So, in my Baptist circles, a divorced pastor causes a lot of consternation. It sort of went without saying that a minister in the midst of a divorce needed to resign, or at least take several years away from ministry. In other words, there seems to be this idea that preachers who divorce are at least temporarily disqualified from ministry, and in some cases permanently so.

Andy Stanley picks up on this in his book "Deep and Wide," speaking of his father (Charles Stanley), who in 1992, underwent a very public divorce. He writes:

While most of the congregants at First Baptist Atlanta (FBA) were willing to stand by my dad no matter what, there was a group that insisted he take some time off to work on his marriage. ... In addition to the take-some-time-off group, there was an element in the church that thought my dad should resign. It was their conviction that if my mom actually went through with the divorce, he would be disqualified to serve in his current capacity. As cruel as that may sound, you need to understand that until that time, First Baptist Atlanta had never had a divorced staff member or deacon. You couldn't be elected to the deacon board if you had been divorced. So, in the minds of the resign-now crowd, they were simply applying what they had been taught.

Stanley, Andy (2012-09-25). Deep & Wide: Creating Churches Unchurched People Love to Attend (p. 38). Zondervan. Kindle Edition.

This seems related to the whole "deacons need to be the husband of one wife thing," but if this is the case, where does the chance at rehabilitation come from?

In short, what teachings would only temporarily disqualify a divorced pastor from preaching?

  • To avoid making the post c.wiki, could @Caleb or Affable Geek edit the last sentence to something like "In short, what teachings would only temporarily disqualify a divorced pastor from preaching?"?
    – user3331
    Aug 3, 2013 at 15:15
  • 2
    @PaulA.Clayton Don't worry about CW status around here. If a post gets converted because of too many edits and the edits are even remotely valid, I and the other mods have no objections to forcing them back. Just flag the post and we'll fix it. We've already established that the auto-conversion is usually a bad thing for us and are quite willing to fix it for you guys. Please feel free to edit as you see fit without worrying about that detail.
    – Caleb
    Aug 3, 2013 at 15:17
  • @brilliant I have moved our discussion in chat because it really isn't relevant to improving or giving feedback on Affable's post. Let's continue there.
    – Caleb
    Aug 3, 2013 at 16:15
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    Are they disqualified from being a minister? I think it would be wise for him to take some time off to focus on sorting out his personal life, but is that different to being disqualified? I'm not sure the premise you are basing your question on is correct.
    – Greg
    Aug 5, 2013 at 2:32
  • Should this question be scoped to Baptists specifically? I don't think there is a general agreement among all Protestants about the interpretation of "husband of one wife" in this context. Aug 13, 2013 at 20:38

1 Answer 1


I hope the following does indeed contribute to the answer....

Paul writes that an elder must be above reproach, blameless, the husband of one wife, manage his own family well etc from 1 Timothy 3 and Titus. A divorce is seen as causing serious question marks on these things for the man who has gone through such a tragedy.

Since the qualifications from Paul are not "ought to haves" but "must haves", then it has been the case in many Protestant denominations, that a divorce will disqualify a man from continuing to hold public office in the church.

It in no way condemns the divorced people to not being christians any more, if there is repentance, but it does preclude a man from continuing in the office even if he is the innocent party.

That's how it works in the circles I have seen....

But for those circles that do allow Pastors to re-enter the teaching office, it is generally because of arguments like "Who are we to judge? If a man is innocent then it should not disqualify him. If he has repented then we should bring him back and welcome him as a brother."

Such reasoning though is contra the first set of principles.


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