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Must every elder be married with at least two children?

Submitted: 1/2/2009
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Question: Does an elder or a deacon have to have been married (as to not rule out widowers) and have fathered 2 or more children, to fufill the requirement that they have their 'children' and not 'child' (or lack thereof) in subjection? Some may think this is an overly strict look at the requirement for an elder or a deacon and their family, but do we have the authority to bend the requirement on this matter? Is GOD trying to clearly say there is something to having multiple children that a man with only one or no children would lack understanding on? If this were an OT requirement for priests, for example, would this not be followed out exactly as it is written? I only asked these follow-up questions as to fully give the scope of what I am asking. Happy New Year (I think this is the first question of '09- LORD bless the Glorious Church ministry in '09)!

Answer: We would not object if an assembly chose to interpret Paul's instructions this way. There is certainly something to be said for the leadership experience gained by being married and having several children. All of the elders at our assembly are raising (or have raised) three children. On the other hand, we do not consider Paul's instructions to Titus and Timothy to be a rigid and exhaustive list of requirements. That is, we see it more as a general description of the type of men who should be selected as pastors/elders. This does not mean we can just arbitrarily overlook the attributes on his list; it's just that they only apply to those whose circumstances demand compliance. In other words, we don't see it as requirement that a man be married, only that he be a 'one woman man' (this is the literal translation). This speaks more of the way a man conducts himself than of his actual marrital status. In addition, if he has children, he must be an excellent leader of his household. Having said this, I can say that we would have to be very impressed with a man who was not married or who had no children before we would ever consider appointing him as an elder. The home is where a man demonstrates his leadership abilities. We also would probably not appoint a man under thirty years of age, even though this is not included on Paul's list. For more on this subject, please read our article called 'The Operations of the Elder Team' on Shelf 3 of the Apostolic Free Library on this website. We welcome any follow-up questions you may have.