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Can a divorced man be a pastor?

Submitted: 11/21/2009
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Question: I've read in 1 Timothy where an overseer (aka bishop) must be the husband of one wife. What if a man gets divorced when he is not saved, gets saved, and finds a saved women whom he then marries. Is he disqualified from being a bishop? In most apostolic churches this is called a double marriage and they cannot serve. What do you think and is this what Paul was teaching?

Answer: We do not believe that this is what Paul was teaching. The term 'husband of one wife' is literally a 'one-woman man.' First of all, we believe that when a person is born again and washed in the blood of Jesus, all sins are remitted, including divorce. People do many things in the ignorance of unbelief that become unacceptable once they have been enlightened by the Spirit. This is why we must make a distinction between pre-salvation divorce and post-salvation divorce.

In Paul's instruction to Timothy, we believe he was not requiring that a man never be divorced or even that a man must be married. We believe he was saying that if an overseer is married, then he must have only one wife. In other words, we see this as a prohibition on polygamy, which was a common practice back then and continues to be in some places today.

As for those who aspire to serve as an overseer, the real issue is, can this man be described as a 'one-woman man'? This means that even if a man has only ever been married to one woman, he still could be disqualified because he has been unfaithful or even because he is flirtatious. What God is interested in is having leaders who honor the institution of marriage as it was orginally conceived by God.