Tuesday, May 8, 2012

Divorce & Remarriage Revisited

I was happy to get a response to my last blog on divorce and remarriage. Every blog is better with interaction from the readers. (Please consider commenting.) Here is a slightly edited version of the response I received.
I was wondering...you only sort of glanced off it in Four...but aren't you going to make a clearer stand against divorce in leadership? Is it just Pastors or deacons too?? Why don't all your other reasoning apply to them. What if those things happened in their lives before they were Christians or called to ministry? AND...I still, after reading all this, have trouble pulling out rebuttals to the nastiness of those who disagree with this view. The issue that I've had trouble discussing recently is...that people who were divorced before salvation are okayed (accepted)... while those who divorce and remarry afterwards aren't.And what about where one partner has been divorced and the other hasn't?I guess...this is really academic....and I'm having trouble making it practical to my real life situations.
My seven blogs on divorce and remarriage were written in response to requests for a thorough treatment of the Bible's teaching for people who have been divorced and now want to know what they should do about remarriage. I hope that those blogs gave them some practical help.

But what about divorce in the lives of church leadership - pastors and deacons?

On the one hand, everything we looked at before DOES apply to people who are in church leadership. They should not be getting divorced. In the case of sexual immorality they have a biblical ground for divorce and a freedom to remarry after that divorce. But they certainly should not be using divorce as a cloak for adultery.

That said, if a man finds himself divorced he is disqualified from service as a pastor or deacon.

This is not because divorce is a sin. (In some situations it is not a sin, and sins are forgiven in Christ.) It doesn't matter if it happened before someone was saved or after they were saved. (Christ saves us from all of our sins.) It doesn't matter if the person is remarried or not.

The disqualification from these ministries is because of the high biblical requirements:

(1 Timothy 3:2) A bishop then must be blameless, the husband of one wife,
(1 Timothy 3:4–5) ...one who rules his own house well, having his children in submission with all reverence (for if a man does not know how to rule his own house, how will he take care of the church of God?);
(1 Timothy 3:7) Moreover he must have a good testimony among those who are outside, lest he fall into reproach and the snare of the devil.
(1 Timothy 3:11–12) Likewise, their wives must be reverent, not slanderers, temperate, faithful in all things.  Let deacons be the husbands of one wife, ruling their children and their own houses well. 

Some argue that "the husband of one wife" does not refer to divorce - although divorce was very common in the Roman world while polygamy was very rare. 

But even setting that aside, it is clear that the pastors and deacons were supposed to be role models in family leadership. This would definitely be ruined by unfaithfulness on his part, but it could be spoiled by things that were not necessarily his fault.  His ability to be a role model is spoiled by having children who are incorrigible. It is spoiled by having a rebellious or unfaithful wife. It is spoiled by divorce. Even where someone could prove beyond a doubt that the divorce was not his fault, the divorce still destroys his ability to be the role model in family leadership that is required in the Bible.

I think this tends to offend the American sense of "fair play." If it is not his fault, why should he be disqualified? An airline pilot might suffer the loss of his sight or hearing through no fault of his own. Even though it is not his fault and even though he might be a talented and experienced pilot, he is now disqualified. In the case of pastors and deacons:
  • We don't set these qualifications - God does.
  • These things matter in the ministries of pastors and deacons who are examples to the flock and who must often minister to families in crisis.
  • It is not as if the divorced person cannot serve the church in many other important ways.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

Thank you for your study and sharing on this prevalent and emotional occurrence. Have you included 1 Cor. 7 in your study? I would be interested in your exegesis of that portion of Scripture in the future.