but the poor guy whose wife left him.....could not! Recall that the the Apostle Paul in his former life as Saul was responsible for the imprisonment and death of great numbers of believers before he was saved! (Acts 26:10-11) Is divorce worse than what Paul did?
As Roy Branson Jr. says in his book A BILL OF DIVORCEMENT (VOL 2) p411;
"Why would it be improper to disqualify Paul from service for the hideous crimes and sins he perpetrated against God and His people before he was saved, and proper to disqualify another who was guilty only of a foolish choice in marriage partners?"
Dr. John Rice says in his Book, DR. RICE HERE ARE MORE QUESTIONS, p339-340;
"I believe that any of these major sins (wrong divorce, drunkenness, murder, etc.) can be forgiven and are forgiven when there is honest repentance. Then when God has forgiven and when one has done all he can do to repudiate and undo the sins of the past (which of course, can never be undone entirely and sometimes not at all), and when he has taken time to live it down and proved himself a dependable, trustworthy Christian so that his usefulness is not hindered by the past, then he might do whatever God calls him to do and whatever God's people trust him to do....I do not believe in passing a rule that one who has ever been drunk can never be a deacon or preacher; likewise, I do not believe in passing a rule that one who has ever been divorced cannot be a deacon or preacher. And my reason is very simple; there is no such rule in the Bible."
The logic is just not Biblical....
Remember a deacon is simply a 'servant' or 'helper' to the pastor to free him from everyday tasks of care of the church so he can concentrate on prayer and study of the Word of God. To say a man who has been divorced several years ago cannot even be a 'Pastor's helper' or deacon, is just not what this verse is saying at all!
Even if a man was the guilty party of divorce several years ago, even after he was saved, this verse is not barring him from these offices! Remember, these are all present tense qualifications in the Greek. Certainly no candidate for pastor or deacon has been 'Blameless', for example, over his entire life! But, the question is, has he been 'blameless' in the eyes of the public in the past few years and above reproach? Remember if this 'NO DIVORCE DEACON/PASTOR VIEW is correct, than this is the only one of these qualifications that goes back over a person's entire life! The Greek verb tense is the same on all of these, however, and refers to a person's present life, say in the recent past few years of that person's life.
It is amazing to me how some good folks have taken a self-righteous view of this verse and interpret it to mean a poor person who has been divorced and remarried has committed the UNFORGIVABLE SIN in some Christian circles!
Someone has sarcastically said, 'If you want to stay in the ministry, you're better off to murder someone than to divorce someone.....they will forgive you of MURDER, but not divorce!'
What about the innocent party......
I have heard some say, "Well, there is no such thing as the 'innocent party' in a divorce...there was probably failure in some ways to both parties.." That is an unfair statement. You do not know that.
Howard Sugden gives the following example in his book WHAT DOES THE BIBLES SAY ABOUT? (P137);
"I have a pastor friend who's wife walked out on him. What do you do in that situation? He was a fine pastor of a fine church. She simply walked out on him. The church immediately met, because when she walked out, the pastor walked in and gave them his resignation. They asked him, 'What could you have done to save it? We have seen the situation, and we know what has happened. You are our pastor, and we are for you. And you care for us. We are going to keep you on as our pastor, if you will stay.' The man stayed on and ministered, and he has had a successful ministry."
To say that divorce is always the ULTIMATE FAILURE OF THE HOME and that both parties are always to blame is just not fair!
I think of Charles Stanley as the First Baptist Church of Atlanta who has a powerful ministry on radio and TV called 'IN TOUCH'. His wife walked out on him. He was not unfaithful. She just walked away. She filed for divorce. He still prays for her to come back. His Church asked him to remain and be their pastor. Some folks who had been influenced by this poisonous teaching above, left the church because Pastor Stanley was DIVORCED! Radio stations in this area have canceled his radio program. He has remained at First Baptist Atlanta and at IN TOUCH and the ministry and church have grown and been blessed more than ever!
One wonders how many good ministers HAVE BEEN FORCED to resign from serving the Lord and helping and blessing many, many others!
Many of the same preachers who scream vehemently against Divorced preachers and deacons hold a Scofield Bible high in the air and wave it backwards and forth. I wonder if they know that Dr. Scofield was divorced and remarried?
Divorced Deacons made to publicly resign....
Many good people feel that a Divorced person could never serve as pastor or even deacon in their church, no matter what the circumstances of the divorce were! Some deacons have been publicly shamed further after the heartache of divorce has occurred and they have been forced publicly to resign from office of deacon!
One wonders how many men have went shipwreck in the faith because of situations like this and fell out of church forever?
The very place they should get help, they were ostracized even further! Someone has rightly said, the church is the only army that will shoot its own soldiers.
Jesus Couldn't serve as deacon in some churches....
The truth is that God himself could not even be a deacon in some self-righteous churches....without getting a special waiver. The Lord, you will recall, had a divorce (Jeremiah 3:8) from the nation Israel!
Jeremiah 3:8 And I saw, when for all the causes whereby backsliding Israel committed adultery I had put her away, and given her a bill of divorce; yet her treacherous sister Judah feared not, but went and played the harlot also.
H.L. Ellison gives few good thoughts from his book DIVORCE AND REMARRIAGE:
"..One's past history may not necessarily portray his present character. It is possible to have a good marital history of single marriage and have a 'cat-calling' character of wandering affections at the same time...On the other hand, it is also possible to have a sorrowful marital history of a broken marriage while having a personal character that is above reproach. The tragedy may not have been of his own making, as noted with the prophet Hosea...The passage in 1 Timothy 3:2....puts the emphasis where Jesus put it, on the heart and present character, rather than on outward record of marital history. The emphasis is not so much on what a man ONCE was, but what he NOW is....
There is an inevitable inconsistency....
How far should these restrictions be carried? If they cannot be deacon or pastor, can they serve as usher? Collect offering? Or would that be too close to the duties of a deacon? Would they be allowed to pray or read Scripture from the pulpit, or give their testimony from the pulpit? Would that be too close to 'preaching'? To press it further, would the divorced person be allowed to sing in the choir or sing a solo? Or would such a performance border too closely to the concept of ministry? I have not heard of any such church who restricts divorced folks from being deacons or pastors from contributing to the offering plate, however."
Ralph Woodrow from his book DIVORCE AND REMARRIAGE page 83,84 states:
A preacher who was ready to 'clean house', as he put it, declared that no person in his church who had a previous marriage could sing in the choir, hold any position in the church, or even serve as an usher! "I don't believe in second marriages!" he said. A close friend of his (who had divorced and remarried) said to him in private, "I know you have only married once, but did you ever have a sexual relationship with another woman?" (Being close friends, neither considered this conversation too personal.) With some hesitation the pastor admitted there had been some involvement with...two women...long before he was married to his wife. "Well," replied the other man, "you have been married to THREE women and never even divorced the first TWO. I have been married only TWICE, but I got a divorce!"
"Some months ago I heard a man give his testimony about how God saved him from a very wicked life. Though raised in church, he had rebelled at an early age, became involved with gangs, got into drugs, cursed God, chased women, living with one than another, though he never legally married. Then he got saved, went to Bible School where he married a Christian girl, and is now an ordained minister. We can all rejoice in what God has done for him. But there is a serious INCONSISTENCY here. The denomination which ordained him does not allow divorce and remarriage (in the ministry or in deacons). Had he married even ONE of these women he lived with, any marriage after that would not be 'first' marriage and ordination would have been refused!"
The inconsistency of this double standard says, in effect, "Don't get married--just live with different ones. God will forgive this, an dif you do finally get married it will be a first marriage. But if you marry and it doesn't work out, you can never get married again...and certainly never be a deacon or minister!
J.Vernon McGee says in his book QUESTIONS AND ANSWERS:
"Can a man who is divorced and remarried still be eligible for a position, such as deacon or pastor?" Answer: "...If the deacon (or pastor) has scriptural grounds on which he got a divorce, and the circumstances are pretty generally known, then I see no reason for his not occupying the office of deacon (or pastor)."
M.R. DEHAAN says in his book, DEAR DOCTOR, I HAVE A PROBLEM, page 109);
"If a man is saved after making the mistake, and sees and confesses his fault, I would be the last one to put up a hindrance to his ministry."
H.A. IRONSIDE says in his book WHAT IS THE ANSWER? (Question 36);
Is it permissible for a man who has been twice married, the first wife having been divorced because of immorality....to hold the office of a deacon (or pastor)?" Answer: "....in the case such as you mention, the first wife has been divorced both legally and scripturally, ....the man is qualified for the office of a deacon if the life is otherwise right."
Some of the most faithful men I have known have been divorced....
Some of the best men in my church over the years of my ministry have been men who have been through divorce and remarriage, and sadly, some of the biggest trouble-makers and hindrances to my ministry have been men who have been married for20, 30, or 40 years to the same woman!
The Church of Jesus Christ, of all places, ought to be a place of forgiveness and restoration, and many poor divorced folks find no second chance at their church! I believe many good folk are not being allowed to serve the Lord Jesus Christ in many churches just because some folks have not correctly interpreted this passage in 1 Timothy!
Think about it.....
Considering all these things, if one believes the divorced person should be prohibited further service, is it not reasonable to suggest that he reexamine his thinking, and carefully consider the possibility that he has misunderstood what the Bible really says?