Summary: Does divorce and remarriage disqualify one for Christian service?

(The views expressed in this teaching are not necessarily those of Freedom Bible College, Concepts of Freedom Ministries, or any affiliations, ministers, faculty, or staff thereof.)


A. Very controversial subject.

B. Those who teach this view are often called heretical in today’s church. I realize the risk I am taking.

C. I used to believe that a divorced person could not hold any office in the church. This study has its roots in my attempt to prove this.

D. I had many questions raise within myself as I did this study that I could not answer, and my mind was changed.

E. Despite my presuppositions, I was forced to come to the concludion that neither the divorced nor even the remarried Christian is useless in the Church.

I. Adultery and Service.

A. First, I want to establish that divorce is a sin. Make no mistake about that!

B. To divorce and remarry is to commit adultery -- Matthew 5:31-32 -- "It hath been said, Whosoever shall put away his wife, let him give her a writing of divorcement: But I say unto you, That whosoever shall put away his wife, saving for the cause of fornication, causeth her to commit adultery: and whosoever shall marry her that is divorced committeth adultery."

C. God continued to use David even after David committed the actual act of adultery! (not to mention murder).

1. Before you point out that that was under the Old Covenant...

2. According to Jeremiah 30:9, David is going to be the king during the Millenium, basically, the second in command to Christ. This repentant, forgiven servant of God.

D. But why does the evangelical church allow pastors who have actually committed the very act of adultery in their pasts to pastor churches if their wives stay but not if they leave?

1. Why? It seems that the defining factor is the wife’s forgiveness.

2. If a man sins in this fashion, why are we basing his usefulness in the kingdom according to his wife’s reaction?

3. Isn’t his repentance to God the key issue?

E. Isn’t it hypocritical to say that a man who has committed the act of adultery is usable upon his repentance, but a man who tried to run a godly home but whose wife was rebellious and left him is not usable? (Can you see the dilemma?)

1. Are we saying that a person can be forgiven of any sin except divorce?

2. I John 1:9 -- "If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just to forgive us our sins, and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness."

a. He did not say "He is faithful and just to forgive us our sins, except divorce."

b. What he did say is that God would cleanse us from ALL unrighteousness.

3. The fact is that we do not truly know the circumstances surrounding any divorce.

II. Two Wives?

A. I Timothy 3:2-4 -- The Qualifications of a Bishop (overseer, pastor) -- "A bishop then must be blameless, the husband of one wife, vigilant, sober, of good behaviour, given to hospitality, apt to teach; Not given to wine, no striker, not greedy of filthy lucre; but patient, not a brawler, not covetous; One that ruleth well his own house, having his children in subjection with all gravity;"

B. First of all, let it be established that there are many pastors who do not belong behind the pulpit.

1. It seems that everything else to many evangelicals is acceptable except that little, pesky "husband of one wife" thing.

2. I know many pastors that are by no means blameless, who are impatient, that cannot rule their own houses, and who are very covetous of other ministers.

3. But it seems that we can overlook these things as long as he is not divorced.

C. But does the phrase "husband of one wife" refer to a party who is remarried?

1. I’ve heard many pastors say that polygamy was not practiced in Rome.

a. I’ve checked the historical records as well as Roman marriage law.

b. They’re right.

2. But they are missing a very valuable piece of information -- concubinage WAS still practiced in ancient Rome.

a. What is concubinage? Basically, the practice of having a woman on the side.

b. While it was not condemned in the Old Testament, the New Testament pretty much declared it a no-no in I Corinthians 7:2 -- "Nevertheless, to avoid fornication, let every man have his own wife, and let every woman have her own husband."

3. In fact, one would have to be blind or ignorant not to see that it is still practiced today -- they’re called mistresses.

4. Could it be that the qualification to be a pastor was to be a one woman man? Based on the evidence, and evidence gathered from the Greek, I would say, "yes."

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