Divorced Deacons?

Discussion in '2000-02 Archive' started by Reklaw, Oct 13, 2001.

  1. Reklaw

    Reklaw
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    Should divorced men be allowed to be deacons? The obvious answer may be no according to scripture, but some interpret it differently. I've heard of some that claim the verses that say "husband of one wife" meaning one wife at a time (that is to say, non-polygomy). Feedback?
     
  2. Jeff Weaver

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    From a Primitive Baptist point of view, it would largely depend on why the candidate for deacon were divorced. And who was the offending party to cause the marriage to break up. It don't think there is a blanket yes or no answer to the question, but each candidtate should be judged on his qualifications, and if there is some difficulty there, why that difficulty exists. Hopefully making sense.

    Jeff
     
  3. DocCas

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    Our church as a blanket policy of "no." That saves a lot of time. [​IMG]
     
  4. Pastor Larry

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    In terms of exegesis, I believe that the phrase translated husband of one wife means a one woman man -- a man characterized by fidelity and faithfulness. Strictly speaking, a divorced person could qualify but may not. Many churches do have a no divorce policy which is fine and as Thomas says, certainly saves a lot of time. The other side of it is that you could rob yourselves of some very wise, godly men with such a policy. I think a deacon or a pastor theoretically could be divorced but in most cases will not be. It would be the exception rather than the rule.
     
  5. John Wells

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    While I certainly would not judge a church or pastor's stricter view on this subject, such as Dr. Cassidy's, I believe the context in which Paul gave this rule was to eliminate men with multiple wives, which was still largely accepted in the cultures where he was starting churches.

    I think that a man who got a divorce for whatever reason before coming to Christ, and a saved man who conforms to "acceptable reasons" (infidelity or a non-believer who leaves and remarries) should be eligible if he is in all other aspects of his walk an ideal deacon candidate.

    This view aligns with the concept of God's forgiveness of sins, remembering them no more. I see no scriptural support to conclude otherwise.
     
  6. Dr. Bob

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    The concept of a pastor or a deacon being "above reproach" should be the primary place to start. Evaluating sin or possible sin (divorce being just one issue) would ensue.

    As to that text, I do not believe it is saying ANYTHING about divorce. But every ifb church I have pastored has had it in the constitution that no man divorced or married to a woman who had been divorced could be pastor or deacon.
     
  7. John Wells

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    Personally, I'm glad God is more forgiving than a lot of churches/pastors. Otherwise, Saul would have been disqualified to become an Apostle! :eek:
     
  8. Jonathan

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    <BLOCKQUOTE>quote:</font><HR>Originally posted by John Wells:
    Personally, I'm glad God is more forgiving than a lot of churches/pastors. Otherwise, Saul would have been disqualified to become an Apostle! :eek:<HR></BLOCKQUOTE>

    To be accurate, the "qualifications" for Apostle did not include any reference to marriage.
     
  9. Ernie Brazee

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    Herein lies the problem "I think" and "I believe"

    Doesn't matter one whit what I think or believe. What matters is "thus sayeth the Lord" amd yes with prayer and Bible sutdy the Hole Spirit will lead us to the truth.

    Ernie
     
  10. Jonathan

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    <BLOCKQUOTE>quote:</font><HR>Originally posted by Reklaw:
    Should divorced men be allowed to be deacons? The obvious answer may be no according to scripture, but some interpret it differently. I've heard of some that claim the verses that say "husband of one wife" meaning one wife at a time (that is to say, non-polygomy). Feedback?<HR></BLOCKQUOTE>

    1. There is the Scriptural teachings on divorce and the place of deacons and pastors with regard to their wives and families. Taken together (and with the fact that bigamy was not an issue among Paul's Gentile audience rendering arguments that the "husband of one wife" concern poligamy off point), one must do an incredible song and dance with the pertinent texts to allow for divorce among church leadership.

    2. However, my experience informs me (always a dangerous endeavor) that the conflict over this issue has more to do with a man's ambition than with his desire to measure up to God's Word. Consider the question: "Should divorced men be allowed to be deacons?"

    We are talking about a servant "position" are we not? Divorced folks can serve God in many ways in church life without having to occupy an "office" where their past conduct might be cause for others to stumble.

    I submit that any who desires to serve will serve and will do so willingly without the desire for an official title in a church.

    I also submit that the divorced men who chafe at the teachings against their being qualified for "ordained" service are likely not the right men for the job for a number of other reasons.
     
  11. Jonathan

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    <BLOCKQUOTE>quote:</font><HR>Originally posted by Pastor Larry:
    In terms of exegesis, I believe that the phrase translated husband of one wife means a one woman man -- a man characterized by fidelity and faithfulness. Strictly speaking, a divorced person could qualify but may not. Many churches do have a no divorce policy which is fine and as Thomas says, certainly saves a lot of time. The other side of it is that you could rob yourselves of some very wise, godly men with such a policy.<HR></BLOCKQUOTE>

    Why would this be the case? If a man is truly wise and godly, the lack of being ordained will not stop him from being a servant within the body.

    <BLOCKQUOTE>quote:</font><HR> I think a deacon or a pastor theoretically could be divorced but in most cases will not be. It would be the exception rather than the rule.<HR></BLOCKQUOTE>
     
  12. Jonathan

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    <BLOCKQUOTE>quote:</font><HR>Originally posted by John Wells:
    While I certainly would not judge a church or pastor's stricter view on this subject, such as Dr. Cassidy's, I believe the context in which Paul gave this rule was to eliminate men with multiple wives, which was still largely accepted in the cultures where he was starting churches.<HR></BLOCKQUOTE>

    What is your reference for suggesting that poligamy was either widely practiced or largely accepted in the cultures surrounding the churches Paul was writing to?

    <BLOCKQUOTE>quote:</font><HR>I think that a man who got a divorce for whatever reason before coming to Christ, and a saved man who conforms to "acceptable reasons" (infidelity or a non-believer who leaves and remarries) should be eligible if he is in all other aspects of his walk an ideal deacon candidate.

    This view aligns with the concept of God's forgiveness of sins, remembering them no more. I see no scriptural support to conclude otherwise.
    <HR></BLOCKQUOTE>
     
  13. Pastor Larry

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    Jonathan (and Ernie),

    The point to consider is "What does the text say?"

    The text says mias gunaikos andres. It means "one woman man." The translation "husband of one wife" is an interpretation of the phrase. I would be curious as to how far back that translation goes. Perhaps Thomas could answer on that one.

    The qualification for deacons and pastors is blamelessness. It is possible to be divorced and blameless. It might be hard but it is possible. That is all my point is.

    I reject the "polygamy" explanation because polygamy was already outlawed in the Roman culture and therefore would have been forbidden the "subject yourselves to every authority" teaching.
     
  14. Raulf7

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    The same type of question could be applied to Pastors:

    Should a Pastor be a Pastor because at some point in his life he has committed sins?

    Get real people we are all sinners!

    We all make mistakes and if we are going to start excluding sinners from certain things our Churches will be empty.

    How do you know the circumstances of someones divorce and is it really anyones business anyway? Noooooo

    People repent and are forgiven by God, dont you think you ought to forgive them too?

    Permanently holding someone to account over some type of sin is not forgiving nor Christ like.
     
  15. John Wells

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    Jonathan said, "To be accurate, the "qualifications" for Apostle did not include any reference to marriage."

    You seem to have missed my shift in emphasis to "sins" in general. I'm quite aware of the differences in qualifications.

    Your other arguments would be fine IF scripture supported them, which is the whole point here. Pastor Larry has the best handle on this, so you might want to refute his "one man woman" backed by scriptural/Greek interpretation support. Otherwise you're merely rendering your opinion.

    Where did "ambition" come in? That's a diversion tactic. We're talking about a church or more specifically, a deacon selection committee's choices to select the best person for administering the "servant position" of deacon. If they hold to the "never divorced" interpretation of the debated scripture, then they hipocritically single out one sin, in essence saying that one cannot be forgiven. Why should that repented sin stand in his way and a host of other forgiven sins not? Larry's reasoning makes sense; your's makes none! Doing so only hurts themselves as they may prohibit excellent would be deacons from serving in that position.

    Raulf7,

    I agree with you!
     
  16. Jonathan

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    <BLOCKQUOTE>quote:</font><HR>Originally posted by John Wells:
    Jonathan said, "To be accurate, the "qualifications" for Apostle did not include any reference to marriage."

    You seem to have missed my shift in emphasis to "sins" in general. I'm quite aware of the differences in qualifications.<HR></BLOCKQUOTE>


    The issue is not "sin" but qualifications. There are marriage related qualifications with regard to Bishop/Elder and Deacons but not with regard to Apostles.

    <BLOCKQUOTE>quote:</font><HR>Your other arguments would be fine IF scripture supported them, which is the whole point here. Pastor Larry has the best handle on this, so you might want to refute his "one man woman" backed by scriptural/Greek interpretation support. Otherwise you're merely rendering your opinion.<HR></BLOCKQUOTE>

    You want Scriptural proof? Sure. Here's the short version:

    1. God hates divorce (Malachi 2:16)
    2. It is God who joins a man and woman in marriage and it is only God who is authorized to end the marriage. Man commanded not to end the marriage. (Matthew 19:4-6)
    3. While God hates divorce, He allows the sin to occur because the heart of man had become hardened (Matthew 19:8)
    4a. All qualifications for Bishop/Elder are to be seen in view of "must be above reproach" (1 Timothy 3:2).
    4b. The qualification to be "husband of one wife" can, then, have four possible understandings:
    4c. (1)The disqualification of single men as Bishop/Elder. This would run contrary to Paul's honoring singleness which gives testimony to the fact that singleness is not something that would place the man in reproach.
    4d. (2)The disqualification of widowed men. This would run contrary to Jesus' comments about only God having the authority to begin (and end by inference) the marriage. In His providence, God ends a marriage by death, upon which event, the surviving spouse is no longer considered, by God, to be in a marriage covenant.
    4e. (3)The disqualification of men married to more than one woman at a time (polygamy). There is no credible historical evidence that shows that polygamy was a part of the Greek or Roman societies at the time of Paul's writings. Since he was addressing Gentiles, why would he addressed polygamy when it was not a problem in the specific Gentile culture?
    4f. (4)The divorced man. Note from #1,2,3 above, that divorce would place the divorced man in the position of not being able to "above reproach". His reputation is permanently stained by this action (whether or not he initiated the divorce...there are few, if any, innocent parties to divorce).
    5. The remainding qualifications for bishop/elder (1 Timothy 3:2-7) are all issues that characterize a man who is unfit for the office. However, with the exception of divorce, all of them can ceasee to be part of a charactization of a man in the community. For example, a man can, over time, move from being a man characterized as having a violent, uncontrolled temper to a man characterized as temperant. But a divorced man will always be a divorced man.
    6. Deacons are to be held to the same stand of being men above reproach (1 Timothy 3:8 ref "likewise").

    <BLOCKQUOTE>quote:</font><HR>Where did "ambition" come in? That's a diversion tactic. We're talking about a church or more specifically, a deacon selection committee's choices to select the best person for administering the "servant position" of deacon.<HR></BLOCKQUOTE>

    Surely you do not deny that there are, within our midst, many men who desire to be a deacon for the prestige that it carries. Further, nothing stops a man from serving in his church in any number of ways that do not require "ordination" ("ordination"...now there is a practice in search of a theology!).

    <BLOCKQUOTE>quote:</font><HR> If they hold to the "never divorced" interpretation of the debated scripture, then they hipocritically single out one sin, in essence saying that one cannot be forgiven.<HR></BLOCKQUOTE>

    The issue is not the forgiveness of sin, the issue is the earthly consequences of sin. Divorce is a sin and it can be forgiven. However, there are earthly consequences for divorce and one of them is that the divorced man is disqualified from the offices of biship, elder, and deacon.

    There are other examples that show this principle as well. Take the individual who is arrested, is guilty, and is convicted of child molestation. He serves his time, truly repents of his sin, and is restored to the body. He will be welcomed back into the church as a fellow in Christ but he will never again be seen fit for work in the childrens ministry or to be lefts alone with any children in a church setting. If this is the case, is his sin not forgiven? Sure it is forgiven but the earthly consequences remain intact.

    <BLOCKQUOTE>quote:</font><HR> Why should that repented sin stand in his way and a host of other forgiven sins not?<HR></BLOCKQUOTE>

    The issue of the forgiveness of sin goes to to issues of soteriology not issues of church office. That the man is no longer qualified for an office due to divorce does not mean that he cannot be nor had been forgiven of the eternal consequences of sin.

    <BLOCKQUOTE>quote:</font><HR> Larry's reasoning makes sense; your's makes none!<HR></BLOCKQUOTE>

    I have now given your a brief Scriptural support of my position. I look forward to your interaction with it.

    <BLOCKQUOTE>quote:</font><HR> Doing so only hurts themselves as they may prohibit excellent would be deacons from serving in that position.<HR></BLOCKQUOTE>

    Again, the lack of qualification for a church office is in no way a prohibitor of an excellent man (or woman) from serving God through the ministries of a local church.
     
  17. Charlie the Chosen

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    I am a deacon in a SBC and no divorced man can serve as deacon or pastor. Sometimes we have to take God's word literal. It means just what it says. That would be like saying a woman could be deacon or pastor! God forbid! Man's logic and reasoning totally cloud the truth sometimes. It would be better to uphold this truth than to waver for man's sake.
     
  18. Pastor Larry

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    Several points:

    1. You have not yet demonstrated that mias gunaikas andres means “husband of one wife.” You have provided no argumentation for it. I will agree that it is a possible translation but it is not the only one.

    2. You comments on divorce are partially right. God does hate divorce. (There is significant study ongoing that Mal 2:15 does not say that. I tend to disagree with the study but it is out there and has solid evidence for it. The traditional rendering of the Hebrew depends either on a textual variant or on abnormal Hebrew – I can’t remember which. I will have to look up the name of the book that defends this. Someone else may know.) God intended marriage to be one man and one woman for life. However to say that only God can end a marriage is directly contradicted by your next statement that he permits divorce. A marriage can end by divorce and while it is never God’s best or God’s intention, it is permitted and it does end the marriage. Therefore, someone other than God can end a marriage.

    3. All qualifications must be seen in light of “blameless.” However, your point 4f is a non sequiter to one, two, and three. You have stated three points and then says the fourth must be it. You have not reached there by argumentation but by ex cathedra pronouncement.

    All the qualifications listed refer to the current state of a man’s life. You yourself state that a man can lose his temper and get control of it and still be blameless. It is inconsistent to say that all the other qualifications refer to the current state while the “mias gunaikas andres” refers to his whole life. That is inconsistent with the text. You are reading into what it says. A man who is innocent in a divorce can well be considered blameless. He may not be; but he can be. A man who is at fault in a divorce can be considered blameless in some circumstances. He is not permanently stained necessarily though he might be.

    My point is not to condone or suggest divorced men be elected to deaconship or pastorate. My point is to say that the text does not necessarily preclude it on that basis.

    As for Charlie, I think we should take God's word for what it says and assume it be literal. However, what we are discussing is what it says and what it means. It is no way related to a woman being a pastor because no matter what mias gunaikas andres means, it cannot refer to a woman.
     
  19. John Wells

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    Looks like Pastor Larry beat me to the punch. In my own words I would come very close to agreeing with what he has said. To be original, your logic in 4c. (1) is quite inconsistent. In essence you conclude that “husband of one wife” can mean zero wives, but not one wife at two different times, but never two at the same time. Actually, disqualifying the “never married” makes more sense than the divorced man because in the deacon’s role of ministering to families, the single man cannot draw from experience to meet their varying needs. From Acts 6:5, we have the first deacons: “They chose Stephen, a man full of faith and of the Holy Spirit; also Philip, Procorus, Nicanor, Timon, Parmenas, and Nicolas from Antioch, a convert to Judaism.” We have no way of knowing whether or not these men were all married.

    Jonathan said, “Surely you do not deny that there are, within our midst, many men who desire to be a deacon for the prestige that it carries.”

    Are you suggesting that “married one time” men do not sometimes harbor the same desire? What is your point? Of course covetousness is an issue in the church, but it has nothing to do with whether “husband of one wife” means “married once” or a “one woman man.” At my former church there was a never divorced man who theatened to leave the church if they did not make him a deacon.

    Actually I think Paul’s point makes more sense to mean a man who only has eyes for one woman (if he is married) which falls under Pastor Larry’s interpretation, which happens to fit nicely with your “above reproach” requirement. A once married deacon (and I have seen them) who is gawking at all the ladies in the church brings discredit to himself (his salvation) and his office (deacon).

    At any rate, there are churches that favor your position and mine. If a spiritually qualified divorced man feels strongly the calling of God to serve as a deacon, he might just have to leave a church that doesn’t allow it and go to one that does. Whose loss is that?

    [ October 15, 2001: Message edited by: John Wells ]
     
  20. DocCas

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    The Greek phrase "mias gunaikos andra" seems to be in question here.

    The Greek word "andra" (from aner) is the common word used in the New Testament Greek for "husband." This can be seen by looking at the following verses:

    Matthew 1:16, Matthew 1:19, Mark 10:12, Luke 2:36, Luke 16:18, John 4:16, John 4:17, John 4:18, Acts 5:9, Acts 5:10, Romans 7:2, Romans 7:3, 1 Corinthians 7:2, 1 Corinthians 7:3, 1 Corinthians 7:4, 1 Corinthians 7:10, 1 Corinthians 7:11, 1 Corinthians 7:13, 1 Corinthians 7:14, 1 Corinthians 7:16, 1 Corinthians 7:34, 1 Corinthians 7:39, 2 Corinthians 11:2, Galatians 4:27, Ephesians 5:23, Ephesians 5:33, 1 Timothy 3:2, Titus 1:6, and Revelation 21:2.

    If God wanted us to understand this word means "husband" or "husband of one wife" and not "man" or "one woman kind of man" what other word could He have used? He has consistantly used the word to mean husband throughout the NT.

    The same can be said for "gunaikos" and "mias." Why not just accept the commonly used meaning of the words as they are used throughout the rest of the NT and read the verse to say "husband of one wife." That phrase is both inclusive and exclusive. One, and only one, wife. Seems simple to me.

    [ October 15, 2001: Message edited by: Thomas Cassidy ]
     

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