Is marriage recommended for the bishop, elder or pastor?

Marriage for the Bishop, Elder or Pastor

The Bible clearly recommends marriage for the bishop, elder or pastor as seen in the following passage:

“A bishop then must be blameless, the husband of one wife, temperate, sober-minded, of good behavior, hospitable, able to teach” (1 Timothy 3:2).

“If a man (Elder) is blameless, the husband of one wife, having faithful children not accused of dissipation or insubordination” (Titus 1:6).

“Let deacons be the husbands of one wife, ruling their children and their own houses well” (1 Timothy 3:12).

Certainly, the Bible here condemns the mandatory celibacy of the clergy. Celibacy and other ascetic practices are not encouraged in the Bible. And in the case of death of first spouse remarriage for a religious leader is not condemned.

The Lord gives this council regarding bishops because a married man would be more adequately prepared to understand many of the problems arising among the families of the church. The companionship of husband and wife is one of His ordained means for the proper spiritual development of both (Ephesians 5:22–33; 1 Timothy 4:3; Hebrews 13:4).

Paul is stressing the danger of appointing as bishop, or elder, any man who has an irregular moral record. One fact is clear; the bishop is to have an untarnished record of marital fidelity, which would serve as a worthy pattern for his flock. If church members should fail in this regard, there may be censure and forgiveness; but if a church leader fails to exemplify the highest moral standard, he thereby forfeits his position of leadership.

The Lord condemned sexual promiscuity. Some of the early Christians were excusing divorce for causes other than adultery and this is against what Jesus taught in Matthew 19:8, 9. In a day when polygamy was socially acceptable in the East and concubinage among the Greeks and Romans, Christians were to stand undefiled as an example of a better way of life.

Some may find difficulty in harmonizing the verses by Paul that recommend marriage for church overseers with his statement encouraging men to live as he lived, that is, without a wife (1 Corinthians 7:7, 8).

However, Paul’s statements regarding marriage are viewed in their context, it was the “present distress” of persecutions that led him to urge caution for marriage (1 Corinthians 7:26, 28). Paul does not belittle the divine order of the home, which God instituted in Eden. “Therefore a man shall leave his father and mother and be joined to his wife, and they shall become one flesh (Genesis 2:24; Mark 10:7-9)

In His service,
BibleAsk Team

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