“And such were some of you. But you were washed, you were sanctified, you were justified in the name of the Lord Jesus and by the Spirit of our God” (I Corinthians 6:11).
Many churches have in their bylaws a statement that divorce disqualifies a member from being considered as a pastor or a deacon.
I’m suggesting we need to start believing God’s word and quit making divorce the unpardonable sin.
In the qualifications for deacons (I Timothy 3:8-13), verse 12 says, “Husband of one wife.” That “one wife” business has been interpreted in a dozen ways–everything from a deacon must be married (no unmarried person, whether single or widowed, can be a deacon), to no divorced person at all (no matter how many years ago and what kind of record of faithfulness you have achieved over the decades), to no one in a polygamous relationship, and so forth.
Likewise, some churches have women deacons because, while verse 11 says “the women also”–traditionally interpreted to mean wives of deacons–no similar statement is given in I Timothy 3:1-7 which gives qualifications for pastors. If this refers to the deacons’ wives, shouldn’t there be something about pastors’ wives? But there isn’t. So, many have decided verse 11 refers not to wives of deacons, but to women deacons. (Argue if you wish, but Paul is not here to tell us what he had in mind.)
The point is: Since these verses are not clear, faithful brothers and sisters in Christ interpret them in various ways.
Why then do our churches insist that I Timothy 3:12 prohibits a divorced person from becoming a deacon?
I suggest the answer is found in 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.” This seems to state very clearly that unless a person has “grounds” for divorce, remarriage amounts to adultery.