I read of a student who made a mistake of identification. He was in the college chapel and, looking at the order of service, groaned aloud. The middle-aged lady next to him asked what was the matter. The student replied, “It’s the preacher. He’s my director of studies. I have to go to his lectures and he’s the dullest man alive, utterly boring.” “Oh,” said the woman, “Do you know who I am?” The student looked at her and said he didn’t. “Well,” said the woman, “I’m the preacher’s wife!” The student said faintly, “And do you know who I am?” “No,” said the professor’s wife. “Hallelujah,” said the student!
A good church has: 1) A reverent opinion of Scripture, 2) an awe of who God is, 3) the right leadership. And so we begin part 2 of our mini-series on Pastoral Leadership in a good church. A good church must know what God’s criteria are for leaders and maintain that criteria for its leadership. There are four areas these qualities of leadership fall under: 1) The Pastor at Home, 2) What the Pastor must not be, 3) What the Pastor Must Be, and 4) The Skillset of the Pastor.
The first place Paul says a pastor must be evaluated is in his home. A man’s home life is of first importance when assessing his qualification to lead the church. Not his business success. Not his wealth. Not his popularity. Not his looks. Rather, What is he at home? What is he as a husband? What is he as a father? If you can’t put your confidence in him as a husband and a father, then beloved do not put your confidence in him as a pastor.
#1: He Must Be Modeling a Faithful Marriage
The Pastor must be modeling a faithful marriage. Notice verse 6 when it says, “An elder must be blameless, the husband of but one wife…” The husband of but one wife. The Greek literally says, “one woman man”. This phrase – this qualification – is the first thing Paul says in 1 Timothy 3 as well. Both Titus 1 and 1 Timothy 3 are passages where qualifications for church leaders are laid out. Both lists start the same way: he must first be blameless and second, he must be the husband of one wife. Why is this observation important? The pastor must be blameless in his marriage. “Is his marriage an exemplary marriage?” When we look at him as a husband is there anything that stands out that is a problem? Or do other men do well to emulate him as a husband?
If we can look back and see the degradation of marriage in Paul’s day we will begin to see why he put this at the top of the list. Barclay (pg 85-88)
With this picture of marital disaster we can see where Paul was coming from. Paul, inspired by the Holy Spirit, instructs us that the marriages of Christians were expected to stand in sharp contrast to those of the pagans all around at the time. And the pastors marriage was to be one of the foremost examples to a godless world of what a godly marriage is. The marriage between Christians should be like an flourishing exotic island surrounded by the tumultuous sea of pagan relationships. So what did Paul mean by “one woman man”? Some commentators want to narrowly define this phrase, but, I think it is has a broad meaning including the following:
#1: This is obviously a prohibition of polygamy. He cannot be married to more than one woman at a time.
#2: This is a clear expectation of exemplary marital conduct. It has been said that wherever Christianity is purity is restored. How do we know this is what Paul meant as well? First we understand the breakdown of marriage in society during Paul’s day and see that Christians marriages should be beacons of light in the darkness around. But, secondly, the pastor’s marriage is the very first issue Paul goes to after saying he must be blameless. The pastors marriage must be blameless. Pastors must be husbands that love their wives as Christ loves the Church (Eph. 5:25), who are not harsh with them (Col. 3:19), who treat them with respect and know they are co-heirs of the gracious gift of life (1 Peter 3:7). What the pastor is in his marriage should be worth imitating by other men.
#3: That a man be married is preferable, but not required. Paul was not married. However, I would caution a church from seriously considering a man who is not married. He would have to display character and skills in an even more exemplary way. If a man does not have his own Bride, how can he properly understand Christ’s Bride, the Church? He should be experiencing marriage to minister to the One Christ is married to.
The Church is a family first, and the a man’s family at home is his training ground and proving ground for leading the larger church family. Marriage matures a man, gives him the platform to experience leading others in his own household, forces him to face his character deficits and grow to make the relationship flourish. He learns to handle relationship difficulties personally, applying God’s Word in his own intimate relationship with his wife and children. He learns to put someone else first every day, to forgive, to ask forgiveness, to live by grace, to live in someone else’s grace, to communicate and to make mature priorities, responsibly providing for the physical, emotional and spiritual well-being of his wife. He learns what commitment is in practice. So much of what is learned in the daily experience of marriage is necessary in the daily experience of church leadership.
One consideration much more pertinent to us today is “can a man be a pastor if he is remarried?” Paul says, “a one woman man”. Does that rule out a man on his second wife? Or third? It depends on if the remarriage was Biblically sanctioned or not. A widower who has remarried may become a pastor. The Bible states clearly in Romans 7:2,3 and 1 Corinthians 7:39 that someone is free to marry if their spouse has died. Therefore a remarried widower is not disqualified from being a pastor.
The next obvious question is, “If the pastor is to be a one woman man, can a man who is divorced and remarried become a pastor?” Good question. We live in a day where the divorce rate is very high, even among Christians. So this becomes a very relevant question to us today. Some men teach that divorce is not the point of this passage but the purity and faithfulness of the man in his marriage is the point. I would argue that the phrase is broad enough that it speaks to this issue, and, besides, if it were about marital faithfulness then Paul could have said those very words. On the other hand, some believe that a divorced man may not become a pastor no matter what the reasons were for the divorce.
Still others, including myself, believe it teaches that a divorced and remarried man may become a pastor so long as his divorce and remarriage were sanctioned by Scripture. To answer the question if a remarried man is Biblically qualified to be a pastor or not we have to answer if he was Biblically qualified to get remarried. There are 2 conditions Scripture allows for divorce, and therefore a remarriage: 1) when a spouse engages in unrepentant marital unfaithfulness (Matthew 5), and 2) when an unbelieving spouse refuses to live with the other person and abandons you (1 Corinthians 7). My basic point is that if the Bible did not prohibit his remarriage then it does not prohibit his becoming a pastor.
Other important qualifications for the pastor need to be recognized here as well. His wife must be a believer. First Corinthians 9:5 Paul says, “Don’t we have the right to take a believing wife along with us, as do the other apostles and the Lord’s brothers and Cephas?” We can see that a man in church leadership can only marry a Christian woman. God strictly forbid Aaron and the Levites from marrying foreign women in the OT. They were restricted to marrying women who met certain criteria (virgins, couldn’t be divorced, must be Israelite women). In the same way pastors are forbidden by God from marrying spiritually foreign women. They must marry women who are in the faith. Again, he is an example to the rest of the Christians because all believers are commanded “not to be unequally yoked with unbelievers” (2 Cor. 6:14). Christians are forbidden from marrying non-Christians, how much more are pastors?
Another qualification that we observe today is that the pastor must be a man. And a naturally born man. A woman cannot have a sex-change and then qualify to be a pastor. She is still a she just like God made her to be.
But the bigger point here is that church leadership is for men. I cannot suffer a man who would sit under a woman’s authority. Women can lead and have authority and teach but it must not be over men. Other women and children, yes, but men, no. Let us explore this briefly, understanding then that a good church will not put women in pastoral positions. Here are 7 reasons pastors are supposed to be men.
#1: It is clearly stated. Look at Titus 1:6 again, “the husband of one wife”. The whole passage speaks of men, “he must be blameless” (v7); “he must be hospitable” (v8). “He must hold firmly…” (v9). The same male-specific language is used in 1 Timothy 3. Pastors are clearly to be men.
#2: Women are clearly prohibited from having authority over men (1 Tim. 2). And since pastors have authority (Heb. 13:17) women cannot become pastors as it will put them into a position where they have authority over men. The question may be asked: What if a woman isn’t a pastor can she teach a Bible class with men in it? Biblically the answer is “No” because according to 1 Timothy 2:11-13 the act of teaching is an expression of authority. So women are not to have authority over men either by office or by teaching.
#3: Since the man is the authority in the home, men are also authority in the Church. It makes no sense at all that a man would be the authority of his wife at home but at church she would be his authority. The Church is the “household of God” (1 Timothy 3:15), and in His household men lead.
#4: Apparent exceptions do not become the rule (Deborah, Priscilla). For whatever reason in Biblical history there were some apparent exceptions. Rather than tackling these exceptions I’ll say this which I believe is more practically important: you do not make exceptions the norm. You don’t build ministries on the rare exceptions to the rule. You build your ministries on the clear teachings of Scripture and don’t let those be upended by apparent exceptions.
#5: Male leadership based on Creation (1 Timothy 2:13). Man was created before woman. There is authority in that fact. Furthermore, woman was created from man, which establishes male authority even further. Go back and read Genesis 2 and you’ll see that God’s command was given to Adam (v16) before Eve was created (v22). Eve heard it from Adam. In other words, the man taught the woman God’s word, not the other way around.
#6: Women’s restriction from teaching men is rooted in Eve’s deception (1 Timothy 2:14). When Satan wanted to deceive he went to Eve. Adam’s fault was failing to take the authority he had been given and respond to Satan with God’s Word. Instead he sat back and let his wife be deceived. Vulnerability to deception is inherent in women more than it is in men. Yes, men can be deceived – it happens all the time. But women are more susceptible to spiritual deception than men. And when 2 Timothy 4:3 says that there will come a time when they will not put up with sound doctrine but to tickle their ears they will surround themselves with teachers who tell them what their itching ears want to hear I am telling you many of those tickling teachers are women. Take note, every denomination that is ordaining homosexuals started with ordaining women. It is the mark of abandoning the authority of Scripture and becoming liberal.
#7: A woman’s ability to teach is not the basis for her authority to teach men. There are plenty of women who are good teachers. But they can’t teach men. It doesn’t mean being a man means you’re automatically a good teacher and being a women means you’re automatically an inferior teacher. Gender has nothing to do with ability. Authority is given to one gender. God’s sovereign determination that men lead the Church is the basis for the prohibition against women teaching men.
I know a woman – not in this church – who is very intelligent and strongly believes she should be able to teach men. She believes she has the ability to teach and should therefore teach classes with men in them. The fact that she can’t see the Bible doesn’t allow her to teach men demonstrates her inability to correctly study and interpret the Scriptures, which actually casts serious doubt on her ability. If a church has no one but as woman who is competent to teach the word of God then the best thing that woman can do is refrain from teaching men. All the lessons she may teach men will never be as valuable to those men as the lesson that men are not to be under the authority of women. A woman’s ability to teach is not the basis for her authority to teach men. God has given authority to men in the home and in the Church.
None of this is chauvinistic or sexist. None of this devalues women. Women are equal with men as image-bearers of God (Gen. 1:27) and co-heirs of the gift of life with men (1 Pet. 3:8). The value women bring to the life and ministry of the home and church cannot be measured. However, to deny the clearly ordained order of the sexes in the home and in the Church is to rebel against God and what He has determined. And a good church will make sure to put a man who is a godly husband at the helm.