July 16, 2019

Single? Need Not Apply

By Chaplain Mike

Alert reader Jason notified us about an interesting article that discusses a topic most evangelical churches don’t publicly acknowledge or talk about: discrimination against single pastors.

Writing in the New York Times, Erik Eckholm begins his story with an example:

“Like all too many Americans, Mark Almlie was laid off in the spring of 2009 when his workplace downsized. He has been searching for an appropriate position ever since, replying to more than 500 job postings without success.

“But Mr. Almlie, despite a sterling education and years of experience, has faced an obstacle that does not exist in most professions: He is a single pastor, in a field where those doing the hiring overwhelmingly prefer married people and, especially, married men with children.

“Mr. Almlie, 37, has been shocked, he says, at what he calls unfair discrimination, based mainly on irrational fears: that a single pastor cannot counsel a mostly married flock, that he might sow turmoil by flirting with a church member, or that he might be gay. If the job search is hard for single men, it is doubly so for single women who train for the ministry, in part because many evangelical denominations explicitly require a man to lead the congregation.”

Al Mohler is quoted in the NYT story as dismissing the criticism, saying the word “discrimination” implies that churches are doing something “wrong” in preferring staff members who are married with families. “Both the logic of Scripture and the centrality of marriage in society, justify the strong inclination of congregations to hire a man who is not only married but faithfully married.” Mohler also warns seminary students that staying single will significantly limit their opportunities to be pastors.

Someone should have told the Apostle Paul. In 1Corinthians 7, he expressed a wish that many Christians would remain single like him, so that they might serve the Lord “free from concern” that comes from having a wife and family. In contrast—

“Sometimes, parishioners have an unspoken preference for a happily married male with a wife who does not work outside the home,” Cynthia Woolever, research director at U.S. Congregations, wrote in a 2009 article. “She also volunteers at the church while raising ‘wholesome and polite children.’”

And so, more testimonial evidence that the real evangelical religious enterprise in America is building full service family-friendly activity centers led by those who place “family values” way up at the top of their list of priorities.

And this makes sense for those who claim to follow an unmarried Savior and whose favorite theologian was a single man?

Note: You can read more of Mark Almlie’s thoughts on this subject in his blog posts at Out of Ur from earlier this year.

Comments

  1. I am single, and I am finishing up my internship and looking for my first Church role as a pastor next year. I can tell you from personal experience, this is very much true. I have had multiple churches turn me down before they got to know me because one of the first questions they asked is if I was married.

    • Josh…looking back I never realized how most of the ministry leaders/pastors were always married. I think its an ugly statistic but I also think it can be the tip of the ice berg. In addition to single pastors being discriminated against I also think singles in general can be discriminated against and given the cold shoulder. In 2011 American fundgelicalsim marriage, and having kids is made an idol. Now there’s nothing wrong with being married or haivng kids, but when the lack of that is held against people it can be ugly. This is one of the reasons why as an agnositc I view American evangelicalism to be more of a rich, white country club born and thriving in the suburbs heavily influenced by the American Dream.

      By the fundegelical culture can make this brutal for single pastors or single people overall.

      • Mike (the other chaplain) says

        I think it’s interesting that you have so much to say about fundigelicalism, especially as an “agnositc”

        • Just think of Eagle as being right there next to Michael Spencer’s Jane Doe, the young lady behind the counter in the Dairy Queen incident. Sure, he’s a bit more prolific than she was (as far as we know she only wrote that one letter to Michael), but I find his perspective refreshing and insightful.

          • Mike (the other chaplain) says

            James….I get the analogy and know what you are trying to say, I just don’t think it’s any reason to be so insulting toward those of who consider ourselves Evangelicals. I’ve been reading this site a long time. The Monk was a much better moderater, now it just seems like one big b*tch session for why Evangelicals suck, white men suck, Americans in general suck, now apparently married men called to pastor also suck. It seems the new ideal pastor is someone who is preferably gay, female, non-white, doubts their faith, but is sure everyone’s going to heaven, eventually.

            Sorry for the rant, but I’ve found this site to be increasingly depressing. So I’ll take my leave.

        • Headless Unicorn Guy says

          Eagle’s an ex-Fundagelical. Spent a LOT of time in-country.

          Now his Post-Evangelical Wilderness has him in full Agnosticism, probably a strong “Take Your God And Shove It!” reaction so he doesn’t get burned again. I know because I’ve been there. Good chance that in time his reaction will heal and eventually he might rejoin the fold again, probably in a mainstream or liturgical church environment. I know this because that’s what happened to me. Though Eagle got a more severe burn job than me.

        • Mike…I’ve learned in my job that it’s important to be able to receive criticism. My boss has taught me that in reviews, and difficult work situations. It can be hard but I think it’s made me better by being able to receive criticism and learn to not be defensive. Many evangelicals don’t like to receive criticism because they are so focused on being right that their minds are closed. Because they can be so focused on knowing “the truth” they also can also become very arrogant. As a result they suffer both as Christians and intellectually and people needlessly get hurt.

          I’m offering my perspective based upon my ex-experiences but if evangelical Christianity is going to improve it needs to be willing to admit that its wrong and its mistakes. I would think many Christians would be disgusted to be a part of environments where people like Elijah or David or in this post Paul wouldn’t be accepted and would be driven out. Humility goes far. They Christian friends I still hang around with have at one point or another admitted their mistakes and been humble. I love them for that…it’s different than other situations I encountered. Most of the fundegelicals I knew would not or could not take such action. But if evangelical Christianity could learn from its criticism than perhaps it could be a loving, embracing environment. Until then I’ll keep discussing my doubts, problems with some Christians I know, read atheist and agnostic websites, and frequent agnostic gatherings here in the Washington, D.C. area. However, one important part about this blog is that in reading the comments by other posters (ie Rebekah, HUG, etc..) I realized that I am not the only one who has encountered a “scorched earth policy” from evangelicalism. That gives me comfort and also some hope that one day maybe down the road I can perhaps be a part of a Christian faith system again. We’ll see…..

        • Mike, you say the Monk was a better moderator and you don’t like criticism of evangelicals. Perchance have you read his book? He has a lot to say about evangelicals. Seems to me that Chaplain Mike and Jeff Dunn go easier on evangelicals than the Monk did. I think they do a good job.

          These things are all a matter of our perspective. Perhaps you are part of a very loving, Jesus-following evangelical group. Unfortunately, that experience has not been shared by many.

  2. I think pastors should not only be married, but have experience raising children. I don’t know why for some reason in America every pulpit must be as equal opportunity as bagging groceries. The family is the proving ground for pastoral leadership. The NT epistles explicitly require elders (and VERY few ecclesiologies deny that the pastor fulfills the office of elder) to have raised godly children and manage their household well, for if they cannot manage their own household, how rational is it to trust them to lead the congregation as a spiritual family? Paul admonishes men to stay single NOT so that they can shepherd, but so they can serve. While pastors do a ton of serving (more than their share, imo that’s why they burn out), the office of elder is for men with character and a proven track record to guide and lead a congregation. The pastorate is not an occupational option for those pursuing a career dream. It is a divine calling for specific people as laid out in scripture. Churches are not corporations and pastors are not hired guns. They are called of God to have a very defined role. To open the pastorate to whomever happens to desire the job in the name of anti-discrimination places American politically correct culture in authority over God’s word. Sure, Jesus was single. He was also the son of God. Are you?

    That being said, I have no problem with single men going into ministry. Yes, the deck is stacked against you. Consider learning a secular trade first, starting bi-vocationally, or working as an associate or youth pastor. Quit blaming it on those evil parishes out there who just want to satisfy their selfish need for a wise and experienced shepherd with the maturity of experience. It’s not that you don’t have anything to offer them. They have sane priorities. It’s not about culture-war family values, it’s about relational maturity. That comes with age and experience, not theological training.

    • There’s the benefit of the pastor having proved himself, sure. There’s also the flipside. The pastor’s priorities are split, and many will mess it up one way or another. All too often pastors end up devoting so much time to their ministry that their families get stifled. The proverbial rebellious pastor’s kid anyone? And really, the test here isn’t to see if the man has proved himself as a husband or father, but whether he can create the appearance of being good at those things.

      And a lot of the fears expressed in this article are silly.

      An affair, really? Homosexuality? Are either of these any less likely with married men? No.

      • The calling and qualification of pastors is a very complicated and difficult matter. Sure, married men are guilty. But world wide, married men are more respected as more likely to be stable. In Japan, you get a raise for getting married, and single men may have to wait on climbing the corporate ladder. Yes, fears are silly, but some of them come from experience. Bottom line, everyone you put in office is going to screw up. The problem is churches are looking for somebody perfect. A better approach is how can we be lead by an imperfect person?

        Oh, and the “proverbial rebellious pastor’s kid” – I understand the best parents can have rebels, but that one is always an indicator to me that the Pastor has poorly focused priorities and is more into pleasing people than loving them. Sorry if you’re the exception, too many bad experiences there.

        • But world wide, married men are more respected as more likely to be stable.

          I could probably find a statistic showing that those with an income of 75K or better are “more stable” by many measures at least. And this shows us exactly what ?? Again, I think we need to stick with the parameters that GOD has given us, and not “exceed what is written”. If the NT standards are more “free” than the surrounding culture, or grate against it, well then……

          • Greg I also think it depends upon profession as well. “More stable” careers can include finance, parts of government, law, marketing, etc.. But on the flip side there are many careers than can be view as not being “stable”. Examples include transportation industry, certain types of sales jobs (exept Pharmeauceutical sales) etc…

            That make sense?

      • Headless Unicorn Guy says

        All too often pastors end up devoting so much time to their ministry that their families get stifled. The proverbial rebellious pastor’s kid anyone?

        There are two archetypal ways a Preacher’s Kid can crack under that level of pressure to Always Be The Perfect Pastor’s Christian Child. Either they go into total “Take Your God And Shove It!” rebellion as soon as they’re out from under the parents’ and Church Ladies’ thumbs, or they go into complete Uber-Uber-Christian Conformity.

        Marilyn Manson or Fred Phelps.
        Sometimes whipsaw-alternating between one and the other.
        Nothing in-between.

    • WenatcheeTheHatchet says

      If the description in the pastoral epistles were an actual checklist how was Timotny qualified to assess pastoral candidates since he was not himself either married or a parent? Timothy was also, by the cultural measuer of the time, not even considered all that old but Paul told him to not let anyone look down on him because of his youth. Apparently Paul had to encourage Timothy a little to not be discouraged that the churchin Ephesus had some doubts about his qualifications due to his not being old enough or married enough. 🙂

      • > If the description in the pastoral epistles were an actual checklist how was Timothy qualified to assess pastoral candidates <

        The checklist in 1 Timothy chapter 3 is for deacons and overseers — not pastors. Those are different jobs. Perhaps people who use those verses to justify requiring married pastors aren't reading the text carefully enough.

        • “Pastors” as you describe them, separate from deacons and overseers, are not mentioned in scripture. The word for “pastor” only comes up in verb form in the NT. The assumption is that it is the responsibility of the elders (presbytros or episkopos, pardon sp.). The vast majority of Christian traditions consider the pastor (or priest) to be an elder, whether or not he is the sole one, part of a group, or answers to a super elder, the bishop. The checklists in the NT do apply to pastors and were given to protect the church, for it’s own good. Putting unqualified men in the pulpit is not a simple oversight; it has consequences. Look at the circus show that is evangelicalism today. Do you think we’re suffering from an over-abundance of qualified shepherds?

          • Miguel asks:

            > Do you think we’re suffering from an over-abundance of qualified shepherds? <

            I'm not sure if this question is directed at me or to everyone in general. For my part, I agree with you. I think there aren't enought really good pastors and leaders. I know that I and my overseas mission suffered under some very bad organizational leadership, and that my children have been dealt with rawly by some very bad church leaders here in the US. I support as much apt scrutiny as wise and devout Christians can apply. Nevertheless I am sympathetic to the OP because married or not married isn't the best way of determining qualification.

            I entered the fray about the verses in Timothy because I thought a couple of people were turning the meaning inside out, not because I feel strongly about married pastors. Finally, Ephesians 4 (the part about spiritual gifts) uses "pastor" as a noun in the version I read.

        • I Absolutely agree. “A man of one woman” is not a requirement to be married; fidelity is the issue – in thought and in action. Married pastors can be big flirts, too.

      • I understand Timothy was young, but keep in mind, late 30’s were young then. Mid 20’s is a totally different ball park. This may be totally obvious, but may be missing something here. Do we know for absolute certain that Timothy was both unmarried and a “pastor”? Paul addresses him as “dear son”, not elder. And if scripture does not intend to give us checklists to discern qualified men, do you really believe we are then free to ordain whoever we feel like?

        • WenatcheeTheHatchet says

          I think that what is obvious is that Timothy was appointed by Paul to appoint overseers and became first bishop of Ephesus despite not being married or a parent. The interpretation of the passage has to keep in mind that Timothy, in a checklist interpretation, was charged with appointing overseers on the basis of criteria for which he was not himself qualified. We can surmise that Timothy as bishop/overseer of Ephesus wasn’t qualified to actually be an elder but was tasked with appointing them anyway or we could factor in Timothy’s role as bishop and use the letters to Timothy as part of the evidence for why tradition describes Timothy as the first bishop of Ephesus. Timothy may have been unqualified if the real checklist criteria was marriage and parenting but surely two apostolic epistles attesting the man’s character counts for something even though Timothy wasn’t married or a parent, right? Just throwing that out as something you may have missed, Miguel. As Driscoll might suggest, don’t miss the big E on the eye chart. Yeah, it will be advisable to have a married pastor but by that measure a married candidate whose children have left the faith is probably less qualified than the unmarried man. Better an unmarried John Stott than a married Ted Haggard as I see someone else put it here already.

    • We have heaped on expectations of pastors over the centuries via (our interpretation of) scripture and dogma that are almost impossible to fulfill. As an RC, the expectation of celibacy on top of other giftedness has whittled down the candidates and produced some very unintended consequences. Many churches are now run by laity, and either the church rule on priestly celibacy will be changed or the church itself will fundamentally change in some other way from how we know it today.

      In my first experience at a non-denominational church, I was on the pastor selection committee (a very foreign concept for me). We expected the incarnation of Jesus Christ to walk in the door. Guess what? He did not, and we were very disappointed. No one knew the depths of the struggles that were going on in his life because of what was expected of him – and things fell apart.

      Most churches exclude Those With The Dreaded XX Chromosomes from the pastorate. This leaves 50% of the population. If you exclude those with any sort of family problem, those with wives who do not play piano and smile adoringly at their husband from the first row, single men, young men, and general sinners, you are left with only a few. And for those, we are all just waiting in the pews for them to make a doctrinal mistake or to have misbehaved children to go on the hunt for the next hopefully perfect person to lead us.

      Miguel, the more I live, the more I stand in absolute amazement of grace. That not only includes God’s grace, but our reflection of God’s grace here on earth with one another. I recognize the absolute necessity of God’s call, scriptural and doctrinal knowledge and giftedness for fulfilling the role of a pastor. But my heart goes out to pastors, and I think we could all be a little more pastoral in our caring for them versus putting them into a very small box in which no one can fit.

      • Headless Unicorn Guy says

        We have heaped on expectations of pastors over the centuries via (our interpretation of) scripture and dogma that are almost impossible to fulfill.

        Expectations so high even Christ Himself couldn’t measure up…

        • For one, they’d have problems with Him being single. Some folks would object to the beard, or to His tendency toward more stories and less Scripture in His sermons. And when they found out about some of the people He hung out with … “don’t call us, Mr. Ben-Yusef, we’ll call you.”

      • I couldn’t agree more that pastors are usually victimized by ridiculous expectations placed upon them by the laity. I’ve seen it firsthand way to many times, and I’ve taken my share of licks as a church staff member. Here’s the problem: Pain is caused by the expectations that WE place on ministers. God’s expectations never hurt the church, but actually protect her! When we ignore God’s expectations, not only do we belittle His word, but we will ALWAYS replace it with expectations of our own. God’s law guides the believer into the perfect freedom that is ours in Christ. Our laws place us under the bondage and slavery of self-centered priorities. The problem is, we look at what God requires of pastors, decide we don’t like it, and find a way to rationalize. The box that God creates for pastors is really so much larger than the ones we create with all our false expectations. God’s box leaves room for a person to make mistakes and provides a structure of accountability to support them. The churches who’s expectations on their pastor would exclude Jesus are NOT taking them from scripture. Likewise, the churches who have seemingly “lower standards” (women, homosexuals, muslims, all accepted because we don’t want to discriminate) though they do tend to be nicer to their pastors, but throwing out God’s instructions only seems to make things easier and simpler.
        “Grace at a low cost, is in the last resort simply a new law, which brings neither help nor freedom.” – Bonhoeffer

        • I would reply to the above: show me where it is GOD’s expectation (as in requirement) that a pastor be married. Certainly many, the great majority, certainly were. But is that a divine must have, or something else ?? Another way of approaching this: which of GOD’s standards are lowered by allowing a single pastor ?? How is that going astray from HIS given ecclesiology ?

    • Miguel, I have no problem with saying it is good for pastors to be married, I might even go so far as to say a majority of them should be. I do not think the NT requires it, nor do I think it is good for the church to be so nuclear-family oriented.

      • I don’t think you are so much against family orientation as you are against excluding people who don’t fall so neatly into that category. The church absolutely needs to be more intentional about including all people, but inclusion does not extend to pastoral leadership. Obviously, all sin. But there is such a thing as growing in grace, and those who lead ought to know something about it. Scripture is much more exclusive when it comes to those who teach than is is for those who receive forgiveness. Grace is for everyone, and a free gift. Preaching is for a select few, and a sober responsibility. Can single men lead effectively? Certainly, and they do. But listen, I’m in my mid 20’s and in full time ministry, and I wish to God that somebody had talked me out of it until I was older and had established myself in the secular world. It would have been an infinitely more emotionally, spiritually, and financially healthy route for me to have taken, and it pains me to see all these kids running off to seminary hoping to be the next Mark Driscoll. Some make it work, and then we assume that it’s the God ordained model. We are not suffering from being overly-legalistic about who can and cannot be in pastoral ministry. On the contrary, our pulpits are way too open, so people are getting suckered in and crushed.

        • ” I’m in my mid 20′s and in full time ministry, and I wish to God that somebody had talked me out of it until I was older and had established myself in the secular world.”

          Agreed, but what does this have to do with being married?

          • I suppose I’m assuming here that unmarried usually goes with being young. Older unmarried men are a different ball game, I’m sure, but it seems to me that they’re not the majority of single job seekers in the church world. I’m not really sure what the Bible says about those committed to a life of celibacy pursuing the ordained ministry. Obviously the RCC has no problem with it, so I suppose there has to be at least some biblical grounds for it. I’ve just been under too many married pastors with unruly families whose churches reflected that kind of leadership. I want to see a man whose wife and kids love and respect him. That’s a guy I want teaching, leading, and mentoring me. Maybe older single guys would do a better job. I suppose it proves the point of this post that I’ve never been in a church lead by one.

        • Miguel I don’t have time to answer specifically at this moment, but I do have substantial disagreements with the perspective you have offered. More later…

      • One of the problems with having a church so nuclear family oriented is that it hurts many people…

        -Divorces
        -Single adults
        -Widows
        -Struggling gays
        -Married couples who can’t conceive

        Well you get the picture, but the culture heaps praises and communicates that you must be married and have kids. Anything less is almost “UnChristian”

    • Does I Timothy 3 really say that an elder or deacon MUST be married?

      I spent my first four years in ministry as a single pastor, and felt an enormous pressure to get married, even though I wasn’t even dating anyone at the time! I was volunteer staff at a very large church, one of the few ministry leaders who wasn’t married. I was told over and over how much more credibility I would have, how much more I could do for the kingdom, etc., etc., if only I were married.

      In the midst of all this, the pastor whose title was something along the lines of “church business administrator” was found to have been conducting an affair with a married woman from the church. The affair had been known about by leadership for at least two years before it was addressed. He was a dad, married for twenty + years. The next “church business administrator”, another dad/pastor who had been married for twenty + years, embezzled about $60,000 in his first year on the job.

      The point Paul was trying to get across in I Timothy 3 was not that elders and deacons are required to be married…It’s that they must manage their affairs with integrity, honesty, gentleness, patience, love, and character. Marriage doesn’t create credibility…character creates credibility.

      I’m married now, and working toward planting a church. It’s difficult. As a single person working in youth and college ministry, I was able to start and oversee leadership development programs in six different high schools, lead a small group, disciple students, counsel families, etc, etc., without care for time or money. As a married pastor, I have to balance time and resources much more carefully…there’s no way I could do what I did ten years ago as a single pastor! By the way, I was bi-vocational as a single man, and continue to be bi-vocational as a married pastor.

      I’ve had opportunity over the years to mentor young men and women coming up in ministry, many of them single. Marriage is often a topic of conversation, and I’ve seen some excellent individuals passed over for positions because they were single. I’ve also seen other married pastors misuse money, commit adultery, abuse children, and make a mockery of church discipline. Again, being married doesn’t create credibility…character creates credibility. Single pastors can be excellent in every aspect of ministry, as long as they have a good system of accountability, a solid knowledge base, and a heart that truly desires to serve God, and not their own desires.

      CM pointed out that John Stott is a single pastor. I’ll take a single John Stott or Henri Nouwen or over a married Ted Haggard, Jim Bakker, Jimmy Swaggart, or even Pat Robertson any day of the week!

      • > The point Paul was trying to get across in I Timothy 3 was not that elders and deacons are required to be married <

        Just a minute! You can make a good argument for unmarried church leaders from common sense or experience or present-day circumstances. But you shouldn't try to use Paul's letter to Timothy to justify your position. The words he wrote to Timothy say a deacon or elder should be "the husband of one wife" as well as the other good qualifications you specify.

        He clearly is saying deacons and elders should be married. Perhaps his advice applies uniquely to Ephesus and not to today. Perhaps you can make a case to disregard Paul's rules. But you can't claim "husband of one wife" means "husband of no wife." Can you?

        • Sorry Andy, but now YOU’RE the one reading into the text. Cultural expectations of the day were that men WOULD be married, not SHOULD be married, and that they SHOULD have only ONE WIFE! THAT is what the point of that passage is…monogamy for leaders.

          • Isaac (the poster formerly known as Obed) says

            The Greek in that text is one of the weirdest in all of Scripture. Literally, it says something more along the lines of “one-woman-man.” Variously throughout church history it’s been interpreted as saying a bunch of things. Examples include: never divorced, not married to multiple people, not single, never remarried if a widow, a faithful spouse . . .

            IMO, this is one of those passages that MUST be interpreted in light of what the rest of Scripture has to say. Basing one’s position on clerical marriage on this passage alone is highly problematic.

          • Yes, I accept this. I’ll take back the two sentences in which I construe Paul to prescribe marriage.

            But still, “husband of one wife” cannot mean “husband of no wife.” Paul’s rules for Ephesus might bind us or they might not. it is a fair question whether his rule applies to first-century Asian Christian church fellowships, or to Christian church fellowships of all kinds.

            But we mustn’t use Paul’s words to justify doing something different. If he is mute on the subject of single deacons and elders because he assumes they will all be married, we can’t assume he approves single deacons and elders.

          • I have to agree with Oscar here…I’ve heard this passage discussed by even the most fundamentalist of pastors, and the consensus is that Paul did not intend that elders and deacons HAD to be married; Paul’s emphasis was not even that a deacon or elder could only have been married once (if a spouse has died, or there were Biblically justified reasons for divorce, one can still be eligible to be a deacon or elder).. Remember the people that Paul is addressing during his ministry…some were polygamous, some had experienced worship of other gods that included temple prostitutes as the norm, and Paul used his letters to address orgies and sexual promiscuity several times.

            The text does not say “must have one wife”. Paul is saying that IF you are married, your affection, love, and dedication should be toward one woman. No adultery, no pornography, no flirting with someone who isn’t your spouse, no whoring about with temple prostitutes, etc.

            If you believe that the text reads that a deacon or elder MUST be married, are you saying that John Stott, or the person who ordained him, is apostate? If we follow the logic proposed by Andy Z and Miguel, then I guess that also means that there is no Biblical precedent for a deaconess, since I Timothy 3 only lists the qualifications for a man in ministry. So, let’s just throw Phoebe and Romans 16 out of the Bible, along with Tabitha, who is called a disciple and is clearly fulfilling the roles of a deacon in Acts 9:36, while we’re moving this direction.

            CM, you might have to moderate me today! :o)

            Please know that I was not just pulling scripture out of context, and attempting to apply a current cultural norm to it. When one is examining scripture, one must always consider four questions…
            1) Who is the messenger?
            2) Who is receiving the message?
            3) What is the message?
            4) What is the context in which the message is being delivered and received?

          • Isaac (the poster formerly known as Obed) says

            But still, “husband of one wife” cannot mean “husband of no wife.”

            The problem is that the phrase mias gunaikos andra doesn’t necessarily mean “husband of one wife. It literally says “of one woman, a man,” which makes very little sense on its own. Like I said, it’s totally weird in the Greek. Here are various ways it’s been translated:

            “faithful to his wife”
            “husband of one wife”
            “committed to his wife”
            “married only once”
            “a one-woman man”

            It seems to me that this is conditional, not prescriptive. I.e. it’s not focusing on whether or not the person is married, but whether he’s faithful in his marriage. In fact, for Paul, a single man, to make singleness a barrier to leadership would be totally silly. In fact, he says that it’s good to be single. He didn’t say that it’s good to be single with the caveat that it’s bad for leaders.

      • Wow. Thanks for sharing your experience, it sounds like you’ve been through the ringer. I’m not even going to look up Timothy, because I can already tell you: I don’t know. The Bible is painfully difficult to interpret consistently on matters of ecclesiology. However, it pains me that in our culture practical ecclesiology trumps biblical ecclesiology every day of the week. I don’t think that’s spiritually healthy or that it demonstrates humble submission to the will of God. It sounds like your track record is highly exemplary for young men working in ministry. I sympathize with the fraud that has been committed against your congregations by married ministers. Marital status has no effect on whether or not one sins. The appeal to Stott resonates strongly with me. There is a man I highly respect, but more for his writings than his pastoring. I agree he is preferable to Haggard. I suppose my real concern is not just with the marital status of pastors. I also think they should be sober minded, diligent, have integrity, and be well studied in the scriptures. The thing that just grinds my gears is when somebody offers what the believe to be a biblical description of ministerial qualifications, and is objected to on the grounds of “that doesn’t work in my experience.” Usually it actually would, but what’s really being said is, “I don’t want to do it that way, it cramps my style.” It bothers me to see that attitude in pastors.

        • @ Miguel; I agree with 95% or better of your replies, BUT….major in the majors, brother, and the simple fact is that “biblical ecclesiology” does not REQUIRE being married, and if you think it does, then good luck with making any kind of sense with 1Cor7. Major in character, integrity, and calling. Does the married candidate fit these (and that churches environment, etc..) great. Does the single candidate’s calling and character find acceptance with GOD and men ?? Another good choice.

          We do damage to the WORD and GOD”s plans by running on cultural excpetation and adding to what GOD has required , IMO.

          GregR

          • Good words, Greg

          • Good thoughts! I’ve heard it said that wisdom is the art of knowing what to ignore (i.e., what is most important gets the focus). However, I have a hard time believing that pastors being married is going to dominate culture much longer. The trend is toward pulpits being open to whomever wants to fill them. I don’t know if the Bible requires men to be married. Honestly, I am frustrated by the vagueness of scripture on church polity and related issues. But the character issues do stand out as crucial and non-negotiable, while other issues such as gender and marital status may be more a question of “bene ese.”

        • I believe that pastors should be “sober minded, diligent, have integrity, and be well studied in the scriptures”, as well. These should be goals that all believers, not just pastors, strive for (see The Didache, along with just about everything Paul wrote…).

          Count yourself fortunate to be full-time in ministry in your mid-twenties. A friend and I sometimes discuss the new denomination we find ourselves working within in our 40’s, working on church plants, surrounded by truly wonderful, Godly pastors in our new denomination…pastors that seems to have no idea the time, effort, and dedication required to be bi-vocational. It’s a hard row to hoe, as my grandfather used to say, but we do what we do because we love God, and we love people…not for a salary.

          There are some areas of scripture that are very clear on ecclesiology, but for the fine details, we have to look at church tradition. I don’t know where you went to seminary, or what denomination you find yourself affiliated with, but I would suggest you look at what the historic definitions of order, structure, and episcopal oversight were during the first three-five centuries of Christianity. Don’t fear the guys in funny hats and black cassocks. Everything they devised in the name of God isn’t all bad.

          Enjoyed the rapport today.

          Peace+

          • Let me rephrase that…some of whom have no idea the dedication required to be a bi-vocational pastor. My own mentor is a wonderful pastor, who has enjoyed the ups and downs in ministry, and was bi-vocational until just recently. I apologize for the broad generalization. Shame on me…

          • @ Miguel
            I am frustrated by the vagueness of scripture on church polity and related issues..

            the older you get, the more you will see the genius of this; this gets at Chap Mike’s post on scripture not directly addressing many issues, this only surprises us when we expect something something else. GOD knows what to make a big deal.

      • It’s a little unfair to label Pat Robertson in with those other fellows. Whatever other issues he may have, there is no evidence he has ever been unfaithful to his wife.

        • You’re correct, Bill. I didn’t intend to categorize Robertson as an adulterer, but as a married pastor…one whom I would still choose a single Stott or Nouwen ahead of.

      • I live in Virginia I’ll take anyone over Pat Robetson (or that other school in Lynchberg!!!!) 😛 I’ve had to live with having him as my “spokesman” for years!!!!

    • Mike (the other chaplain) says

      Well said!

  3. Over the years I have had several friends who were pastors (not my pastor) who told me that they rushed into finding someone to marry so they could get a church. Many years later they were still married, unhappily, although they put on a good front for the church folks, who wanted pastors with happy, smiling faces and happy, smiling wives and children. This is the pretend world of “Father Knows Best” and “Leave it to Beaver”. Maybe some people suspect that all is not rosy, and maybe some people get the idea that pretending is the way to live and follow their model.

    “Sometimes, parishioners have an unspoken preference for a happily married male with a wife who does not work outside the home,” Cynthia Woolever, research director at U.S. Congregations, wrote in a 2009 article. “She also volunteers at the church while raising ‘wholesome and polite children.’” Undoubtedly someone knows of such a family, but I suspect this is largely fantasy. Sounds very 50’s evangelicalism. No wonder so many guys are leaving the pastorate and running for the hills.

    • Headless Unicorn Guy says

      “Sometimes, parishioners have an unspoken preference for a happily married male with a wife who does not work outside the home,” Cynthia Woolever, research director at U.S. Congregations, wrote in a 2009 article. “She also volunteers at the church while raising ‘wholesome and polite children.’” Undoubtedly someone knows of such a family, but I suspect this is largely fantasy. Sounds very 50′s evangelicalism.

      Sounds Stepford Wives to me. “Just like Stepford Wives, Except CHRISTIAN(TM)!”

      And not “50s Evangelicalism”. Not the REAL 1950s, but the Mythic Fifties filtered through Ozzie, Harriet, and Donna Reed. (My writing partner has shown me some real horror pics of a Christian school — all the boys in crewcuts and neckties, all the girls in long skirted-versions of 1950 Movie wear. The pic was taken in the 2000s.)

      No wonder so many guys are leaving the pastorate and running for the hills.

      My writing partner has been trying to “run for the hills” since I met him in 2001. You want to see a miracle? His three sons are still believers. (But they want NOTHING to do with Ministry(TM), not after seeing what it did to their dad.)

      • Smart kids.

      • The 50’s are so romanticized by fundegelicals. In the process they forget all the ugly stuff that took place… Ie racial segregation, women treated horribly, domestic abuse downplated, etc.. Who wants to go back to those “glorious days…” (rolls eyes….)

        • seeing the middle aged wife sitting quaintly passive, and off to the side, while hubby pontificated behind the pulpit was one of those things that gave me the creeps when i first became exposed to evangelicalism. it is like a freaky time warp to the nonexistent past of another universe.

          • Headless Unicorn Guy says

            I think I can top that, Dennis.

            My writing partner (the burned-out preacher-man) once showed me a pic of a Christian School’s student body, taken recently (as in 21st Century). The students were ALL dressed 1950s According to Ozzie & Harriet — shiny-eyed boys in crewcuts, white shirts, and neckties; apple-cheeked girls in full-coverage Fifties fashion with longer skirts. The only way you could tell it wasn’t Real 1950s vintage was the skirts on the girls were longer than accurate and the girls’ hairstyles were plainer.

            My crack was “If they’re trying to live back in the 1950s, how come nobody’s smoking or chugging cocktails?” Tobacco use in America was at its all-time peak in the Forties and Fifties, and alcoholic mixed drinks had become so common since Prohibition that Beam Piper’s Fifties-vintage SF retained only one religious ritual in its otherwise-atheistic Far Future — “Cocktail Hour”, observed as faithfullly as Islamic daily prayers.

        • Agreed, Eagle — as I’ve mentioned before, it’s only Caucasian Christians who long for the Eisenhower era, never black or Hispanic Christians. (Not that it’s necessarily a racist view, just an extreeeeeemely myopic one.)

          • Headless Unicorn Guy says

            Speaking as an aficionado of the Nifty Fifties, they’re not longing for the REAL “Eisenhower Era”. Their “Godly Golden Age” is a MYTHOLOGICAL 1950s, filtered through the lens of Ozzie, Harriet, and Donna Reed. And bears about as much resemblance to the REAL 1950s as Hopalong Cassidy does to Deadwood.

      • Replying to Headless Unicorn Guy: Yes, I was thinking that the fantasy sounds very much like the “fantasy” of 50’s evangelicalism. I grew up in a church that was part of a fundygelical (in those days we called the denominational hardliners fundy mentalists) denomination, but our little bunch pretty much ignored the craziness and did our own thing, much to the consternation of the denomination. I suppose we didn’t get kicked out of the denomination because of who the pastor was related to.

        When I went to the denomination’s college, I experienced major religious culture shock. I worked for the college part time and knew a lot of what went on behind the scenes, most of which the college and denomination now deny. Some of the stories are so wild that I doubt most people on this site would even believe them. Lots of the stories are related to the extreme lengths the college went to in order to try to prevent the students from having sex, which just seemed to encourage the kids to find a way. The college was afraid the parents would pull their kids out of school and that donations to the school would dry up.

    • Headless Unicorn Guy says

      Over the years I have had several friends who were pastors (not my pastor) who told me that they rushed into finding someone to marry so they could get a church.

      “Married” is just Christianese for “getting laid”. That’s what it’s become nowadays. Think about it — “You’re not REALLY adult unless you’re married/popped your cherry.”

      Many years later they were still married, unhappily, although they put on a good front for the church folks, who wanted pastors with happy, smiling faces and happy, smiling wives and children.

      Happy Clappy Christian (TM) Marriages with Spiritual Trophy Wife and Shiny-faced Christian (TM) kids. Put on the Stimpy Happy Helmets and Smile Smile Smile!

      This is the pretend world of “Father Knows Best” and “Leave it to Beaver”.

      Not “Father Knows Best.” — “Ozzie and Harriet.”

      Of the Fifties Perfect Family Sitcoms, FKB was always better written and felt a bit more “real” than all the others. As a teen, I liked FKB when it still showed in syndication during the 1960s. I never could stomach any of the others, period.

      I understand FKB originated as a didactic “how to” in childrearing, intended for families displaced by the increased mobility during and after WW2 who were now separated from older family who could have mentored them with their kids.

      • WenatcheeTheHatchet says

        Yes, this “you’re not a real adult unless you’re married” is something I’ve seen a lot of. An unmarried person doesn’t know anything about “relationships” (i.e. not just dating/marriage but potentially just about any other form of human experience). No sooner has the previously ignorant unmarried male found the right woman, said the magic words, and waved his magic wand then he is qualified to speak with wisdom and authority about all of human experience, most especially if he has children.

        To be fair I’m at an evangelical church now that doesn’t have that problem. When a couple of my friends at the church heard the name Josh Harris they rolled their eyes and I knew I had landed at the right church. 🙂

        • I’d be curious to know if Josh Harris were still single to this day, would he have written those books and propagated those teachings?

      • HUG…if I posted the actual story here I fear that my days at IM will be numbered. But there’s a funny article in the Onion that deals with what you are wriitng about. Go to The Onion

        And search for Matthew Leske. 🙂

        BTW… I do agree with what you are saying about what “marriage” means in Christianese. Whether it be that or Joshua Harris lectruing on dating. It’s like history….the winners of war define and explain history. So to do the Josh Harris, etc.. do for the church.

        • Found the Onion article. Actually, I think IM may be the one place in the evangewhateverical blogosphere where you WOULDN’T get chucked out on your ear. Any place else — as Creedence Clearwater once sang, “gone, gone, gone, gone, gone …” 😀

        • brilliantvapor says

          I feel like such a teenager for snickering wildly through that article.

          • Headless Unicorn Guy says

            That’s because just like South Park when it hits the target cold, It’s Funny Because It’s True. Or at least true enough that you’ve seen RL versions of it.

            Though anyone who’s name really IS Matthew Leske — I would not want to be him right now. Not after that Onion article.

            Other examples of “Married is Christianese for getting laid”:

            1) Marriage-crazy girls going to Bible College for their MRS degree — “A ring by Spring or It’s Too Late.” (i.e. RL female versions of the guy in the Onion article!) How does this differ from boy-crazy girls trying to get their cherries popped to prove they’re grown up or because “everybody else’s doing it”?

            2) The guy at Cerulean Sanctum related once about a Bible college local to him, during the Edgar Weisenhaunt Rapture Scare of 1988. He claimed most to all of the student body got married en masse that year to beat Weisenhaunt’s date (and wondered how many of those marriages lasted). How does that differ from “It’s The End Of The World! We’re All Gonna Die! I Don’t Wanna Die a Virgin!”?

            3) And from personal experience, a speaker at a Christian Singles event going on and on about how looks, personality, common interests and personality traits, nurturing, bonding, none of that matters in a Christian Marriage. The only thing you should be looking for in a spouse is Perfectly Parsed, Utterly Correct Theology. Nothing Else.

            Add all the above together and I think we can also postulate a theory as to why the Christian divorce rate is so high.

      • Reply to Headless Unicorn Guy: We never watched Ozzie & Harriet. My dad thought it was ridiculous and preferred something that came on at the same time on another channel. I think I saw it once (or twice?) and just remember thinking it was very strange. “Leave it to Beaver” came on when my dad was at work. We occasionally watched FKB. My dad thought these were all “make believe” families and that no one lived like that, and that is what I’ve always thought.

        To the point of Chaplain Mike’s post: Some people want pretty houses and a pretty church to match. Since our families are less than perfect, let’s get a pretty pastor with a pretty wife & kids who are pretty perfect. This is how we decorate our lives with pretty religion. We’ll decide what constitutes a pretty pastor and try to find something or the other in the Bible that seems to say something to support what we want.

  4. This is just symptomatic of the way singles are treated in churches generally. As a single I have only recently found a church that really doesn’t care about my marital status. I suspect that it is because we are a church of misfits that ‘don’t belong’ elsewhere.

    Churches (and Christians) that obsess about the marital status of anyone have always struck me as Churches and (Christians) living with fear. They fear that they might be influenced to sin (instead of influenced to love) or that their relationships will be compromised by the potential of their partner having friendships outside of their relationship (‘If my wife is friends with a single woman she might doubt her commitment to me’ OR the ever popular comment ” I cant let my husband/wife talk to a single male/female because they might leave me).

    Christ paid a high price to bring us before God whole as equals, why does his Bride spend so much time and effort dividing and breaking us?

    I dont get it personally, but I suggest that anyone wanting to minister who finds themselves in this situation, with doors closed in their face because of this, go and find a church with some Christians who love Christ or a church where they want to actually follow Christ, not prescribe Him. Even better, go and show Christ to those who don’t know Him yet. They will be happy for the love and so will Christ.

    • Headless Unicorn Guy says

      ” I cant let my husband/wife talk to a single male/female because they might leave me.”

      At which point, there is a simple solution (at least for the husband talkiing about his wife and single males): Sew her into a burqa and lock her in a harem.

      Because THAT is the exact rationale X-Treme Islam cites to explain their treatment of women. The Original IMonk said once that “A lot of the Christian Courtship Movement would not be out of place in Medieval Islam” and I’ve long maintained that when Christianity goes sour, it curdles into something resembling Islam. (Onward, Forward, Toward coined the term “Christlam” for this attitude.)

  5. I agree that this is a shame. I have seen this many times. The pastor at my church back home is single, and I think has suffered some loss of the congregation’s–what? respect? I’m not sure. In any case, it can be certain that he is treated much differently than his predecessor, who was married with three children.

    I will say, however (and you all are more than welcome to disagree with me, as I’m sure you will), that part of this suspicion of the single pastor (especially of older single pastors) in this day and age stems from our cultural homophobia. If a pastor is 50 years old and single, the congregation might begin to suspect him of being gay.

    With younger single male pastors, however, it can likely be chalked up to inexperience. “What? You’re not married with kids and you’re already 30 years old? You obviously must not have your act together.”

    In any case, Chaplain Mike, your assertion that Paul suggests it best not to marry is accurate. I have many friends (who are now getting older) who made vows never to marry, specifically because they wanted to devote their lives to the ministry of Jesus rather than be distracted by the worldly concerns of a wife and family (this seems to be the main conflict with Jesus in Nikos Kazantzakis’s “The Last Temptation of Christ”). And I believe they will do just fine on their own. Though this lifestyle is not for me–I’m already married and settled down, and I’m only 23–I respect my friends for their decision to remain single. They are much holier than myself.

    • Single pastors? Two words: John Stott.

      • WenatcheeTheHatchet says

        True (a favorite of mine) but part of the gist of the article would be that not even John Stott could get a job at an American church and he’s turning 90 this year. I would like to know which married American evangelical pastors have done as much as Stott has. 🙂

      • Clay Knick says

        Yes, Stott!

    • ahumanoid says

      “If a pastor is 50 years old and single, the congregation might begin to suspect him of being gay.”

      SO? If he’s living a celibate life why does that even matter??

      • If it’s a fundamentalist church, it would matter a great deal. Even a celibate gay pastor would probably be kicked to the curb so fast he wouldn’t know what hit him.

        • Don’t forget marriage for many fundegelicals is the idol. The celibate gay or the gay trying but having difficulty would be out of some churches faster than spit out a trumpet!! That’s sad, sad, sad…..

      • Not only do I not have a problem with celibate gay pastors, I don’t have a problem with married gay pastors (as rare as the are!).

        The truth is, ahumanoid, it doesn’t matter at all. But try telling that to most evangelical churches (fundamentalists aren’t the only people uncomfortable with the notion of gay pastors).

        The sadness is that the church would hang up on a little thing like the possibility of a single pastor being gay, and completely disregard the spiritual value of the person. “It doesn’t matter that he’s a darn good preacher and pastor. He *might* be gay because he’s single, so something must be wrong with him…”

        • ahumanoid says

          “The sadness is that the church would hang up on a little thing like the possibility of a single pastor being gay, and completely disregard the spiritual value of the person. ”

          Very true…and sad.

      • brilliantvapor says

        This is, I believe, I very good and totally neglected point.

  6. just goes to show, that the north american fundegelical empire has more to do with nostalgic americana than it does the Gospel.

    sad indeed, but not really that surprised.

    • Headless Unicorn Guy says

      The Fifties as Perfect Godly Golden Age.

      Just as in the Fifties, they looked back to the 19th Century (before the Depression sandwiched by the World Wars) as a Perfect Godly Golden Age.

      Just as Victorians looked back to Medieval times as a Perfect Golden Age.

      (My snark on the latest Godly Golden Age was “If they’re trying to live in the Fifties, why isn’t anyone smoking or chugging down cocktails?” The 1930s through early 1960s was the all-time peak of tobacco use in America. And alcoholic mixed drinks were so common from Prohibition on that in Beam Piper’s far-future SF, “Cocktail Hour” was the only remaining religious ritual in an otherwise-atheist future, adhered to like Islamic daily prayers.)

  7. In addition, our culture looks at males who are alone with a bit of fear. Is he safe? Has he been tamed? I’ve spoken with a wonderful children’s minister who knows he has lost job opportunities because he was a “he.” I’ve had parents (more than you might imagine) need reassuring in schools I’ve been a part of when their child’s teacher was a male. I imagine this is a piece of the puzzle.

  8. Get a job that supports your needs and necessities, begin sharing the Gospel with the unchurched and unsaved, start meetings in homes, and grow a fellowship. As their pastor, those who come to or get grounded in Jesus through your outreach won’t care if you’re married or not.

    • Preach it!

    • @eric:

      ‘ begin sharing the Gospel with the unchurched and unsaved ‘

      i would go one step further and say that the “churched” need to hear the gospel as well! perhaps more so!

      • Sure. Go to your local neighborhood brick-and-mortar church on a Sunday and stand up to speak and preach the Gospel per 1 Corinthians 14:26-33 and see what happens. Watch the Spirit fall and repentance break out, get dragged to a cliff to be thrown over it (perhaps by the pastor himself/herself?), etc. Praise God! 😀

    • Oh yeah…..what EricW said; Triple amen: and I’ve seen BOTH married and unmarried believers (ummmmm, let’s call them PAT) walk this path successfully.

  9. The Church is dying to Pragmatism, convenience, & “family values”.
    The Church is not radical in it’s belief in what the Gospel can do or where it can do it.
    It limits Jesus to an “Americana Model” – we do not want an unsafe Jesus – but an unsafe Jesus is all there is. This Jesus of the suburbs does not exist in scripture or reality.
    I am just as guilty of wanting this imaginary safe Jesus – as everyone else.
    Singleness is radical, unselfish, & scriptural. Our fears are what ignores this.

  10. Clay Knick says

    One of our bishops said, as he looked out over all the pastors gathered in the clergy session of our Annual Conference, that churches want a man in his forties, with experience, a wife, and two or three children. “That’s not what I see when I stand here looking at you.” It isn’t only single pastors that have difficulties it is women pastors, “older” pastors (don’t know how old one has to be), pastors who have children who have left home (like they don’t know anything about parenting!), and I’m sure there are more. There is a difference between what churches want and what they need.

  11. David Cornwell says

    Many churches want to own the family as well as hire the pastor. The man’s wife and children are seen as part of a package deal. They are forced into a public lifestyle that really doesn’t suit everyone. All children, for instance, are different. Some refuse to be forced into the specific mold required by the church and sometimes by the father as well. This sets the stage for criticism from the word go. Also wives are expected to have talents that they can also use, almost at will.

    During my years as a pastor, and even now after retirement, I can point out instance after instance where this gold standard of pastoral leadership has fallen down and broken itself all over the church floor. Male pastors, under the load of these expectations can have many things go wrong. Some become abusers of those they love. A child entering the teen years can become seriously at risk for abuse as the father attempts to exert Godly control. Wives, in turn, are sometimes abused. verbally or physically.

    Churches watch every move of a pastor’s family. They can become finger pointing accusers over any family related issues. And they are very slow to forgive.

    Marriages also fall apart, sometimes seemingly suddenly. Usually, however, this has only later forced itself to the surface when an affair is revealed, a wife walks out and makes a big noise doing it, a man’s homosexuality is revealed, or a child does something that cannot be hidden. But don’t worry, someone will surely come a long with a copy of the revealed way of doing things according to James Dobson.

    I could go on and on, telling the stories of various instances. But I have no desire to step on those who’s lives have become so damaged.

    Sure, the single person is at risk also. The child abuse cases of the Roman Catholic churches are an example.

    We will be better off when we recognize that in our humanity, we are all sinners and broken. As I look back at my life I can see where things may have been different if I were single. But I do not regret my choice to marry the person I love, to have children, and now to enjoy grandchildren. Wait until you are a grandparent. Your perspective will begin to change as you see life in a different light. Or at least, I hope it does. Maybe churches should just limit their search for a perfect pastor to those age 65 and up.

    • Thanks, David, for the thoughtful response to the issue. As a pastor, I consider myself to be little more than a broken vessel, useful only in the hands of Jesus. The lack of forgiveness churches or Christians offer to their own can be disturbing and astonishing, indeed.

    • Dan Allison says

      Churches are looking to get two employees for one salary. The pastor’s wife who has her own career outside minstry is rare as can be.

  12. The Christian Taliban strikes again mullah mohler and no doubt piper will call for beheadings once again

    Rawhider

  13. Dan Allison says

    With its bourgeois, upper-middle-class “success” values, American evangelical churches have a really difficult time dealing with anyone – lay or clergy — who doesn’t fit the preferred demographic. Our modernist concept of “family” tends far more to be sentimental and Victorian rather than Biblical. Just another reason I walked out of the churches — although I’m certain that I followed Jesus out the door.

  14. It’s not just Evangelicals or indeed a recent pheonomenon; 19th century English clergymen also found it difficult to be taken on if they were single.

    This seems to be for two reasons: (1) a single man might be a ‘confirmed bachelor’ (i.e., gay) or even worse (2) this might be a symptom of creeping Romanism (celibate clergy, oh noes!) Though what with the whole controversy over Ritualism and the Oxford Movement, paranoia about secret Anglo-Catholicism was probably rather more justified at the time.

    But yes, I think that this is a hold-over from the early days of the Reformation; a married pastor then was pretty firmly nailing his colours to the mast about where his allegiance lay, and after a couple of centuries of this, the natural expectation (and indeed preference) of a congregation was that the pastor would be a married man. (For the change in attitudes during the early Reformation, see the jokes about Archbishop Cranmer keeping his second wife, Margaret – niece of the German Lutheran Andreas Osiander – in a box: he married her while visiting Germany and still technically a Roman Catholic priest; he apparently kept his wife and children in prudent seclusion in England and – when clerical celibacy was re-affirmed for a short period in Henry’s reign – sent them abroad to Germany. All this secrecy meant that yes, people made jokes about him keeping his wife in a box).

    • Not just in England. I don’t recall the man’s name, but one of the first American missionaries to India (1830s, methinks) ran into a roadblock with his denomination: they refused to allow him to go overseas unless he had a wife. He got married just so the elders would release him to pursue his calling. (Thankfully he quickly found a woman just as devoted to God and missions-minded as he was. But you can just imagine the disaster such a policy could cause …)

    • Paging Jane Austen…

  15. Matthew 19:12 – “Some are incapable of marriage because they were born so; some, because they were made so by others; some, because they have renounced marriage for the sake of the kingdom of heaven. Whoever can accept this ought to accept it.”

    What Jesus said there might be relevant to this discussion.

  16. Headless Unicorn Guy says

    I find this a real kicker, coming from a Church who takes a lot of flak for NOT ordaining married men.

    • Seriously. And how many times have we heard reasoning for a celibate priesthood include the fact that priests are free from the stresses of married life and can devote more of their time to their flocks.

  17. As a pastor who is happily married with 5 children (who are not always polite and well behaved) I would say that there are many days when I wish I was either a pastor, or married with children. There are too many times when my family suffers because of my church commitments. On the other hand, I know that God called me be a pastor at this point in my life, knowing that I was married with children, so God will provide the grace that both I and my family need to deal with the difficulties. My kids may turn out to be complete rebels in spite of our best efforts to raise them to love Jesus. I need to be faithful to what God calls me to, and trust God to look after my kids.

    There may be good reasons for a church to not consider an unmarried pastor, but I disagree that the Bible states marriage as a prerequisite for pastoral ministry.

    • “I need to be faithful to what God calls me to, and trust God to look after my kids.”

      Um, aren’t you supposed to look after your kids?

      • Yes. That didn’t come out quite how I wanted. What I meant to say was that ultimately I have to trust that if I am faithful to what God is calling me to (including how I raise my kids), God can be trusted for the the outcome, whatever that may be.

        By the way, my wife points out that it is not all suffering, we always get lots of Christmas cookies from the ladies in the church!

  18. Steve Newell says

    One of the most influential Christians was single a good part of his ministry and only married later in file, It didn’t effect his relationship with his church. In fact, he did a lot of his writing and teaching during this time. He was 41 when he got married to a women 15 years his junior.

    I am speaking of Martin Luther.

  19. Let me be the devil’s advocate and suggest that perhaps marriage is pretty much dead and the church would do better by calling for absolutel celibacy.

  20. Headless Unicorn Guy says

    This is just the pastor-level version of the “Salvation Through Marriage” idea you find in a LOT of Evangelicals.

  21. I wonder if we are doing what is right when Jesus and/or Paul would be turned down for a pastoral position at a church because they were unmarried and without children?

  22. Josh in FW says

    There are some interesting points about the pros and cons of having a pro-married hiring policy for your pastor, but one commentor said something that really made me think.

    Is it biblical for the congregation to be “hiring” the pastor?
    (This question is near heresy coming from the grandson of a SBC minister who is currently a member of an independent Bible Church.)

    • Is it biblical for the congregation to be “hiring” the pastor?

      Interesting. I sure haven’t thought about this lately, but this question hanging in the air (to me) is the most dam*ing indictment of modern day discipleship that I’ve read lately. In other words, if leaders were multiplying followers of Jesus, growing the leadership from within the flock, the congregation would not so much be HIRING a new leader, as recognizing a leader who is already there, and who has been faithfully growing up and into that position with or without the title. In the absence of this , we do the “best (married) man available talent search”.

      • Josh in FW says

        Yes, I like your thoughts. I was also thinking about the advantages of a hierarchical (Epsicopal, Roman Catholic, Orthodox) system where the pastor-priest is assigned to the parish.

  23. I truly believe the world and the church operate in the same manner. No difference!

  24. Young men, single or married, will contend with significant temptation and distraction. Some age and experience go a long way. Marital status is of some consequence but age is the real kicker. Young men just get pummeled with temptation. It’s a tough road. Middle aged and old men have their own sin issues of course but have fought longer, repented more and figured out something or other…..I don’t know….it’s tough – that’s all.

  25. If you want to pastor and the local churches won’t hire you, then go to the jails, the youth shelters, the hospitals, the retirement homes, and the soup kitchens. There you will find, one day, the parents, husbands, wives, and children of the churches who won’t hire you.

  26. KR Wordgazer says

    Evangelical churches do seem to worship marriage. My own church has so many marriage-oriented programs it’s incredible. Nothing specifically for singles is even on the radar. Singles can only find a place to fit in if they’re still in college.

    • Headless Unicorn Guy says

      As someone put it on IMonk long ago:

      Tuesday Night: Alcoholics Ministry.
      Wednesday Night: Homosexuals Ministry.
      Thursday Night: Singles Ministry.

  27. I agree with the article above. I think many evangelical churches put the American nuclear family almost as an idol. You can be great at managing your household and staying faithful to your spouse but you may still be on your way to hell because you neglected other matters of the law like justice, helping the widow, and having genuine compassion for the poor (James 2).

    • You mean, “salvation by works,” Mark?

      With all due respect, I get put off by those who claim that someone is engaged in “family idolatry.” The family is the building block of society. God designed it that way.

      I’m almost 37, and still single. I find it to be a drain. Yes, I desire to have a wife more than anything else.

      I guess I’m going to hell.

      • WenatcheeTheHatchet says

        David, calling a citation of James 2 “salvation by works” would apply as much to advocating the family as the building block of society designed by God as saying that true religion is to visit widows and orphans in their affliction. Jesus’ teaching in Mark 10:29 and Luke 14:26 still apply. It’s not wrong to wish to be married any more than it was wrong for Paul to want his thorn in the flesh removed but God lets us have desires that He does not grant somewhere along the line. Even those desires God grants He may take decades to accomplish as was the case for Abraham. I would have liked to have not had a disastrous medical problem happen with my eyes but God let that happen.

        We shouldn’t overlook that in Paul’s day whether you were married or not was often a function of what your parents and neighbors decided. Arranged marriages to continue family names, estates, and trades were a little more common back then. We may tend to forget that there have always been a lot of men and women who wanted to be married but were not financially suited for the burden of that life or from families that could not afford to divide the estate and so dispatched their less eligible children to a monastery or a regiment. There have always been people who never managed to get married and not for lack of desire of it.

        We live in an age and place that holds that marriage, or at least romantic pairing, should be mutual, at will, and for as long as the relationship is considered mutually useful.. We tell ourselves this is more enlightened than ancient near eastern societies that arranged marriages that were at the will of mutually consenting families for the sake of furthering family legacies whether or not the individuals getting married were hoping for that. In the old days, it seems, kids had to marry to keep dad’s business going because that’s what grandpa established. In the new days divorces happen because mom or dad decide the grass is greener on the other side and personal fulfillment and the interests of the kids preclude other considerations. People still get hurt and used but in different ways for different reasons. I don’t hold it against married people that they are married but I don’t think it’s a small thing that Jesus said that in the age to come no one will be given in marriage. The family is the building block of society and designed by God but it was paradoxically through that God-designed institution that sin and spiritual death entered the world. That is why in Christ we can be thankful for biological family while recognizing the family of God does not depend on biological reproduction.

        I’m about to turn 37 in a few weeks and have never married. I thought at one point I’d marry and settle down and have kids but that hasn’t happened in the last twenty years.

        As for going to hell for wanting to be married more than anything, consider all the ways Abraham tried to come up with plans to “help” God’s promise come true. Those were not held against him.

      • David,

        Where did I say people will go to hell for wanting to be married and have a family? I agree that a stable family is important. I also believe that marriage is something that God has ordained and blessed. What I am saying, and please read this carefully, is that those who call themselves Christians and yet neglect other matters of God’s law (like justice, compassion, charity, etc.) demonstrate that they were never truly saved and on their way to hell.

        That is why I said that you may be very good at managing your family and being faithful to your spouse, but on your way to hell because you have an attitude of “kicking dust” towards people who are disadvantaged, poor, and helpless. God demands wholehearted obedience that encompasses everything not just some parts of his law. This is not salvation by works, but the consequence of the new birth in Christ. Do you think a person who is faithful to his family and yet has an attitude of contempt to those who are disadvantaged in society can truly be a born again Christian? I highly doubt it.

  28. I didn’t shove this in yesterday because it only peripheral to the discussion. And because words are less important than people. But it is a pity we use the word ‘discrimination’ the way we do.

    Understood properly, discrimination is a great virtue. It means to rightly divide the merits and qualities of someone or something. Thirty years ago, advertisements could say, “The discriminating automobile buyer prefers Buick!” But no one dares use the word in a positive way anymore.

    To look at a person and be able to discern their inner merits — what MLK called “the content of their character” — regardless of their exterior or their circumstances is what discrimination is, and it is highly desirable. In fact, to look at a person and to see only the outward things is a failure to discriminate, isn’t it?

  29. Headless Unicorn Guy says

    Chaplain Mike, other IMonastery Abbots:

    This is a subset of a general problem among Evangelicals: “Salvation Through Marriage Alone” and the Christian Singles Mess. You could do a week or two just on various aspects of the Christian Singles Mess. The thing’s got more heads than a Hydra on the 20th level of a Dungeon.

    • Interesting points, HUG…..maybe Joseph Smith was RIGHT after all: time to brush up on my reformed egyptian 🙂

  30. The Roman Catholic church insists on an unmarried, male, celibate clergy and the evangelical church seems intent on having married, male, reproductive clergy. Seems like two ends of the same argument. Surely a reasonable alternative exists somewhere in between?

  31. Most of my comments are very dry tongue-in-cheek, designed to elicit a conversation. This one is dead serious.

    Almost as long as I can remember, I’ve been a friend of pastors. Most of them are not my pastor, and many of them live far from me. I am one of those people with whom they can share what they can not say in their church or even in their city. They tell me what the love about the pastorate, and more often what they hate.

    Most of them see themselves as an employee of a group of people, often run by several tyrants with titles such as deacons, elders, church board and so on. These people tell them what is expected, although often in ambiguous terms. Loosely translated, in my terminology, these people want someone who will cater to what they want. They want someone who will fix their marriages and their kids. They want their families and their church to look good to the community.

    My pastor friends are expected to do everything the congregation wants, all while pretending that they and their family are next to perfect. Somehow they are expected to see that there must be verses in somebody’s version of the Bible that demand this.

    These folks are lonely and often bitter. They often have no “real” friends, especially where they live. Their marriages and families are often far from perfect. The pastors who are male often report that they wouldn’t be surprised if they came home one day and discovered that their wife had packed up and left and put a note on the kitchen table that says “I can’t take this anymore”.

    Most of them want to help people. They want to make people’s lives better. They want to tell them about Jesus. But they’re dealing with sister so-and-so complaining about some little thing they said in Sunday’s sermon or about someone in the church who isn’t treating them right. Then there are the eternal committee and board meetings discussing unending trivia, which usually amounts to “let’s see which one of us is going to get our way on this trivial matter to show who is really in charge here”.

    Many of them want to do something else. But they’re trapped. They trained to be a pastor, and often nothing else. Jobs to do something else aren’t easy to come by. If they are married and have kids, it’s hard to pay the bills with minimum wage. So they stay, and fantasize about poisoning sister so-and-so’s Sunday donut, then turn on the computer and look at porn. The lucky few have a wife with a teaching credential. When she can find a teaching job in a distant state, they resign and move “to be closer to family”, take a part time job at Starbucks, and sign up for classes at the local university to get degree in something that might get them a decent paying job.

    I recently sat in a room filled with pastors discussing this very issue. I am generously understating the problems. Most of these pastors are overworked & discouraged. They can’t live up to the expectations placed on them. Yes, there are those who make a big salary, but many do not. They are in debt trying to pay off seminary and trying to pay for the car, clothes and other stuff the church expects them to have so the church folks will have a pretty pastor & family.

    These pastors report that most of the expectations of the church, especially the people in each church who really “run” the church have little or nothing to do with Scripture. It’s mostly about what the church “WANTS” from a pastor. Some of these pastors have told me that they have decided that the role of pastor as we now see it is not something that is even found in the Bible. It is a role that has slowly evolved from the deacons, elders and so on mentioned in the NT to something that barely resembles anyone or anything we find in the NT, even though there are those who insist it does.

    Remarkably, many of my friends who are former pastors are now salesmen. The most common job title: used car salesmen. As reported by one, the job requires someone who can pretend to be friendly. Pretend I like the customers. Pretend I have the greatest product there is, at a great price. Pretend I’m your best friend. Pretend I love my job. My friend says it is an occupation ideally suited to former pastors.

    • Headless Unicorn Guy says

      Sam, you have just described the predicament my writing partner (the burned-out-preacher) has been in for the entire 10 years I’ve known him. The predicament he’s been trying to bail out from all those years. Like I said before, if you want to hear of a miracle, all three of his sons are still believers, even after seeing what Ministry did to their dad.

      I never knew him as a Pastor (TM), just as another fan, old-school FRP gamer, and starting-out author. I know him as a fannish, gamer, starting-out author — the only one I’ve been able to successfully collaborate with since I got crazy enough from reading SF that I wanted to try writing the stuff.

      As he said once (from memory): “I’m a middle-aged fat man with a bad back, and a wife and three kids to support.” And he has to go outside the church bubble to fandom or his writer’s organizations to find someone who knows him as something else than The Pastor (TM).

  32. MelissaTheRagamuffin says

    I think the reason many churches want the pastor to be married is because they want a “twofer.” The wife is expected to be an active participant in church ministry – unpaid of course. I would like to find out what would happen if a potential pastor said, “Yes, I’m married, but my wife is a member of a different denomination/attends a different church.”

  33. Internet Monk Reader says

    Long winded post to follow, but if you bear with me you’ll see why.

    All the appeals to rationale and anecdotal testimonies may be valid, but when trying to settle a controversial issue such as this, it makes sense to begin with what Scripture says and wrestle with those difficult texts, rather than try and interpret them based on our cultural experiences.

    To say that the NT does not require a pastor/elder to be married is exegetically problematic. Appealing to Paul’s single status is a self-defeating argument because the requirement for a married status came from Paul himself! Was he trying to trick us by giving us definite requirements for eldership and then on the same breath imply “oh, don’t worry about the ‘married’ bit because I’m single too”?

    There are approx 15 requirements in 1 Tim 3 and about 18 or so in Titus. Both sets are consistent with each other. Let’s begin by asking the question: are these commandments or suggestions? The grammar suggests the former by the imperative mood of the text.

    If they are commandments, then is it possible that Paul commanded 14 things which are a must and wedged one in between which is a maybe? If the answer is ‘yes’ then he must be introducing the concept of optional compliance. In other words we can go down the list of requirements and tick the ones we like and skip the ones we don’t find palatable. If we honestly believe the Scripture affords us such latitude, then how can you stop the next guy who says “we don’t care if he is a recent convert (1 Tim 3:6) because we can really see his humility and we don’t believe he will fall into the condemnation of the devi”. Where do you draw the line then and who decides what is optional and what is mandatory?

    What sets this particular requirement apart is also that unlike all the others on the list, Paul feels the need to justify its inclusion with the rationale of “for if someone does not know how to manage his own household, how will he care for God’s church?” This is not an obscure passage. It is not hard to understand that in his mind, keeping one’s family in order is the testing ground of qualifying for leadership (not his ThD). He is not implying a perfect family, but an orderly family. What do you do with this scripture?

    Also all the other requirements are behavioral and attitudinal, which means we may some times fail the standard but can repent and start again. The marriage issue is either a yes or no. You are either married or you’re not.

    Metaphorically, we can say that the leading of an orderly household is one of the exams you must pass to get your degree. If you’re not married, then you’re asking to get the degree without sitting for the exam.

    Why would Paul use this logic? Let’s think it through for a moment. Keeping a family in order is hard work. It requires wisdom, love, patience, admonition, discipline, forgiveness, counsel, perseverance etc. It is a huge part of ‘life experience’ that produces maturity. To not have it, is missing an important dimension of one’s life.

    Someone commented that Timothy was single. My question is “how do you know”? The Bible is silent on Timothy’s marital status, as is also scant on the biographical details of other NT characters. How could Paul be telling Timothy to pass on this requirement to everyone else but exclude himself?

    Also to pit 1 Cor 7:7 (“I wish that all were as I myself am”) against 1 Tim 3 is to disregard context. Those two are not antithetical. 1 Tim 3 is specifically addressing the office of elders/overseers who are called to a higher standard. It is prescriptive, specific and imperative. 1 Cor 7 is clearly non-prescriptive and Paul prefaces his statement with the words “Now as a concession, not a command, I say this.”

    In closing, I really feel for Mark Almlie. I don’t know if the churches that turned him down did it only as a matter of preference or because they wanted to obey the Scriptures. If I was an elder in a church and this matter was put to vote, I could not in good conscience violate the requirements set out in the pastoral epistles (as I understand it), just because the applicant may be a great guy, theologically trained, gifted communicator etc.

    If I had your attention thus far, thank you for your patience. Thank you also for the opportunity to comment and I apologize for the length of the post.

    • brilliantvapor says

      Is it possible that Paul isn’t saying “he must be married!”, but rather “if he’s married, he’d better be married to/faithful to one woman” and “if he has kids, he’d better know how to keep an orderly family”? Looking at it that way, if the candidate in question were not married, those questions would simply be not applicable, and you could skip over them. Does that make sense?

    • WenatcheeTheHatchet says

      Internet Monk Reader, your argument argument looks watertight but hinges on establishing one of two following points regarding Timothy as the recipient of Paul’s letters:

      1) that Timothy was eventually married because he would not have been allowed to become bishop of Ephesus as an unmarried man or
      2) that Timothy was never actually bishop of Ephesus, despite tradition, due to his not being married

      One of these two historical points must be established beyond all doubt as a way to establish whether the recipients of apostolic teaching actually implemented the exegesis you have described and so doing proved its accuracy. 1 would seem simpler to prove than 2.

      • Internet Monk Reader says

        @ WenatcheeTheHatchet

        Good point. However, the fact that the NT does not bother to reveal Timothy’s ultimate marital status would tell me that this detail is not relevant to support a biblical argument. If it was, it would be revealed. What is already laid out in Scripture ought to be sufficient to establish a position. It is therefore a matter of hermeneutical orientation.

        As I understand it (and I could be wrong of course), for Paul to lay our 15 requirements with the expectation that 14 are a MUST and one is a MAYBE, seems like an exegetical fallacy.

        Having said all that, I am not a theologian and do not appeal to the authority of academic credentials. This was simply a point of contention in a church we attended a while ago and it forced me to examine the scriptures closely and think it through. These are the conclusions I came up with. I am happy to be proven wrong, but it will take a bit more than rationalizations, unqualified opinions and references to anecdotal experiences.

        • WenatcheeTheHatchet says

          Then you’re making an argument that assumes exegesis of a particular passage trumps the broader pastoral correspondence. For instance, in the first epistle Paul charges Timothy to appoint men to be teachers and outlines the criteria for being an elder and that the doctrines about Christ are paramount. “Do not be hasty in the laying on of hands” is obviously widely accepted as Paul warning Timothy to not be too swift in ordaining elders, to avoid participating in the sins of others, and keeping himself pure.

          Then we get to 2 Timothy 2 and Paul is still urging Timothy to appoint men to be teachers who will reliably carry on the apostolic teaching; Paul then urges Timothy to join him as soon as he can. You seem to want an exegetical case from scripture alone using a prooftext. I suggest that if you actually look at what Paul keeps asking Timothy to do in both epistles that Timothy’s task of appointing elders in Ephesus turned out to be a longer and more challenging task than either Paul or Timothy anticipated. Paul even warns against the continuing threat of Alexander the coppersmith’s activities. You seem to think an exegetical study of a prooftext trumps looking at the pastoral correspondence between Paul and Timothy as a whole. I think taken together the epistles to Timothy suggest that Paul’s assistant was having more trouble getting elders appointed in Ephesus than anticipated so Paul was encouraging Timothy to not lose heart and to be wary of adversaries.

          To go by the testimony about the church in Ephesus we get in Revelation 2 it would appear that whatever troubles Timothy had in establishing teachers there he seems to have eventually mostly succeeded. We don’t have much extra-biblical evidence to suggest that Timothy was ever able to join Paul but we do have biblical witness to the relative health of the Ephesian church and to a continued presence by Timothy there in a crucial leadership role. What we don’t see any evidence of between 1 & 2 Timothy is that Timothy managed to even appoint men who were considered qualified to be elders.

          Now there is a way to get around this exegetical suggestion about the two epistles I’ve formed but that’s to reject the authenticity of either 1 or 2 Timothy as an authentically Pauline epistle. Taken together I think the case that Timothy had some trouble appointing teachers in Ephesus can account for the authenticity of both epistles as Pauline and for church tradition attesting that Timothy was the first bishop of Rome. Not coincidentally, it also establishes that when the early churches had to decide between marriage and personal apostolic testimony on behalf of the character of a man as a qualification for bishop that the latter won despite the fact that a mechanical reading of just 1 Timothy would suggest otherwise.

          All of the above is the longer case for why I think you actually do have to prove point 1 or point 2 from my earlier reply. If one of the pastoral epistles was merely credited to Paul rather than written by Paul your case that Paul insisted on elders as married does, I grant, gain a lot more force. The question, if this is admitted for discussion, would be which epistle to Timothy was not really written by Paul. My hunch is that’s not a textual/exegetical direction you’d like to go in and, frankly, I don’t really feel like going in that direction either because I grant that both epistles are Pauline.

    • IMR—I would simply disagree that every qualification Paul gave to a specific group of congregations in a particular setting in order that those Christians might maintain a good reputation among their neighbors is prescriptive for all congregations in all settings at all times. Furthermore, there is little evidence that there is one single pattern of the “office of elder” or how it functioned in various churches. What the passage commends is that the churches in question have wisdom to choose people who will be “above reproach” in the eyes of their neighbors, and a number of the specific examples given reflect the cultures and settings in which they lived.

      If church polity were unambiguously clear in the NT, we would not have multiple church denominations formed specifically around different forms of it.

      Furthermore, I find the argument that “elder” somehow requires a higher standard than “apostle” to be silly. Jesus said if one can accept the calling to remain unmarried for the sake of the kingdom, he/she should accept it. And churches should accept those who accept that calling into all manner of ministry. Those who serve as singles will not be a majority, but to have some of them in prominent positions of leadership is necessary so that the church may maintain an eschatological perspective on things like marriage and family. Such institutions do not represent ultimate values, and single people who choose to sacrifice them to devote themselves to the Lord’s service should be upheld as examples, not dismissed as unqualified.

      • Internet Monk Reader says

        Chaplain Mike –

        I hope you are right! You raise some valid points. However, it is puzzling to me how the statement “if someone does not know how to manage his own household, how will he care for God’s church?” is culturally specific and not all-inclusive.

        Nonetheless, as I openly confessed on my reply above, I am not a professional theologian so I leave it to the experts to have the last word.

        • I take Paul’s requirement regarding marriage not to say one must be married, but if married (as most would have been in that culture, and indeed, in ours) one must be a faithful spouse and have a good reputation with regard to family matters.

          • John from Down Under says

            Al Mohler articulated the point I was trying to make a lot better today:

            This text clearly suggests that the minister will be married, indeed “the husband of one wife.” It does not say, “if married, the husband of one wife.” Now, the text does not explicitly state that a minister is not to be single, but it does hold out marriage as the default and normal state.

        • KR Wordgazer says

          DIdn’t Paul also say, “Are you single? Do not seek a wife.” I think that’s in 1 Cor. 7 also. But 1 Tim 3 says, “Anyone who desires to be an overseer, desires a good thing.” If Paul was also saying, “Anyone who is an overseer must also be married,” he’d be saying, “If you want to be an overseer, you must seek a wife, and then have kids.”

          This doesn’t make sense. Being a church leader would have to be a second career for everyone– because they’d have to have a way to support the kids while waiting to meet the qualifications. Anyone who feels called to seminary as a young person, therefore, should be told to wait, to go get a job and get married and have kids– and then think about God’s calling. But what if their giftings are best suited for full-time ministry? Why can they not “prove themselves” in the field they feel drawn to? Couldn’t someone who was single start out as youth pastor or evangelist, and if they were clearly gifted to minister, couldn’t they become lead pastor in time without having to get married?

          The whole idea also goes against 2 Cor 5: “Henceforth we regard no one according to the flesh.” A person’s character, gifts, anointing of the Holy Spirit, and other spiritual qualifications would have to take a back seat to their fleshly qualifications (whether they are married, and if married, are capable of having children).

          I think Paul’s idea must have been, “a person who is a married parent, whose family is in turmoil, should not minister in the church,” not “a single person whose life is in order in every way a single person’s should be, should not minister just because (s)he’s not married.”

  34. Well, gee, the pastors at all of my Churches have ALWAYS been single guys! (with a wink and nod, as I am Roman Catholic…)

    But, really, is it the fear of sexual misconduct in a young, single male pastor that is the stumbling block, or is it the more pragmatic “two for the price of one” some of you have mentioned?

    As a life long RC, I really want to learn more. Just here to grow, not to debate (at least not those things that aren’t essential to our mutual faith in the Risen Christ!)