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July 13, 2008 Q & A

Church Officer's Wife a Member Elsewhere?

Question:

Is it biblical for our OPC church to elect a member, a godly man, to the ordained office of deacon when his believing wife in good standing in our church is a member of another church (Lutheran)? They both have attended our OPC church for decades but she won't join because of family ties to her former church. "Does he have his house in order?" This is my question.

Answer:

Thank you for your question, although I must say that it sounds as if you are describing a real-life situation in a particular church. Because of that, I am going to tread cautiously: it is not our intent or desire to intermeddle in matters in congregations about which we may not have all the facts and which are being addressed by the local session.

Let me just say this, then, about the question from 1 Timothy 3:1-13, which requires all office-bearers to have their households in order. While it is, to be sure, an anomaly that an office-bearer would have a Christian wife who is not a member of the particular church in which he serves, I could conceive of a scenario in which a session might deem such a man fit for office and the congregation might elect him. I suppose that I am saying that I do not think that the scenario that you describe would necessarily militate against a man serving as an elder or deacon or that he would be patently unqualified solely on the basis of the situation with his wife. I grant that it sounds unusual but I would also guess that if he is ordained, or if his ordination is contemplated, the session and congregation must have good reasons for such an action.

You may well find my answer frustrating, having hoped for a more straightforward "it's wrong!" But, as I noted, I can conceive of situations where what you describe may not disqualify a man from office, and I so I am inclined to believe that those situations may be present here, prompting those involved to desire his service in spite of this unusual situation.

 

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