Friday, April 07, 2006

Flex Your Theological Muscle!

Tell me please, O thou astute reader! Is it proper and Biblical for a pastor or elder who has fallen into fornication or adultery to continue in his ministry as a leader? Why or Why not?

Also, is there any other sins that would, should, could, preclude a man from a position of ministry and church authority?


Daniel said...

Scripture is pretty clear about how to deal with sin.

Being a pastor or an elder requires that a person be above reproach - anyone who falls into sexual sin is hardly above reproach, and out not to be shepherding others. Likwise an elder/pastor has to have a good reputation outside the church - sexual sin does not allow or permit such a thing.

That being said, if the pastor or elder sincerely repents of the sin, and demonstrates the reality of that repentance over time such that the reproach in the congregation is no longer felt, and the reputation in the community is no longer a blight - I see nothing that stops a pastor from being restored to the ministry. He may never be able to preach where he has "soiled the bed" again - but there is nothing in scripture that demands a person be eternally denied the very ministry God has gifted him to do.

Now, repentance, reproach and reputation are not measured on some scale that we can take with us and use everywhere - so depending on the nature of the sin, the genuiness of the repentance, the reproach and the reputation the appropriate action could be anything from a public rebuke (Pastor! Before God and this congregation I rebuke you for teaching this unmarried couple that living together is as marriage in God's eyes!"), or so "dastardly" that he needs not only be rebuked, and removed from ministry indefinitely - but may even need to hear the gospel for himself!

Yet inbetween these extremes there is room for forgiveness and restoration. A pastor who falls into sexual sin ought to be removed from the ministry immediately - but if he is genuinely broken over his sin - demonstrated by a renewed fervor in repentance, a complete willingness to be disciplined, and a profound reversal of attitudes and whatnot - then if the Lord calls him to a pulput - who will deny the Lord?

Having said all that - the problem with a pastor who commits adultery is that they were not in the Spirit in the first place - and should never have been given a pulpit.

Preaching has become an occupational choice in our culture - instead of the high calling reserved for those who are truly filled with God's Spirit and empowered for the ministry.

Personally, I would find it quite difficult to re-instate a pastor who committed adultery.

Jim said...

Thanks Daniel, once again you have submitted a well thought out and sound recommendation to this question.


Joe said...

Any pastor who commits any sin of any kind any time for any reason is worthy of being dismissed.

But just because he is worthy of being dismissed does not mean he should be.

Nor does it mean he should not be.

There must be a process by which it is determined whether the sin committed has a suffecient impact on the congregation and community to render the pastor no longer able to carry out his commission.

There are also the issues of repentance, forgiveness and/or restitution.

An unrepentant pastor should, in some cases, be dismissed.

In other cases, restoration is in order.

These are things that must be measured carefully and with the guidance of both the scripture and the Holy Spirit.

I personally know pastors who have committed grevious acts who have repented, been forgiven and restored to service.

I know others who have refused to even discuss their sin. Until they do, they should not serve.

It was after David's sin that he was called "a man after God's own heart."

Yet still he served, albeit at a lesser level.

God is no less merciful today.

Sometimes men are.

Jim said...

Thanks Joe, sounds like solid advice to me.

God bless,

Chuck said...

A staff member at my church lied for several months about some important school-related matters. He finally admitted, and the pastor and the deacons constructed a six-month restoration and counselling plan. When the staff member failed to meet the requirements he agreed to, he was fired due to his lack of repentance and remorse. I think sin is sin, and must be dealt with properly, especially in the life of a leader and minister.

Jim said...

Chuck, thanks for stopping by.

I agree with your account here. Your leadership did the right thing in giving this person time to express his repentance and remorse. Sadly, too many pastors today have no backbone and compromise rather than lose political points.

God bless,

Modern Day Magi said...

No one can expect a pastor to be sinless. I know that is not the point of this post. We are talking about big public sins. Not quiet ones no one knows about. The problem is if we dont see the sin it doesnt mean it isnt there.
However the big, public sins like, adultery, fraud, abusive behavior, incorrect teaching etc are valid evidence that a person is not that clse to God at the moment. Thus they should not be in leadership or ministry. This should not exclude them forever, after all Paul was the chief of sinners and he wrote the Bible.
God uses all sorts, if He only used the most righteous of people we could assume it was their righteousness and not God's. By using those who have had to come a long way through a battle with sin it is clear that it is God's strenght working in them.


Jim said...

MDM, that is a good summary. I think the point is that as a pastor or leader, he is looked up to and therefore must be held accountable and responsible for his actions.

To not deal with the public sin of a pastor would be to bring reproach upon the Church and the name of our Lord Jesus Christ. It would also do much to damage the witness in the community.