What about the children? Age and Family Requirement of Elders

A friend of mine turned down being an elder due to the fact that his children weren't of an age yet to believe on their own.

I told him what I just wrote in the previous post. We also delved deeper into the two passages that deal with the issue at hand.

Titus 1:6b

"His children are believers and not open to the charge of debauchery or insubordination."

1 Timothy 3:4-5

"4 He must manage his own household well, with all dignity keeping his children submissive, 5 for if someone does not know how to manage his own household, how will he care for God's church?"

In Titus, it appears that the children must be older, be believers, not known for debauchery or insubordination. This is the verse that seems to be used to say that an elder needs to be an older individual.

In Timothy, we see something different. It appears that the children are still in the household and are living in submission to their father. This would seem to imply that the father is one that has younger children, which could allow for a younger man to be an elder.

If you have children slanted towards debauchery, you should probably not be an elder in the church. We could hypothesize all day on why that is, but I don't think that would be fruitful. The point is that Paul considered the state of a child a reflection of the state of the father. He made the children's state a requirement for eldership. If you have a wayward son, then eldership is probably not the place in the church for you.

I think there would be exceptions for those who didn't become a Christian until later in life or in cases where everyone feels that the individual did everything they could to raise a godly child. The overriding principle in choosing elders is to choose those who can insure the church has proper doctrine and proper direction, not to have a legal checklist that needs to be fulfilled.

One word of particular interest in the discussion is the word "submissive" from the 1 Timothy passage. This word is the same word that is used in 3 other places in the New Testament. Feel free to open up your own Bibles to get the larger context.

1 Corinthians 9:12 For the ministry of this service is not only supplying the needs of the saints, but is also overflowing in many thanksgivings to God. 13 By their approval of this service, they will glorify God because of your submission flowing from your confession of the gospel of Christ, and the generosity of your contribution for them and for all others, 14 while they long for you and pray for you, because of the surpassing grace of God upon you.

1 Timothy 2:11 Let a woman learn quietly with all submissiveness. 12 I do not permit a woman to teach or to exercise authority over a man; rather, she is to remain quiet.

Galatians 2:4 Yet because of false brothers secretly brought in--who slipped in to spy out our freedom that we have in Christ Jesus, so that they might bring us into slavery-- 5 to them we did not yield in submission even for a moment, so that the truth of the gospel might be preserved for you.

The word emphasizes a release of one's will to the will of another. Submission is doing that which we might not want to do because it is the will of another, yet we do it any way because of the authority of the other's will. If you desire to be an elder and you have children that are not of age, then you need to insure that they are submitting to your will and that your will is one that is worthy of submitting to.

I think we can conclude that Paul allowed younger men to be elders in Ephesus.

Raising godly children is a careful balance of giving them just enough rope that they don't hang themselves, yet not keeping them too close that they will just fall when they don't have us there helping with the rope. An elder of the church should know how much rope to give people. The way his children act will reveal whether he knows how to do that or not.

Watch out for the potholes.