Therefore an overseer must be above reproach, the husband of one wife . . . 1 Timothy 3:2
I’m sure that women probably have flaws that are characteristic for them, but today, I’m addressing a flaw that is usually more commonly attributed to men. Not all men are prone to excesses of it, but there’s a little bit of it in almost all of us. I’m talking about our inappropriate attitude towards women. When we read in the Bible about King Solomon who had 700 wives, who were princesses, and 300 concubines (1 Kings 11:3), most of us have some primal instinct in us that thinks that sounds like a good idea. We all have a little piece of us that wants to be the king – for men to want to be us and for women to want to be with us.
In today’s passage though, while continuing his description of a Christian leader who’s beyond reproach, Paul said that such an individual must be the husband of one wife. This passage has apparently been used by some to suggest that pastors cannot be single, divorced, or remarried. I’m told however, by those who know much more than me*, that this phrase – the husband of one wife – literally translates as a one-woman man. Paul knew and understood men. He understood our desire to be the king and he also knew that our self-destructive nature stood in opposition to the Christian life. A minister of the gospel of Christ – which we all are as Christians – cannot be a womanizer. If we’re married, the world, and our wives, need to know that we are one-woman men.
There are few things that will be seen as more hypocritical by the world than for a man to tell others how to live pure lives, while he himself isn’t doing so himself. There are few things as destructive to a marriage as another woman in the picture – even if it’s a digital woman. As Christian men, the world needs to see that we live as God has commanded, in a loving relationship with our wives. As husbands, our wives should be able to expect the same from us.
Daily then, we must look at our marriages, asking ourselves some tough questions. Does my wife know that I’m a one-woman man? Is there anyone or anything stealing my affection and attention? This doesn’t even have to be an affair. It can be excessive work, flirtatious relationships, a drug addiction, or pornography. These things all prevent us from being who we’re supposed to be in our home lives. Our wives need to know that we’re dedicated to our marriage. As Christians, we must be one-woman men.
*Special thanks to Pastor Andy O’Rourke – my brother-in-law – for helping me with today’s passage!