Summary: God commanded Hosea to marry a prostitute. This ensured that his was a dysfunctional family. A study of Hosea will encourage Christians as we struggle with honouring God through our families.

“The LORD said to me, ‘Go again, love a woman who is loved by another man and is an adulteress, even as the LORD loves the children of Israel, though they turn to other gods and love cakes of raisins.’ So, I bought her for fifteen shekels of silver and a homer and a lethech of barley. And I said to her, ‘You must dwell as mine for many days. You shall not play the whore, or belong to another man; so will I also be to you.’ For the children of Israel shall dwell many days without king or prince, without sacrifice or pillar, without ephod or household gods. Afterward the children of Israel shall return and seek the LORD their God, and David their king, and they shall come in fear to the LORD and to his goodness in the latter days.”

His name was Jim. What is important is that he was a gifted preacher of the Word, a missionary to Mexico who had performed admirably in that capacity. His wife, however, bored with her marriage vows, began sleeping with another man. Finally, despite repeated efforts to turn her again toward a godly walk with the Lord, despite seeking marriage counselling to repair the breach in his marriage, she left him, turning to the world for what she felt she had must have. Now, this gifted man of God was removed from ministry because he could not “manage his own family.”

If this was the only instance of such a desertion I had witnessed during the years of my service, it would have been horrible enough. However, my mind goes to a man in northern California who went to a rural congregation where he was powerfully used by God. His wife left him for another man and Wally’s ministry was destroyed. After all, what assembly wants to chance a man who cannot “manage his own family.”

I participated in the ordination of a young missionary to a South American country. After only a few short years, his wife announced that she no longer loved Ken. She wanted more out of life than being a pastor’s wife, more than being a perfect woman living in a fishbowl. She left him and their child for a series of sexual escapades. Reduced to working at menial jobs to provide for his expenses, his ministry was finished. What church will seek leadership from a man who is unable to “manage his own family.”

I am aware that the common perception is that pastors are the ones who fail in their marriages. The stories of pastors who are unfaithful seem to be the stuff of legend, but the truth is that a pastor’s wife is every bit as likely to desert the marriage as is any pastor. Is it possible that modern churches really don’t have a clue what is meant when Paul writes that a man must “manage his own family?”

What I find amazing about the ministry of Hosea is that this lonely prophet was compelled to perform his ministry in the sight of all Israel, despite the open failure of his marriage! His wife, Gomer, was a trollop—there is no polite way to put the matter. Whether or not Hosea fathered the children Gomer bore is open to question. Gomer had slept with multiple men, despite being married to Hosea. According to contemporary church doctrine, Hosea was unable to manage his own family well.

What ridicule the man of God must have endured! How the cruel laughter of the religious leaders must have pierced his soul even as he declared the message God had given him to deliver! To the people about him, Hosea appeared no better then themselves and they no doubt used his home life as justification for their own wicked practises.

Were this account written concerning the life of a leader in any church of this day, I have little doubt that pious and self righteous guardians of the sacred flame would demand that the leader must cease prophesying. The old saw states that the bird with a broken wing shall never soar as high again. The mere threat of ridicule, the mere suspicion that some individuals may look askance at the wounded servant, is sufficient for many religious people to demand that he resign all service in the Name of the Master. However, we are not speaking about birds, whether with broken wings of otherwise! Nevertheless, a number of questions are raised,. Are contemporary religious views correct? Why did God not remove Hosea from serving Him? Does God have two rules for His servants? What does the Bible say about the servant’s brokenness in the home?

GOD HOLDS HIS SERVANT RESPONSIBLE FOR HIS OWN ACTIONS — The servant of God is not responsible for what others do. Not even the actions of the members of his own family are the full responsibility of the elder. There are many who hold the pastor’s family to an unrealistic, even an unbiblical standard. Those who do so appeal to Paul’s words in the Pastoral Epistles. I’ve already alluded to the passages in letters to Timothy and to Titus. To Timothy, Paul wrote, “[The overseer] must manage his own household well, with all dignity keeping his children submissive, for if someone does not know how to manage his own household, how will he care for God’s church” [1 TIMOTHY 3:4-5]?

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