Thursday, November 13, 2008

What happens when our pastor gets a divorce?

"My wife has left me and she has filed for divorce" the pastor tells the congregation with tears in his eyes. You can feel the pain spread throughout the sanctuary. What happens now? It is obvious that the pastor has been faithful to his flock, but what happens when your shepherd, your spiritual overseer gets a divorce?

This is a tough situation. As a church that takes I Timothy 3 very seriously, it makes this it even harder. When Paul says, an overseer is to be above reproach and husband of one wife, it is vital that the pastor's relationship with his wife is to be the example of marriage to the church. But things get messy and difficult when that relationship has been tainted. So how do we proceed?

There are a number of things that need to happen:

1) An investigation to why the divorce is happening. If the pastor has been unfaithful there is no question, he must resign his position.
2) The pastor must do some major self reflection, no matter the reason for the divorce, as he reads the words from I Timothy 3 that tells the pastor to have his home in order.
3) The church must also do self-reflection on the implications of having a pastor who is divorced and ways by which is can effectively move forward as a congregation.

Is it a simple, yes he stays or no he is out, probably not. But any way you look at it, it is very difficult for a pastor who is divorced to stay at his current congregation. Impossible? No. Does the ministry suffer, probably. All I know is that it would be very difficult for me to stay in the ministry if my wife left me due to the implications it would have on the church at large!

Any thoughts or discussions?

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