The New York Times published an article yesterday by Erik Eckholm that investigates the challenges that unmarried evangelical seminary graduates face when looking for a pastoral position. Bluntly: It ain’t happening.

My favorite part of the article, however, is the way it highlights how American evangelicals are so motivated by the construct of “family values” that they are willing to ignore scripture in favor of these values. Need proof? Take the always quotable Al Mohler, who says that a bias against unmarried pastors is not discrimination. Then there’s this:

“Both the logic of Scripture and the centrality of marriage in society,” he said, justify “the strong inclination of congregations to hire a man who is not only married but faithfully married.”

I obviously have nothing against married people (I am one), or pastors, or married pastors, but read that quote from Mohler in light of this one from Saint Paul in 1 Corinthians:

I wish that all of you were as I am. But each of you has your own gift from God; one has this gift, another has that.

Now to the unmarried and the widows I say: It is good for them to stay unmarried, as I do. But if they cannot control themselves, they should marry, for it is better to marry than to burn with passion.

An unmarried man is concerned about the Lord’s affairs—how he can please the Lord. But a married man is concerned about the affairs of this world—how he can please his wife—and his interests are divided.

In light of this, the logic of Scripture seems far less important to Mohler than the centrality of marriage in society, doesn’t it?

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Jonathan D. Fitzgerald

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