Unmarried Pastor, Seeking a Job, Sees Bias

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BryanBice's picture

I'm trying to figure out why the guy is surprised by this. I would expect that a search committee would give preferential consideration to a married man. After all, they have at least one more criterion to look at ("manages his own household well"). While I think it would be inappropriate to say Scripture insists that pastors be married, the passages that list qualifications seem to assume they will be. So what's a single guy to do if he can't find a church to hire him? Well...serve as a co-pastor...assistant...church planter.... Last thing he should be doing is publicly belly-aching about unfair discrimination.

Just curious, other than John Stott, how many unmarried pastors of evangelical/fundamentalist churches do you know? I don't know of any.

Jonathan Charles's picture

A homosexual told me that an adult man who is well into life and who has never married but is not homosexual is a myth; the man is surely homosexual but hasn't "come out." I don't believe that, and John Stott came to mind when I read the article, but I can understand why a church would be hesitant. The single pastor thing hasn't worked out well for the Roman Catholic church.

Jim's picture

Jonathan Charles wrote:
A homosexual told me that an adult man who is well into life and who has never married but is not homosexual is a myth; the man is surely homosexual but hasn't "come out." I don't believe that, and John Stott came to mind when I read the article, but I can understand why a church would be hesitant. The single pastor thing hasn't worked out well for the Roman Catholic church.

This view is at variance with the Scriptures! And I don't believe it either!

Jonathan Charles's picture

Jim Peet wrote:
Jonathan Charles wrote:
A homosexual told me that an adult man who is well into life and who has never married but is not homosexual is a myth; the man is surely homosexual but hasn't "come out." I don't believe that, and John Stott came to mind when I read the article, but I can understand why a church would be hesitant. The single pastor thing hasn't worked out well for the Roman Catholic church.

This view is at variance with the Scriptures! And I don't believe it either!

Ditto. The man came from a Christian background, had made a profession of faith earlier in life, and I encouraged him that if he never had proper heterosexual desires, then God's will for him was to live a holy, celibate life. He scoffed at the idea that any man could live celibate until old age. I'm guessing many churches have the same notion and are scared by any man in his late 30's, 40's or 50's+ who has never married.

rogercarlson's picture

I have only known of one pastor who was single and pastoring. He did it for several years and now is married. I don't think it disqualifies a man, but I can understand hesitation on a churches part

Roger Carlson, Pastor
Berean Baptist Church

Susan R's picture

EditorModerator

It's understandable why people believe that unless you have some experience with marriage and family, you can't really address those subjects. I think as long as one sticks with the Biblical principles, you most certainly can advise in an area where you have no experience. However, folks often wants details- advice on how to handle a specific situation. That is where a lack of experience can be crippling... but then that begs the question "Do we need to advise people with details of how to handle their specific situation, or just stick to Biblical principles?" Or- why not allow and encourage other spiritually mature elders with Godly wives to take on marriage and family counseling? Does the pastor have to do it all?

As for the sexual component, it's just the times we live in. There have been too many horror stories (some true, some not) about clergy using their position to victimize women and children for people to not feel trepidation at the prospect of a single man as pastor. But as has been pointed out, marriage doesn't immunize a man against temptation and it doesn't prove he's not a sexual predator. As a matter of fact, many predators use marriage and family as their cover. "He couldn't be gay, he's married." Abused wives are often intimidated into covering for their husband's indiscretions, and they certainly don't want to feel the shame of having his cover blown.

There are no guarantees when you get involved with people.

Jim McLeish's picture

Unmarried pastor? I had one...1960's; 1st BC of Rockford, IL. He was Dr. Peter Mustric (now with the Lord). He was a former eye doctor, I think, and played a mean sax...yes in church. His youth pastor was Larry Brubaker for my formative high school years in the mid '60s.

He lived with his mother.

Had a solid, if unspectacular, number of years in ministry at First. I could not say whether being single affected his ministry seriously...I was too young. Too many years ago.

JMcLeish (still contemplating that dancing activity for our Golden Agers.)

Jim McLeish
Plymouth MN

SBashoor's picture

I began pastoring a small church 11.5 years ago as a single man. I was in my late 20's and definately wanted to be married, but the Lord hadn't brought her into my life yet. I pastored for almost 7.5 years as a single man, but four years ago tomorrow, I married the love of my life.

In general, the church was very supportive of me from the beginning. It helped that the previous pastor came to the church single (he married a year or so after being there). That said, I did have to put up with some well-intended ignorance, mostly in the form of ridiculous worries and suggestions (e.g., "Don't smile at the elderly women when they come in the chapel."). And there were the occassional attempts at setups that sometimes got uncomfortable.

Since being married, I've found that women are more likely to seek counseling from me/us than before. I also have an ear for things going on in the female side of the congregation that I didn't hear about quite so well before. But while my ministry is deeper in some ways, it's not fundamentally different. In fact, if attendance were the sole indicator, our church was doing better when I was single. One thing's for sure--I'm doing better now that I'm married.

I sympathize with the author to a point, but I don't think I'd call what he's facing "discimination." That's such a loaded term. It's more of a combination of idealism and ignorance. Don't get me wrong--I think it would have been more ideal for me to begin my pastorate as a married man. But when ideals mix with ignorance, the mix turns into a mess of judgmentalism, suspicion, and discourteousness. (OK, I guess, "ignorance" is a loaded term, too, but I like it better).

M. Scott Bashoor Happy Slave of Christ

rogercarlson's picture

Thanks Scott for commenting. I was hoping for yourfirst hand account for this issue.

Roger Carlson, Pastor
Berean Baptist Church