Is a biblically divorced and remarried man qualified to be a pastor?

Discussion in 'Church Office' started by Osage Bluestem, May 10, 2011.

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  1. Osage Bluestem

    Osage Bluestem Puritan Board Junior

    I'm trying to discern if I am called into the ministry or not. However, my biggest problem is that I am divorced and remarried. My ex wife left me for another man then divorced me. I got remarried later on.

    What do you think about this situation? Is this a red flag that says "no you can't be called into the ministry" or what?

    Here is what I wrote about the situation. It seems to me like I'm probably disqualified because of that. What if it causes scandal..etc

    Is a biblically divorced and remarried man qualified for the pastorate? « Osage Bluestem

    However there seems to be a need and I really would love nothing more than to be a minister. I don't know. I haven't talked to my pastor about this yet. However I did speak with my cousin who is a SBC pastor/theologian PHD. He said that he wouldn't hire me because where he is at in the southeast it would cause scandal, however he said that out west there is a great need for pastors and teachers and being divorced and remarried wouldn't cause scandal there. However, he stressed I would need to graduate from seminary first and that would be expensive. I don't have a lot of money. If I went to seminary I would have to go at night and find a way to pay for it because I have a wife and three kids. She stays home to nurture the children and I am the provider. In my job I am in charge of a technical department for a security products manufacturer. My title is solutions engineer.

    I want to preach the gospel and minister to the needs of God's people and evangelize the lost. I want to do it all the time. What should I do? I pray about it a lot but I just don't know. I don't want to do the wrong thing in regards to being called. I want to make sure I am called before I act.

    Also I was raised by my grandfather who was a pastor. He is very old and has had a stroke and cannot talk about this with me. As a child I used to go with him to visit and minister to people in their homes, nursing homes, and hospitals. I used to read with him in his study at the church. Is it possible that I just miss those wonderful times? I want to make sure I am really called!

    Here is a short example of his preaching and a photo of the church I was saved and baptized in. We lived accors the street in the parsonage: He was calvinistic. His favorite pastor was Spurgeon. He didn't confess a confession. He just preached the bible

    Wise biblical advice appreciated.
  2. lynnie

    lynnie Puritan Board Senior

    In the PCA and Calvinist Baptist churches I know of you could be pastor/elder, as desertion and adultery by a spouse are both considered legitimate grounds for divorce and remarriage. Of course I'd assume there would be some probing into why she left, and if anything about you provoked her, and have you fully repented and changed in those areas. ( not saying it was you, just saying how it would be approached).

    I can't speak about your calling, but I can say that generally in a good church there are more opportunities for laymen to minister outside the pulpit than there are willing volunteers. My church has over 400 people and my pastor is certainly not the only guy going to the inner city mission or the hospital or the missions outreaches. Every member of the body of Christ is a "minister" in some capacity. So your burden/desire does not necessarily equate to a pastor-teacher-elder calling, although it might.

    Definitely talk to your pastor, sometimes churches will help with tuition if they think you are called.
  3. Bill The Baptist

    Bill The Baptist Puritan Board Senior

    Many people believe that divorced and remarried men should not be pastors because of Paul's instruction that they be "the husband of one wife" Of course others have interpreted this verse to refer to polygamy and not neccesarily divorce and remarriage. Regardless, many see a failed marriage as a sign that a man does not manage his household well and is thus unqualified. I really think that is should be based on the overall evidence in a man's life and not just on one event. You must also judge whether or not the person has a genuine calling, because if they do than who are we to argue with God. As a wise man once said, " The devil never put it on anyone's heart to preach the gospel."
  4. CIT

    CIT Puritan Board Post-Graduate

    Never! because obviously divorce is a sin that cannot be forgiven.

    ---------- Post added at 12:37 PM ---------- Previous post was at 12:35 PM ----------

    The world is full of false gospels preached by false preachers who think they are called of God to deliver that "gospel." Just because you want to does not mean you should.
  5. torstar

    torstar Puritan Board Sophomore

    Case by case basis.

    Nothing ventured, nothing gained.
  6. PuritanCovenanter

    PuritanCovenanter Moderator Staff Member

    I don't mean to be harsh but your knowledge of the scriptures and historical Christianity seem to be very incomplete. You seem to have some knowledge concerning some theological issues but it would make me question your ability to understand a calling into the Pastorate. As far as your questioning your ability to be considered based upon your previous marriage that would have to be decided by a careful look at reasons for your wife's departure and the circumstances. And I understand that is not a fun thing to rehash. Many men desire office for various reasons. Pastoring is one of the hardest jobs on the face of the earth. It should take years of training before one enters into this vocation. This can be proven by scripture also. Nothing is prohibiting you from sharing your faith right now. Share it and lead others to Christ in the station you are at. Learn to disciple men on a daily basis. By doing this under the care of your church the men over you can evaluate your abilities and gifts. Confer with your Church Elders, Leaders, and get more acquainted with historic Christianity. Your desire is good. Grow in Grace and the knowledge of the Lord.
  7. he beholds

    he beholds Puritan Board Doctor

    Since your divorce was a biblical one, I believe that you are no different than any other man trying to discern a call.
  8. TimV

    TimV Puritanboard Botanist

    Why the case by case stuff if he's biblically divorced? It's like saying our sins are forgiven on case by case basis.
  9. J. Dean

    J. Dean Puritan Board Junior

    The Bible gives two clear cases of permission from divorce: adultery and desertion.

    If what you said is true about your ex-wife leaving you for another guy, then that is within the acceptable bounds of divorce (And may I add that I'm sorry to hear that, my friend :( ).
  10. Osage Bluestem

    Osage Bluestem Puritan Board Junior

    Thanks brother. It's ok. It was years ago. I'm well over it. Although it was quite the shock at the time.
  11. he beholds

    he beholds Puritan Board Doctor

    Thank you! I could not figure out how that was recurring advice! EVERY man discerning a call/church seeking a pastor is done case-by-case. Sure, we could say, "case-by-case, you will meet some prejudices," but that has nothing to do with should one go to seminary. I mean, every person interviewing for any job, secular or religious, will meet prejudices (he's too old, too young, too fat, too ugly, too handsome, unmarried, remarried, etc...). Being deserted by a wife is not a spiritual flaw of the man's. It is also not a more spiritual prejudice for a church to have. If Jesus allows for divorce in such a situation, it is not a sin. Jesus does not allow sin. If someone else is to then hold that person guilty of sin, they are wrong.
  12. Scott1

    Scott1 Puritan Board Doctor

    This summarizes the doctrine of Scripture to say that the narrow biblical grounds are adultery or irremediable abandonment of a believer by an unbeliever. The aspirational standard is still reconciliation, even in those cases.

    The grounds are not to be left to self determination.

    I Timothy 3 and Titus I, requiring an exemplary, not perfect, but exemplary life qualification for church officers would seem to indicate if an unbiblical grounds, then a subsequent remarriage being unbiblical disqualifies from church office (minister, elder, deacon, etc.), at least.

    Some would say more.
  13. PuritanCovenanter

    PuritanCovenanter Moderator Staff Member

    This isn't about forgiveness of sin Tim. And I think you know that. It isn't like saying our sins are forgiven on a case by case basis. This doesn't have anything to do with forgiveness of sin or sins. It has to do with qualifying for something. You do admit there are qualifications right? A person can be forgiven and be disqualified for position. We can discuss generalities here. Yes, I believe the WCF has it right concerning this issue. That is general. But his Elder's need to find out and discern this as I imagine they will if he pursues this.

    I am seeking to be remarried. It must first be determined whether or not I am eligible to be remarried. Did I have a biblical grounds for divorce? My testimony needs to be investigated by real people about real issues. A discussion forum is not a place to see it up front. The process still needs to be gone through with much humility. And it does rip open old wounds and failures.
  14. KMK

    KMK Moderator Staff Member

    What do your elders think? That would be the place to start.
    Last edited: May 10, 2011
  15. Bill The Baptist

    Bill The Baptist Puritan Board Senior

    This only applies if your desire is to preach the true gospel.
  16. he beholds

    he beholds Puritan Board Doctor

    I know that. But how does that info relate to this discussion?
  17. DMcFadden

    DMcFadden Puritan Board Doctor

    First, on the issue of the meaning of the biblical texts, cf. Saucy, BibSac 131 (July-September 1974) 229-240.

    Second, when I served as a pastor, beyond the issue of a biblical reason for divorce, it was my rule to look at people in terms of their part in the breakup. Having never met too many truly "innocent" parties (like none!), it was important to me to assess how well they had come to terms with their own proportion (even if it was only 5%) of blame for the breakup and confessed their own sin. A self-righteous person insisting on his/her "rights" because he/she wasn't the one to leave impressed me a lot less than a person who could say "have mercy on me, O Lord, for I am a sinner" even if they were in the position of having been divorced by their spouse.

    Third, it will depend on your denomination. Some groups ban ANY divorced people from serving as pastor regardless of the reasons and historical distance of the divorce. Others (mainlines), have some of their top leaders who are currently serving as remarried persons even after "unbiblical" divorces. (I know of a denomination where the top guy was ordained, cheated on his wife, reconciled, cheated on her again with one of his subordinates, left his wife and married his colleague, and kept his ministerial credentials!!! A bunch of the other denominational hierarchy even attended the wedding because they did not want not appear "judgmental"). And, some groups accept the fact of a "biblical divorce" as permitting one to be ordained and serve as pastor. So, yes, it does depend on your group.

    You should seek the counsel of spiritual men you respect who know you well. In my tradition, the call to ministry is tested not merely by subjective feelings of the "called one," but also by the confirmation of the body. If they support and confirm you call, I would not personally see the divorce prima facie disqualifying. Not being a "one woman man" (whether a cheater in fact or a lech who talks about sex inappropriately) would matter more to me than the divorce and remarriage. There are plenty of men in ministry who are not "one woman" men, even though they have never been divorced.

    [25+ years ago I had to confront and then "out" my mentor in ministry for having an affair with one of my parishioners. It turned out that she was one of more than 100 that he cheated with over a decade, sometimes different women in the same week. Yet, now in his late 70s, he is STILL married to the same woman, his wife of nearly 60 years. Definitely NOT a "one woman man" by the standards of the Pastoral Epistles. My point is that the biblical standards are tougher than a simple "divorced" or "not divorced" criterion would indicate.]
  18. KMK

    KMK Moderator Staff Member

    Dennis, is that Bibliotheca Sacra by DTS?
  19. he beholds

    he beholds Puritan Board Doctor

    Oh, so you were just joking, like with your "yes, someone, somewhere, has an opinion on that," type answers! Sorry! I missed that!
  20. PuritanCovenanter

    PuritanCovenanter Moderator Staff Member

    This is a complicated matter. It must first be determined that he didn't drive his wife away to another man also. There is a lot to look at concerning this. There is a lot to peer into theologically. A simple statement concerning a wife's departure might not be enough. It does have theological ramifications. It will affect his view of theology and knowing God. It will matter on how he discerns and counsels. His Elders are the best place to start with this. The unfortunate thing is that the SBC is very lax and doesn't understand a lot of this. I am a Reformed Baptist theologically for the most part. I do know of SBC guys who do not think he is qualified. From what I understand if he held to John Piper's position he wouldn't even be considered qualified to be remarried. Thus, he wouldn't be qualified for a position of leadership in the Church.
  21. Bill The Baptist

    Bill The Baptist Puritan Board Senior

    Obviously we can all agree that there are many qualifications that must be met before one can become a pastor, but you seem to be suggesting that in depth knowledge of theology and church history are also prerequisites. I do not see this as being biblical because the men that Jesus chose to be his disciples were for the most part uneducated. Obviously one needs to be knowledgable before they can presume to teach, but that is what seminary and the church are for. To say that someone cannot even consider becoming a pastor because they do not yet possess the neccesary knowledge is wrong in my opinion.
  22. Osage Bluestem

    Osage Bluestem Puritan Board Junior

    Well, I have respect for the views here and I just wanted to discuss it. I have emailed my senior pastor and asked him to talk to me about it. Just wanting to see what you guys thought. We're not in the same denomination anyway for the most part. Looking for biblical advice on a subject I'm sure every pastor here has experience with.
  23. he beholds

    he beholds Puritan Board Doctor

    I can't argue with you there. Wow, does that mean I'm dreaming? ;)

    I guess I was answering your question: "Does a man's biblically justified divorce automatically disqualify him from consideration of office?"

    I think some are answering yours and some are answering his and some are answering other questions altogether! I think some aren't answering whether he's biblically qualified, but what is their or a denominations's opinion regarding the qualifiability of a justifiably divorced man.

    I think the comments regarding re-establishing the man's innocence in a divorce are a little off. That should probably be discerned at the time of divorce or regarding church membership. Right? I mean, the church should have judged and dealt with that already. But to take a man who has already been "approved" innocent by the church and say, "Well, what did you do wrong in that marriage?" doesn't make sense to me. Of course every person in every marriage does really annoying, even hurtful things. But those don't give the other person the right to leave. If the divorce has been established as justified, I don't think what the offended partner did really matters. If he did do something that gave his wife the biblical right to leave, then he is already not in a justified divorce.

    I think those things regarding what sins did he commit against his first wife as well as what sins does he commit now, etc, should play into the "should I go to seminary" conversation, but that is the same with any other man. So in general, regarding qualification, I think a man who has been justifiably divorced is the same as a man who has only been married once/not married. I am willing to be convinced otherwise and I'm not speaking for personal reasons. My husband has only been married to me and is not seeking to be a pastor--so I'm not just saying what I want to be true.
  24. KMK

    KMK Moderator Staff Member

    Yes it is! Robert L. Saucy, "Husband of one wife," Bibliotheca Sacra 131 (July-Sept. 1974): 229-240.

    However, it appears that DTS does not sell back issues that old. Is there another source?


    Found it:
  25. torstar

    torstar Puritan Board Sophomore

    Biblically divorced? I've heard and read quite a lot of the view that there is no such thing as a biblical divorce. Marriage is once and that's it while both are alive. And these are individuals that are in admired standing by denoms represented here, nobody off the deep end.
  26. ericfromcowtown

    ericfromcowtown Puritan Board Sophomore

    So Jesus and Paul were wrong, then?
  27. DMcFadden

    DMcFadden Puritan Board Doctor


    There is a respectable argument that sees the Erasmian position (divorce permitted for adultery and desertion) as a revisionist "liberalizing" misreading of Jesus and Paul. At one time (nearly 30 years ago when doing my D.Min.), I actually held to the consanguine marriage view as the most biblically defensible one for a variety of reasons grounded in the meaning of the words of Jesus and Paul. Since then, however, my thinking has returned to the Reformational view as the normative one.

    Ken, gone to Rotary when you asked your question. I'll get you a copy of the article by Saucy.
  28. torstar

    torstar Puritan Board Sophomore

    You couldn't have meant to be that crass in your response.
  29. CIT

    CIT Puritan Board Post-Graduate

    These false preachers believe that they are preaching the true gospel. I am not saying that the OP is going to preach a false gospel. I was merely showing that the quote is not really true to reality.
  30. Osage Bluestem

    Osage Bluestem Puritan Board Junior

    I know I'm not a theologian. I also understand that you and I have some differences of view in certain areas, but I believe I have a solid grounding in scripture and that with God's help and seminary I could do the job. I'm sure I'm not spry enough to ever pastor a big church of thousands but there are small churches in places that need a pastor who would do his best to be faithful to the word and meet their needs in Christ. I would love to do that, I just want to make sure I'm really called first before I go and spend all of the money and time on seminary. I don't care how much a church would pay. I expect it wouldn't be much but I can work two jobs as long as the Lord gives me health and stamina. I believe that if I'm really called the Lord will provide a place for me to work.
    Last edited: May 10, 2011
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