Question: I have been divorced and my wife has been divorced before our current marriage. We have been following the Lord and I believe I been called to Pastor. I made my mistake of divorce before I was born again believer, I have repented of my sins. I believe the Lord has forgiven me and I want to Pastor a Church. Has the prodigal son has returned to do the fathers work? Or am I going against the word of God if I do Pastor? I have studied two different schools of thought (and been preached to from both sides) what is your thought?
The Bible is very clear about the qualifications of being a pastor. I Timothy 3:1-7 says, “This is a true saying, If a man desire the office of a bishop, he desireth a good work. A bishop then must be blameless, THE HUSBAND OF ONE WIFE, vigilant, sober, of good behaviour, given to hospitality, apt to teach; Not given to wine, no striker, not greedy of filthy lucre; but patient, not a brawler, not covetous; One that ruleth well his own house, having his children in subjection with all gravity; (For if a man know not how to rule his own house, how shall he take care of the church of God?) Not a novice, lest being lifted up with pride he fall into the condemnation of the devil. Moreover HE MUST HAVE A GOOD REPORT OF THEM WHICH ARE WITHOUT; lest he fall into reproach and the snare of the devil.”
You mentioned that you have studied two different schools of thought. What you must do is study the Bible, and be willing to accept what it says as God’s will for your life. II Timothy 2:15 says, “Study to show thyself approved unto God, a workman that needeth not to be ashamed, rightly dividing the word of truth.”
The Bible is very clear in the passage cited above that a pastor is to be the husband of one wife. You do not fit that qualification if you have been divorced and remarried. You then have a “present wife,” and an “ex-wife.” A person could be married and divorced several times, and have several living “ex-wives.” Romans 7:2,3 reminds us, “For the woman which hath an husband is bound by the law to her husband so long as he liveth; but if the husband be dead, she is loosed from the law of her husband. SO THEN IF, WHILE HER HUSBAND LIVETH, SHE BE MARRIED TO ANOTHER MAN, SHE SHALL BE CALLED AN ADULTERESS: but if her husband be dead, she is free from that law; so that she is no adulteress, though she be married to another man.”
People often ask “Why is it that people pick on the divorced and remarried? What do they try and make it a sin that God will not forgive?” God can and does forgive the sin of divorce and remarriage, but what they are facing is the ongoing consequences of their sin. Proverbs 6:30-33 says, “Men do not despise a thief, if he steal to satisfy his soul when he is hungry; But if he be found, he shall restore sevenfold; he shall give all the substance of his house. But whoso committeth adultery with a woman lacketh understanding: he that doeth it destroyeth his own soul. A WOUND AND DISHONOUR SHALL HE GET; AND HIS REPROACH SHALL NOT BE WIPED AWAY.”
Why is his reproach not wiped away? Because he is living with another man’s previous wife. That man is never going to forget that. There are often children also involved in such marriages. Children that then have to choose between mom and dad. Children that never forget that some other man came into mom’s life, and dad had to leave. Feelings can calm down over the years and become civil between the parties involved, but the reproach never goes away.
Divorce and remarriage can be forgiven like any other sin, but the reason that the reproach never goes away, is because you can never make restitution for your sin.
If you steal something from someone, you can pay the person back (the Bible commands paying back extra — Exodus 22:1-7 says, “IF A MAN SHALL STEAL an ox, or a sheep, and kill it, or sell it; HE SHALL RESTORE FIVE OXEN FOR AN OX, and FOUR SHEEP FOR A SHEEP. If a thief be found breaking up, and be smitten that he die, there shall no blood be shed for him. If the sun be risen upon him, there shall be blood shed for him; for HE SHOULD MAKE FULL RESTITUTION; if he have nothing, then he shall be sold for his theft. If the theft be certainly found in his hand alive, whether it be ox, or ass, or sheep; HE SHALL RESTORE DOUBLE. If a man shall cause a field or vineyard to be eaten, and shall put in his beast, and shall feed in another man’s field; of the best of his own field, and of the best of his own vineyard, SHALL HE MAKE RESTITUTION. If fire break out, and catch in thorns, so that the stacks of corn, or the standing corn, or the field, be consumed therewith; he that kindled the fire SHALL SURELY MAKE RESTITUTION. If a man shall deliver unto his neighbour money or stuff to keep, and it be stolen out of the man’s house; if the thief be found, LET HIM PAY DOUBLE.”) In that way, the offended party can be satisfied by not only having his goods returned, but by seeing that you are indeed sorry for your sin. The offended party actually receives more from you than he had before you stole from him. Thus, the reproach of your sin ceases.
With divorce and remarriage, there is no way for restitution to be made, and thus no way for the reproach to ever cease. You cannot give the man back his wife, because once she has remarried, she cannot Scripturally ever go back to her first husband. Deuteronomy 24:3,4 says, “And if the latter husband hate her, and write her a bill of divorcement, and giveth it in her hand, and sendeth her out of his house; or if the latter husband die, which took her to be his wife; HER FORMER HUSBAND, WHICH SENT HER AWAY, MAY NOT TAKE HER AGAIN TO BE HIS WIFE, after that she is defiled; for that is abomination before the LORD: and thou shalt not cause the land to sin, which the LORD thy God giveth thee for an inheritance.”
Consider Proverbs 6:29-35 again, after what we have just seen. “So he that goeth in to his neighbour’s wife; whosoever toucheth her shall not be innocent. MEN DO NOT DESPISE A THIEF, if he steal to satisfy his soul when he is hungry; BUT IF HE BE FOUND, HE SHALL RESTORE SEVENFOLD; he shall give all the substance of his house. BUT WHOSO COMMITTETH ADULTERY with a woman lacketh understanding: he that doeth it destroyeth his own soul. A WOUND AND DISHONOUR SHALL HE GET, AND HIS REPROACH SHALL NOT BE WIPED AWAY. For jealousy is the rage of a man: therefore he will not spare in the day of vengeance. He will not regard any ransom; neither will he rest content, though thou givest many gifts.” No amount of money can pay back a man for taking his wife, and there is no way for him to ever be reunited to his wife, if she has remarried. Getting saved after this sin does not change the fact of the reproach.
If you only knew of the trouble and deceit that I have seen in the ministry by pastor’s that have been divorced and remarried. They try to cover it up their whole lives, but it eventually comes out (Numbers 32:23 says, “Be sure your sin will find you out.”), and then the cause of Christ gets hurt.
God can use you in a marvelous way in your life, if you will humble yourself, and wait upon Him for direction. I Peter 5:6 says, “Humble yourselves therefore under the mighty hand of God, that he may exalt you in due time.” God can bless you much more in the occupation of His choosing, than to take a position which He forbids you in His Word.