Inconsistent on Qualifications

Discussion in 'Baptist Theology & Bible Study' started by PastorSBC1303, Feb 27, 2006.

  1. PastorSBC1303

    PastorSBC1303
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    I was recently talking to a person who shared with me why a man we knew was not qualified for pastoral ministry because he was divorced several years before becoming a believer.

    That got me to thinking about how we apply the qualifications in 1 Timothy 3.

    I have heard numerous accounts of men who were drunks, cheaters, liars, etc before salvation and after God saves them He calls them into ministry and they are faithful servants for the remainder of their lives. Yet if the same men were divorced before salvation many would consider them disqualified.

    My question is why is there an inconsistency there? If we hold up divorce (which is not even mentioned in the text) in such a manner, why do we not hold up all of the qualifications in the same way? Why is a man that was a drunk before salvation qualified, but a man who was divorced before salvation disqualified?
     
  2. standingfirminChrist

    standingfirminChrist
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    My church lets me preach behind the pulpit, but when they were searching for a pastor would not consider me because of my previous divorce.

    You have raised a good question, SBC.

    I have preached on the radio years ago in Greensboro, NC and been invited to churches. When told to bring my wife along, I would not tell them I was divorced, but I would tell them I was not married.

    Upon hearing that I was not married, some would tell me I could visit, but I would not be able to preach because they want men behind their pulpits who are married.

    My question... Would Jesus be welcome to preach in those churches? He was never married, other than spiritually.

    I think the reasoning behind the divorced thing is the scripture that says if a man cannot rule his own house, how can he rule the house of God?

    But, my view is this... IF a man divorced before salvation, and after salvation the old is passed away, that man should be allowed to pastor a church.
     
  3. Brother James

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    I believe you have the correct position on the matter brother and are supported by the Scripture.
     
  4. Hope of Glory

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    Also, I think that some of reasoning behind wanting a pastor to be married is to reduce the chance of rumors and illicit affairs if there is a husband and wife both present during counselling. (Among other things.)
     
  5. Scott J

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    That is well and good... but the question is "What does the Bible literally say, what does it mean, and how does it apply?"

    Not only does the text not disqualify someone divorced prior to becoming a believer... it doesn't disqualify someone who was divorced afterwards.

    The literal translation is "one woman man". How many people can claim to have obeyed the strictest interpretation of this qualification? An adulterer can be the "husband of one wife" but not a "one woman man". Someone who engaged in pre-marital sex also... or someone who lusted after a woman he wasn't married to....

    The rest of the qualifications are character traits and behaviors rather than prohibitions of single occurrences. I believe this requirement is likewise pointing to certain kind of character and attitude a man should have toward marriage and women.
     
  6. Dr. Bob

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    Sucking "divorce" from the "one-woman man" phrase is horrendous eisogesis of God's Word. It is NOT talking of divorce of the elder.

    But the real issue is the first qualification - above reproach. If a person was a murderer, drunk, liar etc before salvation, it would take many many years before I would trust them to be an elder.

    BTW, getting married doesn't solve the problem of infidelity or immoral conduct. It often masks it so that WE feel comfortable. But look at the catholic priest/nun scandals and we know that celibacy is not the answer, either!!
     
  7. Scott J

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    BTW, if it is the judgment of a particular church that a divorced man can never satisfactorily demonstrate the right attitude toward women or marriage... or at least can't be fully trusted to do so then it is the prerogative of that church to disallow divorce... though I think they do so without biblical warrant. Such a decision puts them in a position to play God over whether He can call a man into ministry who is not biblically disqualified but doesn't meet the biased requirements of "conservatives".
     
  8. standingfirminChrist

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    this is so true, Dr Bob.

    In the divorce aspect of the passage, I also look at the verse in this light. The geographical location where 1 Timothy was addressed was an area that believed in polygamy. Hence the 'husband of one wife'.

    A man that has a wife wants to see to whatever needs the wife may have and to please his wife. For a Bishop to have more than one wife would greatly decrease his time needed to study God's Word and to tend to the flock. This passage is not about divorce at all.
     
  9. rlvaughn

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    PastorSBC, I fear that this thread will quickly degenerate into another debate on whether it is right or wrong for a pastor to be divorced. But before it gets too far down that road, I want to address your inconsistency question. The inconsistency part, IMO, depends on point of view. The reasoning may often have more to do with remarriage than divorce. Many who believe a pastor should not/cannot be divorced also believe that the problem is not just "in the past". IOW, if remarriage after divorce is a case of committing adultery, unlike some other sins that were put away after salvation, this one is looked on as continuing, and therefore disqualifying. Regardless of whether one agrees with that, it addresses why some folks do not see it as inconsistent with forgetting some other sins that were in the past -- e.g. drunkenness, cheating, lying.

    The view of inconsistency often comes from us applying our beliefs onto someone else's position.
     
  10. Craigbythesea

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    The Ante-Nicene Church viewed divorce, regardless of the circumstances, as sin, and the first divorce officially recognized by the church did not occur until the 5th century. Divorce is very different from any other sin because it opens very wide the door for a lifetime of adulterous behavior since once a man or woman is married, regardless of their being saved or not, they are view by God as being married as long as both of them are still alive. Therefore, if a divorced man or woman remarries, they are committing adultery every time they engage in the marital act.

    Paul, therefore, most certainly would not have allowed a divorced man to serve as the pastor of a Church, and only in recent times would such a thing be considered for even the briefest moment. Today, however, we find homosexuals, divorced and remarried persons, and others living in the most sinful imaginable state behind the pulpit.

    However, if a man was divorced before he became a Christian, and has solemnly vowed before God and the church that he will not remarry, and fully intends to keep that vow, he may, in my opinion be allowed to pastor that congregation. Should he, however, begin courting a woman and make known thereby his intention to begin a life of adultery with a second wife, he should be immediately removed from his position as pastor

    Should, however, the divorced wife be deceased, the man is free to remarry, and in my opinion, should be allowed to pastor a church if he meets every Biblical requirement.

    [​IMG]
     
  11. PastorSBC1303

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    What if the man was divorced and remarried both before salvation?
     
  12. Craigbythesea

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    According to the Bible, in several New Testament passages, he is committing adultery every time he engages in the marital act.

    [​IMG]
     
  13. Andy T.

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    According to the Bible, in several New Testament passages, he is committing adultery every time he engages in the marital act.

    [​IMG]
    </font>[/QUOTE]O.k., then how does someone unwind that sin? Is he supposed to divorce his 2nd wife and seek reconciliation of his 1st? How does one ever fix it?
     
  14. Scott J

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    You can't make definitive statements based on anecdotal evidence. For much of the first 4 centuries of Christianity the local assemblies that made up the church were greatly autonomous and independent. To say the "church" recognized or didn't recognize divorce during that period is to assume a "catholic" church that isn't historically supported.

    IOW's, the writings of prominent men have been preserved but that in no way means taht a) their writings have been preserved without RCC modifications and b) that their views were pervasive or even majority.

    I would however be interested in citations you have from very early church fathers... say pre-250 AD.
    That is an opinion not stated in scripture. Please cite a specific scripture that says that God considers divorced people, no matter the reason, married.

    Jesus certainly could have not made an exception for fornication... but he did. Paul certainly didn't have to write in the abandonment exception... but he did.

    Divorce by definition ends a marriage. That is the recognized understanding of the word. The OT sets up an allowance for divorce that by Christ's time was being abused... due to the hardness of hearts.
    The "therefore" is there for reasons of your own invention. Cite your scripture.

    And presumably those who don't believe in the literal accuracy of the scriptural record... even when that literal understanding is assumed throughout the whole text of scripture.

    There are those of us who believe that adopting a philosophy that preempts God's Word on any subject to fit squarely in that "most sinful imaginable state"... See how easy that game is to play?

    We are consistent though it appears. I am still arguing for what God literally said through scripture and you are arguing for a broader interpretation... though surprisingly, this time you are more "conservative".
     
  15. Craigbythesea

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    According to the Bible, in several New Testament passages, he is committing adultery every time he engages in the marital act.

    [​IMG]
    </font>[/QUOTE]O.k., then how does someone unwind that sin? Is he supposed to divorce his 2nd wife and seek reconciliation of his 1st? How does one ever fix it?
    </font>[/QUOTE]How does one unwind the sin of murder or any other sin the consequences of which are irreversible? The obvious answer is that it cannot be unwound—the damage is done and it is irreversible. All that one can do is truly repent, cease from the adulterous act, and most earnestly pray for God to minimize the damage as much as possible.

    [​IMG]
     
  16. Craigbythesea

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    You can't make definitive statements based on anecdotal evidence. For much of the first 4 centuries of Christianity the local assemblies that made up the church were greatly autonomous and independent. To say the "church" recognized or didn't recognize divorce during that period is to assume a "catholic" church that isn't historically supported.

    IOW's, the writings of prominent men have been preserved but that in no way means taht a) their writings have been preserved without RCC modifications and b) that their views were pervasive or even majority.

    I would however be interested in citations you have from very early church fathers... say pre-250 AD.
    That is an opinion not stated in scripture. Please cite a specific scripture that says that God considers divorced people, no matter the reason, married.

    Jesus certainly could have not made an exception for fornication... but he did. Paul certainly didn't have to write in the abandonment exception... but he did.

    Divorce by definition ends a marriage. That is the recognized understanding of the word. The OT sets up an allowance for divorce that by Christ's time was being abused... due to the hardness of hearts.
    The "therefore" is there for reasons of your own invention. Cite your scripture.

    And presumably those who don't believe in the literal accuracy of the scriptural record... even when that literal understanding is assumed throughout the whole text of scripture.

    There are those of us who believe that adopting a philosophy that preempts God's Word on any subject to fit squarely in that "most sinful imaginable state"... See how easy that game is to play?

    We are consistent though it appears. I am still arguing for what God literally said through scripture and you are arguing for a broader interpretation... though surprisingly, this time you are more "conservative".
    </font>[/QUOTE]I have, in past threads, addressed all of these issues in detail and I do not have the time to address them all again. And, of course, there is no shortage of books and other writings on marriage and divorce that address these issues in detail. There are, however, two issues that I have previously addressed but which are so important to this discussion that I shall address them again in this post.

    Scott J wrote,

    Matt. 19:9. "And I say to you, whoever divorces his wife, except for immorality, and marries another woman commits adultery."

    The phrase “except for immorality” was apparently unknown to the early church, and many scholars believe that this phrase is either an intentional redaction or a scribal gloss from Matt. 5:32 where the context is quite different. And, of course, this phrase contradicts the very clear teaching of our Savior in Mark 10:11-12 and Luke 16:18, and Paul in 1 Cor. 7:10. Notice the reaction of Jesus’ disciples to His teaching in Matt. 19:9,

    Matt. 19:10. The disciples *said to Him, "If the relationship of the man with his wife is like this, it is better not to marry."
    11. But He said to them, "Not all men {can} accept this statement, but {only} those to whom it has been given.

    Had Jesus actually allowed an exception to his teaching on marriage and divorce like the Mosaic Law had done, the disciples would most certainly not have had this reaction. Quite clearly what they heard Jesus teach them here did not include an exception clause, and Mark 10:11-12, Luke 16:18, and 1 Cor. 7:10 all agree with this.


    1 Cor. 7:10. But to the married I give instructions, not I, but the Lord, that the wife should not leave her husband
    11. (but if she does leave, she must remain unmarried, or else be reconciled to her husband), and that the husband should not divorce his wife.
    12. But to the rest I say, not the Lord, that if any brother has a wife who is an unbeliever, and she consents to live with him, he must not divorce her.
    13. And a woman who has an unbelieving husband, and he consents to live with her, she must not send her husband away.
    14. For the unbelieving husband is sanctified through his wife, and the unbelieving wife is sanctified through her believing husband; for otherwise your children are unclean, but now they are holy.
    15. Yet if the unbelieving one leaves, let him leave; the brother or the sister is not under bondage in such {cases,} but God has called us to peace.
    16. For how do you know, O wife, whether you will save your husband? Or how do you know, O husband, whether you will save your wife?
    17. Only, as the Lord has assigned to each one, as God has called each, in this manner let him walk. And so I direct in all the churches.

    All that Paul allows in this passage is for the Christian to allow their non-Christian spouse to leave is they so desire. There is no divorce permitted here, and most certainly there is no possibility of re-marriage on the part of the Christian for the Christian is still married regardless of the fact that the spouse has moved out. And, of course, the spouse who moved out is also still married and will remain married until death dissolves the union.

    [​IMG]
     
  17. Andy T.

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    How does one "cease from the adulterous act"? - Are they supposed to divorce their 2nd wife?
     
  18. exscentric

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    It could easily be suggested to unwind the continuing sin is to stop sinning. Separation would be one method, divorce, though sin, would be a one time sin to end continuing sin.
     
  19. PastorMark

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    According to everything I have read, Timothy was unmarried when Paul wrote the letter of 1 Timothy to him. What does this tell us about the intent of the scripture in question?

    Pastor Mark.
     
  20. Brother James

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    According to Craigs strained interpretation he should put a pistol in his mouth.
     

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