Can a Preacher be Divorced? Divorce is a very painful topic. A Preacher has experienced divorce and still has the heart to preach. It sheds pain everywhere it touches. Divorce did not come from God. He Does not wish this sin and its related hurt on any couple and also its effects on God’s Family. Let’s look at it in-depth.
Can a Preacher be Divorced / Beginning of Marriage Biblically
Before we proceed to answer this question it is good for us to really understand the origin of marriage and the mind of the founder of the institution of marriage. This will help us to understand the original intent of marriage.
What is the Origin of Marriage?
First of all, marriage is a holy institution that was initiated by God Himself in the garden of Eden. After God created the universe including the living and nonliving creation, He realized that He needed someone of His own image and likeness who would multiply and take dominion over the entire creation.
He settled on creating man. The first man to be created was Adam. But Adam couldn’t fulfill God’s original purpose of multiplying and having dominion over God’s creation. Adam was lonely and in need of a helper.
And the Lord God caused a deep sleep to fall on Adam, and he slept, and He took one of his ribs, and closed up the flesh in its place. Then the rib which the Lord God had taken from man He made into a woman, and He brought her to the man. ( Genesis 2:21-22).
After God creating a woman from the man He mentioned something very important in the following verse; Therefore a man shall leave his father and mother and be joined to his wife, and they shall become one flesh.(Genesis 2:24).
Creation Man / Woman
First of all, it should be noted that marriage should take place between a mature male and a mature female and not between members of the same sex. God created Adam a man, then both he and Adam realized that they needed a compliment, a companion, another person of the same, flesh, same heart. Taken from his rib, he formed his companion Eve – I believe the name in the Bible translates “of Man”
If people could understand clearly this concept of God towards marriage they will regard marriage as a serious covenant and not a temporary contract. The difference between the two is that a covenant is a binding agreement that cannot be easily broken while a contract expires and therefore bound to termination at any time. ( Malachi 2:14)
Breaking of this covenant breaks oaths and trust that were made in the measure.
Even under Human Laws, the United States Law there are Legal requirements that are involved. Attorneys are brought in and the assets even the children are divided up by an impartial judge, hearing all the facts.
Trust / Reputation
When a Divorce takes place – reputations are tarnished especially if the couple is in church leadership. It is a very turbulent time, emotions are hot and a lot of hurting is taking place. Not always but usually there is a guilty partner. If Infidelity is involved, there is a third party in the mix, volatile times. We will continue but what effect do all these things have on a preacher.
The term becoming one flesh should not be taken so slightly. It means that when a man and a woman get married there is a strong bond between them that God describes the two becoming one flesh.
The Holy Spirit through Apostle Paul tries to explain this marriage concept in the book of 1st Corinthians. Or do you not know that he who is joined to a harlot is one body with her? For “the two,” He says, “shall become one flesh. ”But he who is joined to the Lord is one spirit with Him. ( 1 Corinthians 6:16-17).
Apostle Paul was teaching the Church in Corinth to flee from sexual immorality as when any man and a woman come together whether, in marriage or any other physical relationship or intimacy, they become one flesh regardless of whether they are living together or not. They are considered to be one.
What is Divorce?
I love the way the English dictionary describes the term divorce, divorce is a legal dissolution of a marriage. This is just a separation of marriage done using legal earthly mechanisms. But we need to clearly understand God’s perspective of divorce according to the Bible.
Does the Bible Allow Divorce?
In the Gospel of Mathew, we see the Pharisees posing this question of divorce to test Jesus Christ. The Pharisees also came to Him, testing Him, and saying to Him, “Is it lawful for a man to divorce his wife for just any reason?”
And He answered and said to them, “Have you not read that He who made them at the beginning ‘made them male and female,’ and said, ‘For this reason, a man shall leave his father and mother and be joined to his wife, and the two shall become one flesh’? So then, they are no longer two but one flesh. Therefore what God has joined together, let not man separate.”( Mathew 19:3-6).
God cannot advocate divorce instead He hates it so much.
Yet you say, “For what reason?” Because the Lord has been witness Between you and the wife of your youth, With whom you have dealt treacherously, Yet she is your companion And your wife by covenant. But did He not make them one, Having a remnant of the Spirit? And why one? He seeks godly offspring. Therefore take heed to your spirit, And let none deal treacherously with the wife of his youth.
“For the Lord God of Israel says That He hates divorce, For it covers one’s garment with violence,” Says the Lord of hosts. “Therefore take heed to your spirit, That you do not deal treacherously.” ( Malachi 2:14-16).
In What Circumstances does the Bible allow divorce?
God allows divorce only if a partner is found guilty of sexual immorality.Matthew 19:9 And I say to you, whoever divorces his wife, except for sexual immorality, and marries another, commits adultery; and whoever marries her who is divorced commits adultery.” (Matthew 19:9).
The Bible doesn’t advocate divorce of any form due to other personal, cultural or legal human reasons. In fact no one is allowed to divorce a spouse who is not of the same faith.
But to the rest I, not the Lord, say: If any brother has a wife who does not believe, and she is willing to live with him, let him not divorce her. And a woman who has a husband who does not believe, if he is willing to live with her, let her not divorce him.( 1st Corinthians 7:12-13). This is how strict God is with the institution of marriage.
Can Divorce Be Forgiven
I believe that the scriptures teach that sin can be forgiven (Acts 2: 38-39). On the day of a couple’s marriage, in both their minds is union and companionship for the rest of their lives. Especially in preaching couples or Christians, the bonds are even stronger because of their christlike convictions.
I have never Married a Couple or even witness a marriage where divorce is Pre-meditated
Can a Preacher Continue preaching While Going Through a Divorce
I have never experienced divorce, so Darlene and I have not been through this so we cannot speak from experience. But These are some Things I think it would be difficult for a minister to be focused and preach and hear God’s Words clearly.
- Anger Feelings
- Betrayal Feelings
- Regret Feelings
- Legal Struggles/assets
- New Housing
- Children’s feelings and emotions
- Hurt and betrayal Emotions can be transferred to caring and helping Christians of God’s Body
- Justification feelings many times are high – We would not want to think that young sheep begin to think that this is something God approves.
Darlene and I worked in a Children’s Home for 4 years. It was a very great time. We Lived on campus, so with our family, we had 6 foster children that Darlene and I had our three girls and then 6 more children.
One of the little foster children 9-12 years old came up to Darlene and said this
” When I grow up and get married and we get a divorce I want to come back and live with you.”
The home that he had come from had experienced divorce and it was very distinct and greatly affected that child.
Some of the children had home visits. And when they would come back to our home, for several days, they would be saying how bad their dad was, or how bad their mom was. When they went home the divorced spouse, whichever one, had a lot of anger that was being transferred to the children.
Can a Preacher be Divorced?
When Apostle Paul is writing to Timothy about the qualifications of a Bishop which can also apply in a preacher he states like this.
Now a bishop (superintendent, overseer) must give no grounds for accusation but must be above reproach, the husband of one wife, circumspect and temperate and self-controlled; [he must be] sensible and well behaved and dignified and lead an orderly (disciplined) life; [he must be] hospitable [showing love for and being a friend to the believers, especially strangers or foreigners, and be] a capable and qualified teacher,( 1 Timothy 3:2)AMP.
Any Bishop or preacher should be above rebuke or blame. The amplified version states it clearly that there should be no grounds of accusations for a bishop, in short, a Bishop should be blameless.
Does this mean that preachers should have any trace of sin? Certainly not, they are human beings and they sometimes sin. But this means that their reputation among the people that they shepherd and live with should not be questionable. They should serve as a good example to the other believers.
It will be questionable if a preacher divorces with reasons apart from sexual immorality. This means that the preacher has failed the standards of being called a preacher.
Therefore anyone who desires to be a Bishop or preacher should lead a life worthy of the gospel that they preach. So many decisions that a preacher makes should not be based on his personal opinions but according to the gospel that they preach.
Only be sure as citizens so to conduct yourselves [that] your manner of life [will be] worthy of the good news (the Gospel) of Christ, so that whether I [do] come and see you or am absent, I may hear this of you: that you are standing firm in united spirit and purpose, striving side by side and contending with a single mind for the faith of the glad tidings (the Gospel). ( Philippians 1:27)AMP.
Also according to (Timothy 3:2 ), a Bishop or preacher should be of one wife. Therefore if a preacher divorces apart from sexual immorality and remarries another wife he will be termed as an adulterer as he will still be one with the first wife according to the Bible.
“Whoever divorces his wife and marries another commits adultery; and whoever marries her who is divorced from her husband commits adultery.( Luke 16:18)
Can a Preacher Continue Preaching after Divorce?
There can be three incidences to this issue.
- First, we can be having a preacher who has decided to file a divorce due to sexual immorality.
- Second, we can have a preacher who divorced a long time ago and remarried before believing and becoming a preacher.
- Third – Then finally there can be a preacher who has been divorced by his partner for other reasons apart from sexual immorality then decides to remarry.
In the first incidence whereby a preacher has divorced as a result of sexual immorality he can either chose to remain single but if he decides to remarry he will not be committing adultery. So if he is of good reproach and blameless he can continue being a preacher.
About the second incidence where someone before becoming a preacher divorces for other reasons and then remarries, believes, and becomes a preacher, it should be noted that whether a believer or not God doesn’t allow divorce. This means that he is still one with the first wife and therefore currently he has two wives. Therefore not suitable to be called a preacher.
The Bible commands those who have divorced for other reasons not to remarry.
Now to the married, I command, yet not I but the Lord: A wife is not to depart from her husband. But even if she does depart, let her remain unmarried or be reconciled to her husband. And a husband is not to divorce his wife.( 1 Corinthians 7:10-11).
Now for the above second case if the preacher should have not remarried after the divorce he can be allowed to become a preacher because he will still be having one wife though separated.
The third incident where a preacher divorces his wife for other reasons then goes ahead and remarries, the Bible terms him as an adulterer( Luke 16:18) because he is still one with his first wife.
The book of Titus further explains the qualifications of a Bishop or preacher. For a bishop must be blameless, as a steward of God, not self-willed, not quick-tempered, not given to wine, not violent, not greedy for money,( Titus 1:7).
The word blameless appears twice in both the letter of Apostle Paul to Timothy and also in the book of Titus as a qualification of a Bishop. This means that the Holy Spirit was serious about this matter and it should not be taken that slightly.
According to Titus a Bishop or preacher is a steward of God. Meaning whatever he does and the decisions he makes are not based on his own opinion but he should do for the sake of God. To be precise it means that the flock that the preacher is overseeing doesn’t belong to him but to God.
Apostle Paul writes this to the church in Corinth.
Let a man so consider us, as servants of Christ and stewards of the mysteries of God. Moreover, it is required in stewards that one be found faithful. ( 1 Corinthians 4:1-2).
Faithfulness in stewardship means doing the right thing according to what the word of God says. So if God and His word hate divorce so any steward who is the preacher should hate divorce. As he cannot preach water and drink wine.
A similarity of preachers in the Old Testament were the Priests who were the Levites, The Levites were a tribe that was set apart to offer sacrifices and offerings to God on behalf of the entire nation of Israel. God was also concerned with their character as they were to be used by God. On this matter of divorce, this is what God instructed Moses to instruct the Levites concerning their conduct.
They shall be holy to their God and not profane the name of their God, for they offer the offerings of the Lord made by fire and the bread of their God; therefore they shall be holy. They shall not take a wife who is a harlot or a defiled woman, nor shall they take a woman divorced from her husband; for the priest is holy to his God. (Leviticus 21:6-7).
The same instructions were given to the high priest. ‘He who is the high priest among his brethren, on whose head the anointing oil was poured and who is consecrated to wear the garments, shall not uncover his head nor tear his clothes; nor shall he go near any dead body, nor defile himself for his father or his mother; nor shall he go out of the sanctuary, nor profane the sanctuary of his God; for the consecration of the anointing oil of his God is upon him: I am the Lord. And he shall take a wife in her virginity. A widow or a divorced woman or a defiled woman or a harlot—these he shall not marry, but he shall take a virgin of his own people as wife. ( Leviticus 21:10-14)
The scripture in the book of Malachi states that the Lord doesn’t change; “For I am the Lord, I do not change;
Therefore you are not consumed, O sons of Jacob. ( Malachi 3:6). This means whatever instructions the Lord had given concerning divorce from the beginning especially concerning His servants and service are still applicable to date. God requires His servants ( the preachers) to be blameless being the husband of one wife so that they may not give grounds for accusations.
The Reason that the answer to this question is asked I believe that a minister, one of God’s leaders Have experienced this and still desires to preach and serve in God’s Kingdom. I would leave these thoughts
- If it is in congregational preaching or shepherding, I would sit down with the congregation and be completely honest with them in all ways. They make the decision. Because of the leadership responsibilities and the younger Christians that look up to you. You never want to imply that sin can be justified.
- If a minister wants to preach – great work can be done in converting the lost to Christ. Being an evangelist you could continue to teach and win the lost to Christ.
- You could create a ministry ministering to couples that are experiencing divorce. Helping them through / or helping don’t go there
- Divorce in the United States is hitting 50% – This is not what God had in mind in the garden. But I could see great opportunity.
- Them Preacher needs to be Ok in his mind and where he is with the Lord
- A preacher must be unencumbered as much as possible to be able to hear the word of the Lord.
- You life in the Kingdom is not Over – But Sin leaves stains even after forgiveness.
- The Minister can Remain single
This was a very difficult article for me. We Tried to share God’s Thoughts on Divorce, But I have known many servants in God’s Kingdom that suffered through this before they became Christians, and after they became Christian, trying to find a place of service.
Given from a heart of Compassion
Love You All Greg and Darlene