Question: Our church has been without a pastor for quite a while and the board will not consider a pastor who has been divorced. Are there Scriptural grounds for this?
Answer: There are many circumstances concerning pastors that have been divorced. Some would disqualify and some would not.
We will call this Case One, which would not disqualify a man from the pastorate. The qualifications for a pastor are given in 1 Timothy 3:2-4. He must be married and the husband of one wife (V.2) Should the man have been married and divorced before he became a Christian, by accepting Jesus Christ as his personal Savior, and has remarried since; the divorce would not disqualify him from the pastorate. The reason is that, when he trusted Christ for his salvation, every sin was forgiven including divorce.
2 Corinthians 5:17 says,
“Therefore if any man be in Christ, he is a NEW CREATURE (Greek, “creation”): old things are passed away; behold, ALL things become new” (That is in God’s eyes concerning you.).
The divorce, as well as all sin, are non‑existent in God’s eyes, as Acts 13:39 states,
“And by Him (Jesus Christ) all that believe are justified from all things…”
The Word of God in Psalm 103:12 lets us know that,
“As far as the east is from the west, so far hath he removed our transgressions from us.”
In God’s mind, at salvation, the man’s divorce is as though it never existed. The Christian has God’s Word about this in Isaiah 43:25,
“I, even I, am he that blotteth out thy transgressions for mine own sake, and WILL NOT REMEMBER THY SINS.”
Therefore, going back to God's Word in 1 Timothy 3:2 concerning “…the husband of one wife,” would not be referring to a previous marriage before one was a Christian; but, to more than one wife at the present time.
I personally know of pastors, youth directors, choir direc-tors, deacons, Sunday school teachers, etc. who fulfill their positions and are doing a wonderful work for the Lord, who had previously been divorced prior to being saved. At salvation, God is not interested in our past sins any more, as they are nailed to Calvary’s cross; but, He is sure interested in our future in serving Him. Let us not hinder God’s will or leading for a pastor, deacon, Sunday school, etc. who has been divorced prior to being saved. The sins God has no remembrance of need not be resurrected by a church board interfering with the will of God!