No-stick Criticism and Smooching Women

Two discussion points from recent elder training regarding elder qualifications described in Titus 1:6: What does it mean to be ‘above reproach’? and I’m married, so obviously I’m the ‘husband of one wife.’

A man who is above reproach is one who, when a criticism or accusation is sent his way, has a life of evidence that ensures it does not stick. The criticism is inconsistent with the evidence of the man’s life. I ran into this just recently. Someone spread the word that I’m a lover of money. Not sure what spawned the accusation but, on the face of it, it was flat-out false. The men to whom I’m accountable at FiveStone Churches know my lifestyle and my salary and my behavior in ministry. And my wife handles money and possessions with extraordinary biblical fidelity and wisdom. So the accusation and criticism do not stick, and that's the end of it. I am above reproach in my handling of money and possessions. (And it better stay that way.)

Even though the accusation obviously was false, it still was thrown my way. Does the biblical standard require that accusations never are thrown at an elder? Of course not. In fact, accusations are certain to be thrown at an elder as he does the work of shepherding. Sometimes the accusations have some truth, but sometimes they come from people who simply don't like the counsel they've received or don't like the way it was delivered. Does the biblical standard require perfection, so that an elder never sins? Of course not. But the tenor of the elder’s life must be that he handles his sin biblically and quickly and continues to grow in godliness.

It’s common for men to pass by the qualification of husband of one wife and say, Well, at least I’ve got that one covered. The Lord’s standard of marital fidelity extends beyond the simple fact of being married only to one woman (Matthew 5:27-28, Ephesians 5:25-33). A one woman man not only remains married to the woman but also fights the good fight to be a one woman man in his mind and in his real-life relationships with other women. So, it would be a qualification problem if a married man has a reputation of speaking flirtatiously with women or has a habit of grabbing or nuzzling or smooching women. So a man's been married to the same woman for years, but he dishonors his wife—and displeases the Lord—with his words or by letting his eyes wander or by grabbing or nuzzling or smooching women. And, even if a man doesn’t overtly act out, women often have an innate ability to sense this problem in a man. They can smell it. A few of them may even like receiving that attention from a church leader. That’s just a world of trouble waiting to bust.

So what’s a man to do? Fight to be a true one woman man who not only legally is married to one woman, but seeks to honor the marriage relationship in all arenas with all women. Men would be wise to ponder the ways of Jesus with women. Look at how Jesus related to women. Think about the total trust and love with which women responded to him. That would make all the difference.