Filter by: Products Articles
Filter by:

Bible Questions with Michael Pearl
Episode 029: Does divorce disqualify a man from being a pastor or elder?

By Michael Pearl

Episode Transcription:

Michael Pearl:  Hi, I'm Michael Pearl and we are here again to answer some of your Bible questions. We've got Jared sitting there behind the camera handling the electronic part of this. And so, he is going to read the questions. I haven't heard the questions before I got here so we are just going to take them as they come. Jared, what have you got this week?

Jared: I Timothy 3, does divorce disqualify a man from being a pastor or elder? How about if a man's wife dies and he remarries?

Michael:  When it says the husband or the elder should be the husband of one wife, it means just what it is saying, not two wives. Now, here in America that doesn't seem to be appropriate. But when you are a missionary and you go to a foreign field, say Papua New Guinea, and you go into a tribe and win a group of people to the Lord, you will have several of the leading men who get saved will have three or four wives. And so when it comes time to appoint elders, he said that you shouldn't appoint elders that have more than one wife because they have enough trouble taking care of their own household when they have that many wives and that many children. Jesus said of the woman at the well, he said thou hast had, thou hast had, past tense, five husbands and the man whom thou now has is not thine husband.

So Jesus recognized in that statement that the first husband was no longer her husband. The second husband was no longer her husband. The third husband, the fourth husband, and the fifth husband were not her husbands. She didn't have them anymore. They were all in the past. Now, they could have all died which is not likely one woman outlive five men or she could have been divorced five different times.

It doesn't matter. The point is that one that was in the past was in the past and if they were living men, then clearly that would establish in an irrefutable way that when a woman divorce a man and marries another man that she only has one husband at that time. She doesn't have two husbands because someone is still alive that she was formerly married to.

The Bible speaks of divorce and even in the Old Testament tells how it should take place. And so, divorce was understood to be a complete severing of that former union in which case they were allowed to marry again and they were never spoke of having two husbands or two wives following that divorce. But they just had a second husband or a second wife at that point.

Now, the question is what about elders, should elders be divorced? I think it is pretty clear in scriptures when it gives the list there in Timothy about the qualifications for an elder that is one who rules his own house well. One that is in good reputation publicly and so, when a man has divorced he made a clear statement, he is not able to rule his house well.

So, not because he is divorced but because of what that divorce implies, his inability to maintain his home. So, yeah, I think he would be disqualified from being an elder or being a pastor. That wouldn't disqualify him from ministry. He could go to a rescue mission and minister. He could go out on the street and preach the gospel. But I don't think that he should be in any influential place in the church.

Certainly wouldn't want him as a Sunday school teacher for my young boys, if he were a divorcee and remarried. Even if a man just was divorced. I hardly see how he would be a good example to our young people or to the church of marriage. So, I don't think he would qualify to be an elder or a pastor or pastor teacher in the church. So again, it is not based on some inherent sinful state that is perpetuated as result of divorce or some lack of dissolution of the first wife, second wife, third wife or third husband marriage.

But I think it is based on what that implies about the life of the individual or character of the individual, his inability to maintain his own household well and to have nurtured his wife and trained her up. Instead, very sadly, his habits or lack of habits led to the divorce. I have never seen a situation where a divorce was all one person to blame. It's always somewhere around 50/50 or 60/40 or at the worst about 30/70. In other words, each party has somewhat to blame when a divorce takes place.

Announcer:  If you would like to ask a Bible question, email us at [email protected].

Leave a Reply

5 comments on “Does divorce disqualify a man from being a pastor or elder?”

  1. Dear Sir,
    What about a Christian who was not saved while he was married for the first time, got divorced and then got saved, and subsequently remarried. Would he also be disqualified from holding the office of an elder?
    Warm Regards,

  2. Wholeheartedly agree! I have an unrelated question however. What is the name of the dr who gave you stem cell treatment in Fl? My son is having severe neurological problems and won't be able to work much longer. He has a wife and two children under 2.

  3. The woman at the well was indeed with a man when Jesus spoke with her because he said "he whom you now have is not your husband".
    KJK John 4:
    Jesus saith unto her, Go, call thy husband, and come hither. The woman answered and said, I have no husband. Jesus said unto her, Thou hast well said, I have no husband: For thou hast had five husbands; and he whom thou now hast is not thy husband: in that saidst thou truly.

  4. Does divorce disqualify a man from being a Pastor/Elder? Absolutely NOT. In the same way that the "woman at the well" was referred to, as her past husbands being just that, "in the past" husbands... If a man divorces, that woman is also in "the past", and does NOT reflect the mans ability to "rule his household well". "OT", Abraham disbelieved/disobeyed God, and went to another woman to have a son, and God still allowed him to be "the father of His people"... Eli, had rebellious sons, and he was still the high priest. King David had rebellious children, and God anointed/ordained him as King (knowing David's children would be the evil men they were going to be). The "law" is perfect, but then there is grace, because we are not able to keep the law. There are consequences in the separation/divorce, but that doesn't mean a man cannot shepherd, teach, evangelize... I had a wife that would NOT listen, learn or surrender her life to Christ [or me], and continued to sleep around, do drugs, and dishonor my home. I divorced her. I was a Pastor/Teacher/Evangelist when we were married, and I still faithfully walk in that calling GOD has given me to do, for His glory. God has blessed my ministry more now than ever before, and the "helpmeet" I have now, sent to me by my Heavenly Father, is the most wonderful ministry companion I could ever have... She is surrendered to God, and to me, and is a perfect "helpmeet"... Whom she learned to be from the book your wife wrote! She learned from YOUR wife!... I know plenty of "Pastors" that have unruly children, and unbelieving wives, and have been divorced... and they have very wonderful ministries. Thanks for your service to our Heavenly Father, We enjoy your [and your wife's] books... But in this area, I strongly disagree. Lord bless and keep you brother.

Subscribe to our newsletter & stay updated