I am writing in response to David Warner’s article on Homosexuality in the December 2011 issue of the Beacon Lights. Warner cites I Timothy 3:1-7 and Titus 1:4-9, which lay out criteria for office bearers: namely that, among other things, they be faithful to their wives and manage their houses with faithful children. “Gay men,” Warner wisely notes, “do not have the wife and children that are clearly stated as requirements in Scripture.”
I am in full agreement with Warner on this point; we must be faithful to scripture in all things, and the ordination of elders is a crucial place for the application of biblical principles. Furthermore, the Protestant Reformed Churches are to be commended not only for denying ordination to homosexuals, women, and homeschoolers, but in whole-heartedly condemning the practice in wicked, ungodly, apostate churches.
But I do take issue with the random manner in which the PRC applies these criteria. If the Bible mandates that an elder have a wife and children, why do the Protestant Reformed Churches not prohibit, as the Bible commands them to, the ordination of bachelors, widowers, and men who are childless? While it is true that the conscientious application of these verses would prohibit the ordination of Paul himself, as well as the other apostles, and even Jesus for that matter, it is not for us to question God’s will as laid out in the Scriptures. It is only for us to obey.
It is time for the Protestant Reformed Churches to repent and to revise the church order to show the world that they are obedient to the Bible in all things. No wife, no children, no ordination.
Derek Vanden Akker
The statement that seems to be the issue is the result of hastily using inadequate language on my part, and I also apologize for that. Reading it again, I see how I wasn’t very clear in stating what I was thinking. I don’t hold to the position that a man must be married with children in order to hold office in the church. God doesn’t give every man a wife, and at times he does not give them children either. Those passages in I Timothy and in Titus lay out principles for officebearers who are married and have children. Obviously, if a man does not have a strong relationship with his wife or has no control over his children, doing little to maintain his family unit, he most likely will not be a good candidate for overseeing and handling matters of the larger family of the church. Notice how the other qualifications Paul lists deal with the character of the man, such as self-control and temperance—one who doesn’t get drunk or brawl or get greedy, etc. In this same way, he must have control over his desires and not be flirtatious. He must be faithful to his one wife if he is married, but if he is single, he still must demonstrate this self-control and be mature in such matters because anything otherwise would be adultery (Matt. 5:28). If Paul was implying that an elder or office bearer is required to be married and have children, it would seem contrary to his own teaching in I Corinthians 7:6-9, 25-34 in which he shows the benefits of being single. The single person, not burdened with the responsibilities of caring for spouses and/or children, is able to establish a very strong bond with the Lord and grow in spiritual matters. If the widower, bachelor, or childless man shows the fruits of the spirit and shows those qualities of a good office bearer, they should be able to take those positions in the church.
Also, in reading the Form of Ordination of Elders and Deacons that the PRC uses, there is no mention that the man must be married with children. Rather, it explains the gifts, talents, and responsibilities of those ordained into office. Bachelors, widowers, and men who do not have children are still capable of having these characteristics and fulfilling these duties, and are thus eligible for these offices. The gay man, even if he is faithful to his “partner” or rules his “family” well, is living in deliberate disobedience to God. This willful, open sinning is ultimately what disqualifies them from being office bearers (as elders and deacons and ministers must be men after God’s own heart), more-so than the fact that they don’t really have a family unit for ruling over or demonstrating the necessary qualities of office bearers.
I hope this clarifies my statement. I apologize for not using the best choice of words initially.