My first thoughts on divorced ministry religion

13 Jul

For those who know me, the statement I am about to make won’t come as a surprise. I have OCD. I say this because the topic for the next few days is a topic many might say I am obsessed about. But I want to explain why my next few topics will deal with divorced deacons and ministers.
You see, for some this might not seem to be a major issue. Many see no problem with divorced deacons and ministers and thus wonder why some make such an issue about the topic. Others see it is a sign that the Church is losing a moral battle, and that divorced ministers or deacons is just one step above women pastors or maybe even worse. But to me, it has been a topic I have had a profound interest in most of my life. For the last several months, specifically, it has become a topic I have studied and discussed with others with great interest. Today, I plan on laying out the thoughts that led me to studying and debating the topic.
You see, in I Timothy 3 and in Titus 1, Paul is writing about the requirements of deacons, elders, and ministers. A key component of the passage states, “A bishop then must be blameless, the husband of one wife.” For pretty much all of my life, I have attended a small Southern Baptist Church, which has taught indefinitely that divorcees cannot, under any circumstances, be a deacon or minister because of this verse. Some have left over how dogmatic the issue has been taught. Meanwhile, many of my friends and family have entered the ministry and most similarly taught that the verse was adamantly stating that divorcees need not apply. Seems pretty cut and dry at that point.
At the same time, it always bothered me that my dad wasn’t a deacon or minister. Growing up, I asked him one day why he wasn’t, as I knew few people then or now who knew the Bible half as good as he did. He told me that although he disagreed with the interpretation of the verse (more on that later), because he was divorced, he couldn’t be a deacon or minister in my family’s church. This always bothered me. The wisest man I ever knew was suddenly put in a secondary position all because of something that happened in his past. I discussed the topic with him off and on most of the remainder of his life. Although I began to personally believe my dad was right, I was still taught constantly that he was wrong and I never really felt settled on the issue.
Through the years, several church leaders I knew divorced for one reason or other. This caused me to question how right my teachers were. Many of the very people who taught that divorcees were not able to become ministers or deacons got divorced over the years and yet many continued in their roles. Over time, more friends of mine left various churches over this issue and it bothered me. Most recently, one of my close friends who was divorced became a minister. His church is thriving and he is a preacher I have the utmost respect for. This all led to me wanting to settle the issue for myself.
Finally, I am a man who is happily remarried after a terrible first marriage and know that God blessed me with my blushing and beautiful bride. Personally, I have no desire to be a deacon or minister and don’t feel that God has called me to either role. For years, I have felt like a second class church member, but I really believe I am just as worthy to be used by God as anyone else. I personally believe that divorcees can preach or be deacons, and that Paul meant something else which makes a lot of sense. My thoughts on the topic are controversial I know. I also know that the number of divorced people, even in churches, is on the rise. Many of those people got a divorce, through no fault of their own. I believe the whole Bible is God’s word and is infallible. Thus, if we look at the whole issue and don’t cherry pick a specific verse here or there, we should be able to come up with a satisfactory meaning of this elusive point Paul makes in his job description he outlines. Do I believe that my arguments I raise will convince anyone to change their mind? No not really, but I hope that it can help someone realize that God still can use them, regardless of what others may tell them.

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