Vol.X No.II Pg.7
April 1973

?You Know What?

Robert F. Turner

Bro. Turner:

We are in process of selecting elders. One man who is knowledgeable, well liked, a good teacher, a good leader, and sound in the faith, would be an obvious choice ---but his son (a few years back) was involved in problems with the law, and this is publicly known. Does this disqualify the father?


You said he was a "good leader." Did you forget about his son's brush with the law? Do you think the children's conduct cast no reflection upon the parents? 1TI.3:4 reads, "One that ruleth well his own house, having his children in subjection with all gravity". TIT.1:6 says, "having faithful children not accused of riot or unruly". These statements of divine wisdom are not to be considered lightly. We would be well advised, however, to note the obvious purpose of these statements. "For if a man know not how to rule his own house, how shall he take care of the church of God?" (1TI.3:5) The Holy Spirit is revealing guidelines by which we may judge a man's ability to "rule the church of God".

The selection of bishops necessitates the expression of judgment on the part of the congregation. In ACT.14:23 cheirotoneo indicates "to stretch out the hand, to constitute by voting". (cf., 2CO.8:19) The relative nature of many of the "qualifications" is apparent; (is this man sufficiently "apt to teach" to lead this particular church?) and saints are asked to decide -- not the rules for eligibility, but the extent and degree to which certain men qualify by these rules. Churches that ignore God's standards and the tests He gives for applying them, have none but themselves to blame for disaster. "Train up a child in the way he should go, and even when he is old he will not depart from it." PRO.22:6 is not a statement of the impossibility of apostasy, nor is it an absolute standard for measuring parents. After the nature of proverbs, it states a general rule.

Insurance companies use actuary tables to compute risks. These show that a man who has had one automobile accident is more likely to have further accidents than the man who's record is completely clean. The risk increases as does the number of "moving traffic violations". Now, no matter how accurate these tables are in computing the over-all picture, they do not tell us what -a particular case will be. But since there is no way of foreseeing a particular case, it would be foolish indeed to ignore the "general rule;" and even when circumstances seem to indicate an exception to the usual indicators, we should proceed with extreme caution.

The answer to the question must be decided by those who know the man and his family best. Is there sufficient reason to believe that the son's misconduct was due to the father's failure in "ruling well his own house"? A teenager's brush with the law (I have no details of the matter) does not necessarily indicate poor upbringing. But a reputation of failures is a bad sign, and it would be unscriptural for a church to take such a risk.