“If any be blameless, the husband of one wife, having faithful children not accused of riot or unruly.” – Titus 1:6, KJV (added emphasis mine)
“A bishop then must be blameless, the husband of one wife, vigilant, sober, of good behaviour, given to hospitality, apt to teach….” -I Timothy 3:2, KJV (added emphasis mine)
“An elder must be blameless, faithful to his wife, a man whose children believe and are not open to the charge of being wild and disobedient.” – Titus 1:6, NIV (added emphasis mine)
Some denominations may still hold the draconian view that a pastor who is divorced (and remarried) can never be a pastor again. Obviously, this is a Protestant issue both as Catholic priests are generally not allowed to marry and the priesthood is an indelible sacrament that does not go away based on bad behavior on the priest’s part. So, I am talking mostly about how Protestant, evangelicals sometimes approach situations where pastors divorce their adulterous spouses and remarry.
Of course, where I stand on this issue is clear: I am divorced and remarried still working in the ministry as an ordained minister. The interpretation of “the husband of one wife” that precludes such circumstances is clearly not one I hold.
Personally, I prefer the NIV translation of these two verses. I have provided one of the NIV translations above that cuts to the point.
The issue is fidelity and honoring the marriage union.
It would be very odd for Paul to instruct Titus to accept a pastor who did not honor the marriage bed yet was supposedly representing God who judges such defilers (see Hebrews 13:4).
Once again, the issue is not divorce (which neither the author of Titus or I Timothy names as disqualifying, by the way). It is fidelity. The authors close off the option of polygamy for elders/leaders of Christ’s Church. I think this was done in response to Christ’s clear teaching that marriage was intended to be monogamous referencing Adam and Eve in Eden (e.g. Mt 19:4-6).
Under such light, it is rather astounding the lengths to which anti-divorce and anti-remarriage prejudice is defended in church leadership. Verses intended to close off polygamy and infidelity are turned on the victims of infidelity to brand as “disqualified” thereby stripping them of office.
This is truly sick.
And Titus 1:6 verse begs the question to me:
Where are the defrocking trials of pastors whose kids went wild?
It is on the same level of disqualification as the “husband of one wife” charge. Yet I am unaware of any denominational stance that has a special trial for pastors whose children disavow Christianity and go off to live wild lives (To be clear: my point in this is not to say we ought to create such a process or trial but to showcase the inconsistency here).
Rejecting divorced pastors is not about being Biblical.
If it was, then we would see pastors being defrocked over wayward, wild children as well.
Next time someone suggests no divorced (and remarried) pastor ought to be a minister remind them that God’s intentions is to honor the faithful. Just because someone is divorced does not mean he or she was unfaithful in his or her marriage. In fact, it might mean quite the opposite–i.e. they demanded faithfulness in the marriage or no marriage at all as God did (see Jer. 3:8). Personally, I think holding such a strong stance against infidelity in one’s marriage as a pastor is more faithful to Titus 1:6 and I Timothy 3:2 than a pastor who allows his or her spouse to continue to commit adultery without repenting.
Fidelity and honoring the marriage is the point.
Let’s not lose sight of that.