Must an elder in the church be a parent?

If an elder must rule his own household well, does this mean he must have children?

1 Timothy 3:4 - 5

ESV - 4 He must manage his own household well, with all dignity keeping his children submissive. 5 For if someone does not know how to manage his own household, how will he care for God's church?

Clarify Share Report Asked July 19 2015 Mini Anonymous

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Image41 Ezekiel Kimosop
It is nowhere taught in Scripture that a church elder must be a parent or must have children. 
The Bible clearly sets out the qualifications of a person who may hold the office of church elder in 1 Timothy 3:1-7 and marriage to one wife is a strict requirement. 

It is therefore explicit that the man must be married and be husband of but one wife only. If he has children, he must demonstrate the qualities of a good household leader by teaching and admonishing his children in the way of the Lord (1 Timothy 3:4). If this verse is read together with 1 Timothy 3:2-3,7 we can infer that the man must be a godly husband to his wife who is temperate and not violent or abusive towards his household (wife included) and whose moral reputation is therefore not open to question. The effective management of his family is evidence that a man is spiritually and morally mature and trustworthy. 

If however the man, being married to one wife, is not blessed with children or for any reason cannot get any or has lost them, this does in any way disqualify him from occupying the office of church elder or being considered a candidate for that office. 

There are married men in church communities who do not have children yet they faithfully serve the Lord and their moral conduct is above reproach. There is no scriptural basis for excluding such men from eldership or denying them other leadership positions by reason that they do not have children. 

To teach that a man must have children or be a parent in order to qualify as a church elder is to introduce unbiblical requirements into the office of church elder that were not contemplated by scripture and this may tend to heresy.

July 20 2015 4 responses Vote Up Share Report

Mini Jean Email Believer
As Christians sometimes we imprison ourselves with too much religion. I think God also gave us the freedom to choose and use our own God given intellect to decide for ourselves some of these rules and regulations we impose on one another.

A church I used to belong to in my teens had a man in his fifties. He was single, never married and never had children. He had chosen this life of celibacy because he felt it gave him freedom to serve the LORD. He used to counsel us and give us some of the most amazing advice yet he was never married or a parent but he was an elder at our church.

In my opinion, Paul is saying IF an elder is married then he must have one wife and be responsible over his household. Not having children or a spouse does not preclude a person from becoming an elder. The same Paul also advised that those who were single it would be better for them to remain single so they can serve, didn't he?

If marriage and parenting is the only thing that would qualify one to become an elder then several important people would not have qualified as elders, including Abraham for a large part of his life, Jeremiah the prophet who never married and even Jesus Christ Himself. Many single pastors are successfully pastoring churches and God has given them children in the church to raise in the Lord and guide in the walk of faith.

July 20 2015 17 responses Vote Up Share Report

Data Daniel Ellenwood EX Military/civilian Truck Driver..Now Retired.
Yes. The biblical foundation for this is 1 Timothy 3:4 "Must be able to manage his household well," keeping his children submissive! If he does not have children, then it's just a husband and wife. If you follow the entire scripture, what it's saying is that you have to have shown that you have experience in family matters. One of the jobs of an elder is to help with counseling. If a man has no experience in dealing with children and teens, then how can he give wise cousel to a family with 4 or 5 children? This scripture sums it up by saying "If a man cant guide his own family, then how can he handle God's people in the church?" So yes he must have children (of good report) to show that he has leadership abilities.

July 20 2015 1 response Vote Up Share Report

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