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Don Francisco Don is an internationally known recording artist and one of the pioneers of contemporary Christian music. He is known for putting music to Bible stories and revealing the grace and love of God.  His ballads have blessed millions of people worldwide.


Divorce, Grace and Ministry

By Don Francisco

By now, we all know that churches aren't perfect--as long as there are people in churches, there will be problems and painful situations.  I came back from a service recently where there was heartfelt worship, but I picked up a copy of the church's articles of belief, and discovered that I would never be allowed to be in leadership in that group because I had been through divorce.

They even claimed that their stance is based on Scripture.  Now, first, you need to realize that I had no need, desire, or expectation to be in leadership in that church, but to find I was a second-class citizen there, with no hope of ever redeeming that state, did not exactly make me want to return.  It had the opposite effect.

I wonder how many other people have heard and believed this error about divorce disqualifying them from ministry and "leadership?"  How many in churches around the world have given up on God-given dreams and visions of ministry because of a scarlet letter branded by man to their reputation?  This damaging error needs to be exposed.

In 1 Timothy 3:2 we find one of the verses used to support this erroneous idea:

". . . A bishop, then, must be blameless, the husband of one wife, temperate, sober . . ." and again in verse 12: "Let the deacons be the husbands of one wife . . ." and also in Titus 1:5b-6a: "ordain elders in every city as I commanded you; if a man is blameless, the husband of one wife . . ."

Many churches, and even whole denominations, have interpreted these scriptures to mean that anyone who has been divorced and/or remarried is forever ineligible to be in any position of leadership.  (I wouldn't be surprised if there were some church, somewhere, that made all their male deacons marry the same woman!)  If one is to take Paul to mean "one and only one wife ever," then remarried widowers cannot be in leadership, nor can single people!  (If this is what you believe, read the first few verses of Romans 7 where Paul says that even under the Law a widower was free to remarry.) Further, Paul would be contradicting himself  because in 1 Corinthians 7, he counsels those believers whose unregenerate spouses have left them that they are free.

A better translation of the Greek would be "a one-woman husband"-- someone who is faithful and not flirtatious.  Men who were serving as elders/pastors/overseers and deacons were not to be polygamous (a common situation in the Near East, even today) but were to have only one wife.  These were Paul's concerns, not barring someone from ministry because of their past.

There are three really disturbing things about the churches that have this point wrong:

1) The sheer number of church leaders who misunderstand the Gospel so thoroughly that they can't see what a contradiction it is to all of the greater principles of the New Covenant to allow any part of a person's imperfect past to affect their future in Christ.  It means they are missing the most basic concepts of the Cross and of the character and grace of God.

2) Over half the Christian adult population in this country has been sidelined and told it is unfit for service!  Participation in ministry is for the whole Body!  It is a necessary and wonderful part of the normal Christian life!  One of the most important functions of our gatherings is to equip members of the Body (all of us) for ministry, and to restore hurting members to full capacity.  That is why doctrines like this are so cruel.  It is all too true that Christianity today (not real Christianity, obviously) is a religion that shoots its wounded.

3) Has anyone noticed that God Himself has been through divorce?  Read Jeremiah 3:8.  It has obviously not occurred to leaders when they decide that those who have been divorced may not participate in ministry in their fellowships that they are basically telling God to keep quiet too.

The devil has had nearly 2,000 years to cloud our vision and twist and distort our knowledge of Biblical Christianity.  Don't let him win in this area.  If you are divorced, no matter who was "at fault," remember where your righteousness comes from.  It's from Jesus, not from man; and it's a gift you receive by faith, not by works.  Nobody can stand before God in their own righteousness--nobody.  But God, through the Cross of Jesus, has taken all of our imperfections as far away from us as East is from West . . . ALL of them.  God remembers them no more.  That is the uncompromised Gospel.


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