By Larry Ray Hafley
From Arkansas: “Does Titus 1:6 require an elder to continue to have faithful children? For example, an elder has reared faithful children; however, after departing the home they become unfaithful. Does he still qualify?”
“A bishop then must be . . . one that ruleth well his own house, having his children in subjection with all gravity; (For if a man know not how to rule his own house, how shall he take care of the church of God?)” (1 Tim. 3:2, 4, 5). “If any be blameless, the husband of one wife, having faithful children not accused of riot or unruly. For a bishop must be ”blameless as the steward: of God” (Titus 1:6, 7).
“His Own House”
Titus 1:6 should be viewed in light of 1 Tim. 3:4, 5. The “faithful children” are those in the father’s “own house.” These texts do not directly deal with the child who has, as our querist demonstrates, departed their own parental home. They contemplate children under the care of the parents, still in their “own house.” However, this question concerns children who have formed a home of their own. Does their unfaithfulness after “departing the home” and forming one of their own disqualify an elder?
First, is a “parent responsible for his child’s life and faith after that child leaves home? Is it the fault of every parent who has a child go astray? God has children whom He loses (Isa. 1:2; Heb. 2:13; 3:12): Is God at fault? Is He responsible? I do not think so. While a man has children at home he must be one who “ruleth well his own house, having his, children in subjection,” but does that same subjection inhere when the child leaves that home? No, for the child is not then under the father’s jurisdiction.
The man has shown his ability to rule well those under his direction. It is only after they leave his home that they “become unfaithful.” As an elder, he will “take care of the church of God,” those under his oversight. His oversight contemplates only those in the local church. It does not include those without. Under his rule, his children were subject and faithful. Hence; he has proven he can take care of those under his exemplary leadership.
Second, to say that an elder is not responsible does not remove all taint or stain that may occur. An elder must be blameless. Whether the child is in the home of his father or out of it; if the deeds of his children cast aspersion on the father, he will be disqualified. Often the nearness or nature of the unfaithfulness of a child, whether in or out of his home, may strip an elder of his qualification, “For a bishop must be blameless, as the steward of God” (Titus 1:7). “Moreover, he must have a good report of them that are without; lest he fall into the reproach and snare of the devil” (1 Tim. 3:7) Obviously, these texts deal with the man himself and not his children, but a child’s riotous, unruly behavior, even those out of the home, may disqualify an elder if the influence of the deeds shadows or casts reflection upon the man himself.
The great character and integrity of elders must not be undermined. Only the best of men may serve as the scriptural qualifications indicate. May we never lower the divine standard of virtue and excellence for the sake of an office or position.
Truth Magazine, XX:6, p. 2
February 5, 1976