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Can an unmarried man be a deacon or elder?



1 Timothy 3:12 says, "Let deacons be the husbands of one wife, ruling their children and their own houses well." Titus 1:6-7 says, "... appoint elders in every city as I commanded you—if a man is blameless, the husband of one wife, temperate, sober-minded, of good behaviour, hospitable, and able to teach." 1 Timothy 3:2 says, "A bishop (elder) then must be blameless, the husband Some people have concluded, based on their reading of these three passages, that a man serving as an elder or deacon must be married. What is important is not whether the elder or deacon is married or single; rather, what is important is that he is morally and sexually pure. This is the most essential qualification because it is the area in which the vast majority of leaders fall short. One interpretation of the passage in 1 Timothy 3:12 that states "a deacon must be the husband of only one wife" is that it implies a man must be married in order to serve in the role of deacon. Not at all; "husband of one wife" does not mean that at all. The English phrase "husband of one wife" translates literally from Greek as "one-woman man." If a married man aspires to lead the congregation of his church, he must first demonstrate his devotion to the woman he married. This requirement entails not cheating on your partner and maintaining a hygienic environment in the bedroom. Getting married does not involve doing this in any way. Because the second half of 1 Timothy 3:12 states that a man "must manage his children and his household well," it follows that a man would be required to be married and have children if this were the case. This should be interpreted to mean that a man who is married has a responsibility to be faithful to his wife. If a man is going to have children, he absolutely needs to be capable of looking after them.


There are those who believe that because of this rule, unmarried men are prevented from serving in leadership roles in churches. However, if that was Paul's objective, he wouldn't have been able to join us in the first place (1 Cor. 7:8). A man is said to be a "one-woman man" if he is completely devoted to his wife and demonstrates his love for her as well as his sexual purity in both his thoughts and his actions. In the event that you violate this, you will forfeit the privilege of being blameless and will no longer be "above reproach" (Titus 1:6,7). According to Paul, one reason why being single is a blessing is that it makes it much simpler to serve the Lord (1 Corinthians 7:32-35). In the book of 1 Corinthians, chapter 7, verse 32, Paul writes that an unmarried man is concerned about the affairs of the Lord and how he can please the Lord. Why, then, would he prevent men from serving in leadership roles in the church? In the first nine verses of this chapter, Paul demonstrates that in God's eyes, being married and being single are both acceptable and appropriate ways to live one's life. Elders and deacons do not need to be married to serve in either role; all that is required is that they fulfil the godly qualifications outlined in 1 Timothy and Titus.

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