by Robert Brow  March 1999

1 Timothy 3:2,12

Here is an alternative translation of the two texts about marriage discipline. It reminds me of the exact male and female mutualities in 1 Cor. 7:1-16. -mias gunaikos andra- a one woman man (1 Tim. 3:2) -enos andra gune- a one man woman (1 Tim 3:12)

In both cases we have the opposite of a person who is into -porneia- the sleeping around which is again and again viewed as a denial of Christian love in the NT.

These translations would solve a lot of problems in our current qualifications for ministry. In this case the prohibition applies to those who are to serve as elders of Christian congregations. So the modern equivalent would not merely be priests and deacons but any members of a parish council. How many men or women would we have to exclude from ministry of any kind if one had to check the status of their marriage documents?

The exclusion of people who sleep around also fits in with Titus 1:7-8 and 2:4-5 where there is no question of legal marriages but rather the self control that is required.

The idea of a legal marriage document from a priest, and consequent bigamy if one engaged in another legal marriage, is less than a thousand years old. It would have no relevance in NT times. There could be a legal betrothal before marriage, but for millions of people all over the world marriage was by beginning to live together. In Joseph's case he was betrothed but not married to Mary (Matthew 1:18, 25).

Actually there is not a single case in the Bible where a priest, rabbi, or judge issued a marriage document or was even present at a marriage ceremony. The woman of Samaria had lived with five men, and the one she was currently having an affair with was not her recognized -anyr- man (John 4:17).

Our current rules for checking out the marriage status of men and women for any kind of ministry is strangely inconsistent. A person can sleep around before a legal marriage or after a legal marriage, be given absolution, and can be accepted to function as a deacon, priest, or missionary. Checking out whether the person is a one man woman, or a one woman man (as opposed to one who sleeps around) makes much more sense to me.

The rule in 1 Timothy is simple to apply. Is this person currently into -porneia- sleeping around? The question of a previous legal document is not relevant since there was no such thing.

2 Timothy