“A bishop … must be the husband of one wife….”
—1 Timothy 3:2
A PLAGUING PROBLEM
One of the most persistent and pugnacious problems that is plaguing the Apostolic movement today is the issue of divorce and remarriage. Never before in the history of the Church has this problem been so rampant and pervasive, it seems. It would be hard to find a church or a family that has not had to face and deal with this issue personally. And while this subject is a concern for the Church as a whole, nowhere is it of more acute importance and vital interest than in the ministry. And it is THE MINISTRY to whom the Apostle Paul issued the directive:
“A bishop must be the husband of one wife.”
A LOGICAL SOLUTION
There is a broad range of interpretation in the Apostolic ranks concerning the issue of divorce and remarriage. Indeed, this has been the cause of much intense debate and bitter disputing among Apostolic brethren for many, many years. And from the looks of things the conflict will continue at least until the rapture. But if our God is anything, He is most notably a God of Reason (“The Word”—LOGOS), and if we ever distill from this subject the essence of Divine Intention we must fervently seek to be delivered from unreasonable men—i.e., men who either cannot or simply will not submit to the principles of divine logic and reason.
THE APOSTOLIC MINISTRY
Examine closely the list of ministerial qualifications that were stipulated by the Apostle in I Timothy 3—
2 A BISHOP then must be blameless, the husband of one wife, vigilant, sober, of good behavior, given to hospitality, apt to teach;
3 Not given to wine, no striker, not greedy of filthy lucre; but patient, not a brawler, not covetous;
4 One that ruleth well his own house, having his children in subjection with all gravity;
5 (For if a man know not how to rule his own house, how shall he take care of the church of God?)
6 Not a novice, lest being lifted up with pride he fall into the condemnation of the devil.
7 Moreover he must have a good report of them which are without; lest he fall into reproach and the snare of the devil.
8 Likewise must the DEACONS be grave, not doubletongued, not given to much wine, not greedy of filthy lucre;
9 Holding the mystery of the faith in a pure conscience.
10 And let these also first be proved; then let them use the office of a deacon, being found blameless.
11 Even so must THEIR WIVES be grave, not slanderers, sober, faithful in all things.
12 Let the DEACONS be the husbands of one wife, ruling their children and their own houses well.
13 For they that have used the office of a deacon well purchase to themselves a good degree, and great boldness in the faith which is in Christ Jesus.
THE APOSTOLIC PLUMB-LINE
THESE QUALIFICATIONS SET THE STANDARD FOR THE APOSTOLIC MINISTRY. Ideally, everyone in our churches would meet these requirements, but sadly it is not now the case, nor has it ever been, in all likelihood. If the Apostle Paul—under the direct influence of the Holy Ghost—had expected that everyone in the church would meet all these requirements, then this scripture would have been worded quite differently. INSTEAD OF BEING WRITTEN MERELY FOR THE PREACHERS AND THEIR WIVES AND ASSISTANTS, THESE STRINGENT REQUIREMENTS WOULD HAVE BEEN WRITTEN FOR THE WHOLE CONGREGATION!
While it is true that we would like for everyone in our assemblies to live up to these exemplary ideals, we do not have Apostolic authority to demand it of anyone except the ministry, and by extension those who are in leadership positions in the church! By the same token, those who do not demand it of the ministry have no right to claim to be Apostolic. It doesn’t matter how many so-called Apostolic or Pentecostal organizations or independents grant a twice-married man permission or a license to preach, the Apostolic plumb-line, resolute and unbending, disallows it.
EXAMPLES OF EXCELLENCE
Furthermore, this is the standard of excellence, the goal which should be sought and desired by everyone in the Apostolic church: only one wife for men, and only one husband for women—IN THE CHURCH. The ministry sets the example for the flock, according to 1 Peter 5:
1 The elders which are among you I exhort, who am also an elder, and a witness of the sufferings of Christ, and also a partaker of the glory that shall be revealed:
2 Feed the flock of God which is among you, taking the oversight thereof, not by constraint, but willingly; not for filthy lucre, but of a ready mind;
3 Neither as being lords over God’s heritage, but being examples to the flock.
THE SHEEP FOLLOW THE SHEPHERD
A player who sits on the sidelines during a game because he is ineligible as a result of a violation of the rules of the game does not lose his ability to play; he loses his right to play. So it is with leaders in the church. Being twice-married does not strip them of their ability to preach or teach, as has been proven by so many who are still using them in spite of the Apostolic injunction against it; rather, it strips them of their right to preach or teach. The reason why they are no longer granted the right to be spiritual leaders is plain to see: the flock will inevitably and invariably follow the direction of the shepherd. And when the leader has been divorced and remarried, the door of permission for such behavior is opened to the whole congregation. It doesn’t matter how hard a preacher may preach and teach against it, he leads not only by precept but also by example.
Rev. Tim D. Cormier
[written o2 July, 2003]