Selecting Elders And Overseers

Q. The Church I attend is small but well established. There are 60 -70 members with about 40 who regularly attend. We are currently trying to establish a group of elders or overseers but most have been married and divorced in the past including the Pastor. We recognize this as wrong and have asked for forgiveness and have moved on. Some have remarried some have not. The members in our church who have the ability to help make strong spiritual decisions or give advice is limited. How do we set a standard for an elder or overseer?

A. The Bible says a believer is a new creation in Christ (2 Corinthians 5:17) and that we are now as righteous as God (2 Corinthians 5:21).

It says that when we sin, if we confess our sins God is just and faithful and will purify us from all unrighteousness (1 John 1:9).

Nowhere does it say that divorce is an unforgivable sin, or that a divorced person cannot be purified from all unrighteousness. On the contrary it says God’s mercies are new every morning (Lamentations 3:22-23).

To me what these things mean is that if a divorced person is being considered for a leadership position it should be done based on the stability of his current personal life according to the standards Paul set forth in 1 Timothy 3.

This should also include his recognition of the great harm divorce does to everyone involved, and his determination not to repeat past mistakes. He should believe that divorce is a sin, but one that can be forgiven when a believer sincerely asks. If God can separate the sin from the sinner as Paul wrote in Romans 7:18-20, how can we do less?

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