AS YOU KNOW, THE BIBLE SAYS THE ELDER SHOULD BE “THE HUSBAND OF ONE WIFE“ (1 TIM. 3:2). IS THAT CURRENTLY A REQUIREMENT? IF A PERSON HAS BEEN MARRIED AND DIVORCED, IS HE OR SHE FOREVER UNABLE TO SERVE AS AN ELDER ?
Paul’s intent in stating that a man must be the “husband of one wife“ isn’t that a man must be married to become an elder, but if he is married, he must be faithful to his wife in a monogamous relationship. A person doesn’t need to be married to become an elder. If we insist that all elders be married, then to be con - sistent we would have to require them to have more than one child (“having his children in subjection with all gravity“ 1 Tim. 3: 4). Again, if we press Paul’s words beyond his original in - tent, we could argue not only that a potential elder must have at least two children but also that his children still live at home with him. The point is not that children must be living at home; however, if his children are living at home, he must manage them well, and they must be respectful and obedient.
A potential elder must honor, love, and be devoted to his wife and her alone. This view allows for the possibility of an elder being re - married after the death of his wife or after a divorce, although the phrase in question does not directly address that situation. The situation of a divorced man must be treated carefully, however. If he was the “innocent“ party in the divorce and was not unfaithful, and he then gets remarried according to the Bible in - structions, he would sometimes need to prove himself in his new mar - riage. In this case, such a person isn’t disqualified from becom - ing an elder again, but the final decision belongs to the church board and church members.
IF AN INDIVIDUAL RETURNS TO CHURCH AND IS REBAPTIZED AFTER GOING THROUGH A DIVORCE, IS HE OR SHE QUALIFIED TO BE AN ELDER OF THAT CHURCH?
First of all, please note that there are no member - ship categories in our church. Every church has but one membership list. All church members are consid - ered to be in regular standing unless they are under church discipline. If a member is disciplined, he or she can still retain membership, but risks the chance to continue to perform duties for the church. However, if a member is disfellowshipped from the church and returns and gets re-baptized, the person can again be elected for duties, if approved by the church board and members. So the answer is ‘yes’, but it is up to the church to make the final decision.
It is also vital to remember that when we look for qualifications in an elder, some key characteristics include: spiritual and moral credibility, capacity and knowledge, and availability and time. If an elder does not have these qualities, he or she might not be quali - fied to be an elder in the first place. Considering this point, a person who has returned to church through rebaptism may not be the best person to be elected as an elder if their past reputation, for some reason or another, affects their present state.
General Conference Associate Ministerial Secretary