Culturally, marital fidelity was not as important in the first century as was maintaining family unity. Wives were necessary for continuing the family name for inheritance and procreation, but in the Greco–Roman culture, mistresses were commonplace.
However, when men became believers, everything in their cultural lifestyle changed, and men had to maintain new standards.
The home became the first proving ground for a deacon’s faithfulness, his commitment to principles, and his family’s willingness to follow his leadership. If it did not work in the family, it would not work in the church. The same standard is set for pastors or bishops (Phil 1:1).
Monogamy did not become law for the Romans until AD 212 (through the lex Antoniana de civitate [Law or Edict of Antoninus of citizenship]), but Jews were exempt until AD 393, when Emperor Theodosius made a special law against polygamy among the Jews. However, 1 Timothy 3:12 refers to much more than monogamy.
This principle of fidelity is crucial because it highlights a symptom of a character weakness that affects all relationships: “The perversity of the unfaithful will destroy them” (Prov 11:3). Inevitably, “the unfaithful will be caught by their lust” (11:6). Unreliability in one area spreads into all areas: “Confidence in an unfaithful man in time of trouble is like a bad tooth and a foot out of joint” (25:19).
Men are expected to have learned these biblical principles (especially from Proverbs) to be “ruling their children and their own houses well.” If they are not governed by these biblical principles at home, men will be unprincipled and impulsive in the church as well. As a man leads his family, so he will lead in a church.
Since leaders have the task of maturing every man to be a biblical leader of his family and community and to serve the church, he must first be an example in his home. It is not an issue of being perfect, but being honest and transparent in gaining respect so others, especially one’s family, is willing to follow your example. Become a learner from the best example you know.
“Thank You, Lord, for Your plan for marriage—-if only men would listen to it. May my faithfulness to my spouse demonstrate my faithfulness to You, the lover of my soul.”