Today's NYT has an interesting story about single pastors and their inability to get hired because churches want to hire married men with children. Naturally, there's a justification:
R. Albert Mohler Jr., president of Southern Baptist Theological Seminary in Louisville, Ky., said it was unfair to accuse churches of discrimination because that word implied something “wrongful.”Now, I know, I know: I'm agnostic. And I also believe the Apostle Paul was kind of nuts. But Paul did write a fair amount of scripture, including lots of stuff that suggested that he saw marriage as desirable only insofar as it kept horny men from committing sins of passion. Otherwise, he was pretty down on the institution. Just a couple of quotes from I Corinthians Chapter 7.
“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.”
Mr. Mohler said he tells the students at his seminary that “if they remain single, they need to understand that there’s going to be a significant limitation on their ability to serve as a pastor.”
8 Now to the unmarried[a] and the widows I say: It is good for them to stay unmarried, as I do. 9 But if they cannot control themselves, they should marry, for it is better to marry than to burn with passion.If a church decides that it needs a married pastor, I'm not going to dispute it. And certainly, I'm not a fan of the priestly celibacy requirement in the Roman Catholic church--though, again, it's not my place to dispute it. But if you're going to turn away single ministers based on "the logic of scripture" as opposed to "scripture itself," it seems like you've already gone down the slippery path of moral relativism that Mr. Mohler likes to yell about in other cases. More to the point, it's kind of sad to see churches deprive themselves of the service of dedicated ministers who happen to be single. And those churches shouldn't fool themselves: there's lots of biblical argumentation against their position.
32 I would like you to be free from concern. An unmarried man is concerned about the Lord’s affairs—how he can please the Lord. 33 But a married man is concerned about the affairs of this world—how he can please his wife— 34 and his interests are divided. An unmarried woman or virgin is concerned about the Lord’s affairs: Her aim is to be devoted to the Lord in both body and spirit. But a married woman is concerned about the affairs of this world—how she can please her husband. 35 I am saying this for your own good, not to restrict you, but that you may live in a right way in undivided devotion to the Lord.