What Does the Office of Deacon and Marriage Have in Common?

Yesterday I experienced an extraordinary joy and a deeply disappointing reality check. Yesterday after attending worship and teaching Sunday School at our church my wife and I hurried off to our son’s church to attend another worship service in which he was being ordained and installed as a deacon. It was extraordinary because we hold the office in high esteem and this was our son who was being ordained.

During the economic down turn he and his partner found it necessary to close their offices and move their operations to their respective homes. Since he has three small children and no appropriate space in their home we invited him to share his mother’s home office. This turned out to be a very pleasant experience. For two years Pam was privy to most everything he did. One of the great blessings of this time for her was observing how our son, while conducting and managing his landscape architectural business, created many opportunities to minister to contractors, clients and competitors. He was not a church officer or even a small group leader. He was a Christian living out the mandates of the gospel.

Now he was taking an oath of office and being invested with the authority of Christ’s church to serve his Lord by serving His church in an official capacity. This was not a heightening of his profile to garner more business. This was not a resume builder to better prepare for a run for political office. This was not a status symbol to bolster his ego. This was taking a solemn oath that our son took with great angst. He wrestled through some significant spiritual agony regarding his preparedness for this responsibility.

Pam and I were humbled by God’s gracious kindness to us. Our son-in-law is an ordained teaching officer and senior pastor. Now our son would join ranks with him and me as an officer in the Presbyterian Church in America—more importantly in the universal church of Christ.

So why would I write that this was also a deeply disappointing reality check? To answer that question I must tell you some of the responses we heard. Somebody commented, on our attending this service, “Really, your parents came just for this?” Someone else questioned our efforts to attend and he responded, “Yes indeed, this is next to when I leave for seminary.” You see the reality check is this. People do no longer think very highly of the offices of the church. This is in no way a critique of his church since I’ve heard similar attitudes expressed in our church regarding becoming an officer.

I had an email recently from a young twenty-something. She had posted a protest on her Facebook page in opposition to swift moving tide of gay marriage. She was shocked to find a number of her Christian School classmates posting favorable comments. You see, marriage is no longer held in high regard as an institution of God. So the offices of elder and deacon in the church are no longer seen as positions of sacred honor. In reality, the church itself, in the eyes of culture, is an institution worthy of being dismantled. In fact the likes of an elementary principle just this past Holy Week took it upon herself to banish Easter from her school.

So, yesterday brought me extraordinary joy not only because my son was ordained as a deacon in Christ’s church but because in his ordination my son took his stand for the gospel! And, his church declared the relevance of the office of deacon in a culture that would deem it obsolete. This stand for the gospel was also a stand for marriage. In order to be elected, ordained and installed as a deacon it was necessary for him to be the husband of one wife (I Timothy 3:12).

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