The forum for teaching, teachers and teachers-to-be.

Should Adulterous Pastors Be Restored?

Collapse
X
  • Filter
  • Time
  • Show
Clear All
new posts

  • Should Adulterous Pastors Be Restored?

    R. Kent Hughes and John H. Armstrong

    “Genuine forgiveness does not necessarily imply restoration to leadership,” former CT editor Kenneth Kantzer once wrote after the moral failure of several prominent evangelical leaders. Yet the impulse to link forgiveness with restoration to ministry remains strong. Here two pastor-theologians argue for the importance of keeping separate the restoration to the body of Christ and restoration to pastoral leadership.

    The North American church is seriously vexed by the question, “What shall we do with an adulterous pastor?” Over the past decade, the church has been repeatedly staggered by revelations of immoral conduct by some of its most respected leaders. How do we respond to those who have sexually fallen and disgraced themselves, shamed their families, and debased their office?

    The typical pattern goes like this: The pastor is accused and convicted of sexual sin. He confesses his sin, often with profound sorrow. His church or denominational superiors prescribe a few months, or often one year, in which time he is encouraged to obtain professional counsel. Then he is restored to his former office, sometimes in another location. He is commonly regarded as a “wounded healer,” one who now knows what it means to fall, to experience the grace of God profoundly.

    While each situation must be handled with pastoral wisdom, and some fallen pastors indeed might someday be restored to leadership, we believe this increasingly common scenario is both biblically incorrect and profoundly harmful to the well-being of the fallen pastor, his marriage, and the church of Jesus Christ. Our Lord Jesus was tempted in all points just as we are, yet it was his testing, not any failure, that made him strong. If we do not think clearly, we may be subtly encouraging people to grievous sin so they might experience more grace and thus minister more effectively. Incredibly, in the present context, some are saying things that imply just this notion.

    The Forgiveness Approach

    The commonly held view. reasons that a repentant and forgiven minister who was previously qualified for pastoral office remains qualified on the basis of God’s forgiveness. Was he qualified previously? Has he confessed his sin? Has God forgiven him? Then we must also.

    This logic rests upon the unbiblical assumption that forgiveness of sin is equivalent to the “blamelessness” (or unimpeachable character) required of pastors in 1 Timothy 3:2 and Titus 1:6. If this thesis is accepted, all God requires is that a fallen pastor be forgiven.

    But this confuses the basis of our fellowship with Christ with public leadership and office in church. No one argues that the fallen minister cannot be forgiven. No one should argue that he cannot be brought back into the fellowship of Christ’s visible church. But to forgive a fallen pastor and to restore him to membership in the church is much different than restoring him to the pastoral office.

    The “forgiveness approach” is inadequate because it does not deal realistically with two facts: First, adultery is a great sin; and second, pastoral adultery is an even greater sin.

    Oft-repeated fallacies sometimes achieve the status of received truth--such as the notion that there is no essential difference between mental adultery and the actual physical act (see Matt. 5:27-28; James 2:10). To the contrary, we believe, in concert with the historic interpretation of the church, that while lust, jealousy, pride, and hatred will send a person to hell as surely as their outward manifestations (adultery, fornication, and murder), the physical manifestations are greater sins became of the damage they do to both the person who sins and the ones sinned against.

    Adultery is a great sin precisely because it breaks the covenant of marriage. It violates another’s body. It may prove to be grounds for divorce. Mental adultery does none of this. Jesus’ intention in Matthew 5:27-28 was not to reduce adultery to the level of lust, but to show that lust would destroy the soul as surely as adultery.

    Likewise, compare the mental sin of hatred with the act of murder (see Matt. 5:21-22). In one the person who hates is harmed by the hatred, but in the other a life is taken. There is a difference!

    Further, the immensity of adultery is seen in 1 Corinthians 6:18-20, where the apostle Paul argues that sexual sin is “against one’s own body.” The context of this passage reveals that sexual sin is in a category of its own. Sexual relationships violate the union that exists between a man and woman wherein they become “one flesh” (Gen. 2:24). It is the depth of this union, recognized by God with a covenant, that shows how profound its violation is in the light of eternity.

    Charles Hodge wrote in the last century that 1 Corinthians 6 teaches that fornication “is altogether peculiar in its effects upon the body; not so much in its physical as in its moral and spiritual effects.” Paul is telling the Corinthians that one’s entire body and soul, hence all that a person is as a human personality, is involved in sexual relationship. Hence, profound damage results from such sin.

    Hodge further says that adultery is a sin against one’s own body because it is “incompatible … with the design of its creation, and with its immortal destiny.” Contemporary New Testament scholar Gordon Fee writes in the same vein, “The unique nature of sexual sin is not so much that one sins against one’s own self, but against one’s own body as viewed in terms of its place in redemptive history” (emphasis ours).

    Pastoral adultery, moreover, is an even greater sin. Why? Some sins are more damaging than others precisely because of who it is that commits them. As the Westminster Larger Catechism (Questions 150-51) reasons, persons who are eminent for their profession, gifts, and office are particularly serious offenders because of their influence upon others. This added seriousness is found in every case of a minister who commits adultery. Add to this James 3:1, which suggests that pastors will be held to stricter judgment, and we have a strong argument that pastoral adultery is an even graver sin than adultery in general.

    The forgiveness approach, though appealed to by many today as a compassionate response to sexually fallen ministers, actually lacks compassion: it does not deal with the depth of the issue itself.

    But why does adultery disqualify a minister from office?

    The Blameless Approach

    Straightforward explanations of what it is that qualifies one for pastoral ministry are given in several places in the Pastoral Epistles. 1 Timothy 4:12 provides a summary statement: “… set an example for the believers in speech, in life, in love, in faith and in purity.” Titus 1:6 further adds, “An elder must be blameless…” The Greek word here means “not to be laid hold of,” or unassailable. William Hendriksen says of this blamelessness, “Enemies may bring all manner of accusations, but these charges are proved to be empty whenever fair methods of investigations are applied.”

    Adultery is not the only sin that disqualifies a minister from office, but it is one of the more visible and confusing sins plaguing the church in our time.

    What is particularly troublesome about this sin today is the abuse of power that often attends it. Deep pain is brought to the sexual partner in a clergy affair, and even deeper pain to the minister’s wife. The minister, given an honored office through which he is called to serve abused and vulnerable people, violates that very trust by becoming, himself, a violator.

    Anglican Michael Peers, speaking at the Toronto Centre for the Family’s symposium on sexual abuse by clergy, explains, “[This] is a deep-rooted and dark” problem, and it is often protected by the twin demons of “denial and control.” Don Posterski writes, “When the power [of ministry] is used for sexual gratification it clearly constitutes the sexual abuse of power.”

    It saddens us that so few “fallen” leaders recognize the abuse of power inherent to pastoral adultery. And even fewer are willing to discuss the destruction of trust that their sins have effected. Many borrow psychotherapeutic concepts such as healing and recovery as rationales for returning to pastoral ministry, but with no genuine recognition of the pathology that manifests itself in the abuse of power.

    The consensus of church history argues strongly that pastoral adultery disqualifies the minister. Lutheran historian Carl A. Volz categorically states in Pastoral Life and Practice in the Early Church that the church debarred pastors from public ministry “through moral lapse” and “heresy.” He notes that ordination did not protect presbyters: what was conferred could be removed. The noted second-century presbyter, Hippolytus, powerfully assailed immorality among church leaders and insisted on their immediate removal from office. The early second-century document The Teaching of the Apostles states that the one who had been ordained but subsequently disobeyed God’s Word should be disqualified, because the man had lied in taking his vows of loyalty and purity before Christ and his church. Such a violation of ordination vows was seen as an egregious breach of the third commandment.

    The same views were held by the Protestant Reformers. Calvin, in The Register of the Company of Pastors, prescribes: “In order to obviate all scandals of conduct it will be needful to have a form of discipline for ministers … to which all are to submit themselves. This will help ensure that the minister is treated with respect and the Word of God is not brought into dishonor and scorn by the evil fame of ministers. Moreover, as discipline will be imposed on him who merits it, so also there will be no need to suppress slanders and false reports that may unjustly be uttered against those who are innocent.”

    As has been established, the office requires the minister to be “blameless.” There can be no doubt that 1 Timothy 3:1-7 requires, among other qualities, that the episkopos (or overseer of the church) be a “one-woman man,” that is, a man of moral purity whose wife is his only sexual partner. He is required to be a man who keeps the covenant of God and keeps his “marriage bed pure” (Heb. 13:4). Paul stressed to the church in Ephesus, where sexual sin was common among pagan unbelievers, there should not be “even a hint of sexual immorality” in the church (Eph. 5:3).

    Tragically, covenant breaking of this type places a lasting reproach on the fallen minister, and this will have long-term consequences. Wise Solomon gave it wistful expression: “But a man who commits adultery lacks judgment; whoever does so destroys himself. Blows and disgrace are his lot, and his shame will never be wiped away” (Prov. 6:32-33, NIV).

    One of the troubling questions often raised regarding this matter of being “blameless” is this: Is the public knowledge of the sin the issue in the minister being blameless, or is there something in the nature of the sin itself that makes blamelessness a deeper matter than public knowledge? To put it bluntly, can the man become blameless by moving to another community and church and starting over? Here, it is often argued, others will not know of his past failure.

    But a change in geography will not diminish the blame, because the sin is so dynamically disintegrative. As such, it will likely come to light again, as John Chrysostom, the early church bishop (347-407) explained: “The minister’s shortcomings simply cannot be concealed. Even the most trivial soon get known.”

    Perhaps some might eventually become qualified to return again to pastoral office, perhaps after being ordained again. And it cannot be exegetically proven that a fallen minister can never be restored to office. But this does not argue against the flow of our understanding, for the vital question the church faces in our time is not what might happen in exceptional cases, but rather, how can we protect and help the woman or women sinned against by the minister? How can we minister to the pastor’s wife and children, those most sinned against in this lapse? What can be done to preserve the church spiritually and morally? What are we to do to help this minister begin the long ordeal of sorting out his devastated life?

    Adultery establishes that the fallen minister is not able to serve with integrity. The issue is not usefulness to the church or giftedness in the pulpit. To have stood before the flock, leading them in holy worship week after week, preaching the Word of God as his servant, and yet to have been committing adultery reveals a massively toxic character flaw that poisons all of life. One fallen minister, many years after his own failure, writes: “In my case, moral failure was the sin which was visible to the church. There were, much to my chagrin, other issues which were perhaps more heinous to God than that which was visible to man. It takes time to root these out and replace them with godly characteristics.”

    Sober warning has been given in 1 Corinthians 9:25-27, where the apostle Paul argues that the lack of diligent restraint of the flesh may lead one into apostasy. This danger needs to be weighed carefully in dealing with pastors who have fallen. Consider how subtly sexual sin permeates the whole human personality--whether illicit sex is used to feed a person’s sense of power, need for affection, self-image, sense of desirability and attractiveness, hedonistic drive, or all of these--and you will sense the danger here. We sincerely believe that remaining in public ministry will in some cases foster deeper self-deception, leading men to eternal rain in the final day.

    What Then Shall We Do?

    The fallen minister who confesses sin, seeks God’s grace, and desires to remain in fellowship with the church of Christ, must be welcomed and received as any fallen Christian. He must be forgiven as Jesus commands (Matt. 18:22). But forgiveness and restoration to the fellowship of the church does not mean the former minister now meets the qualifications for holding the office of pastor/elder.

    The church is not to punish the repenting man who has fallen. But refusing to return him to the role of pastoral ministry is not punishment. To remove a fallen minister is to honor Christ’s holy standards; it is to follow the wise counsel and pattern of leaders over the centuries; it is to protect the man himself and his family; and it is to guard the church body, loved so dearly by the Chief Shepherd.

    The Bible tells of several prominent fallen leaders who had significant roles after their failure. Moses, David, and Peter immediately come to mind. But we must not rush to employ these three examples in discussing morally fallen pastors, Consider several important matters: (1) Moses’ sin of murder came 40 years before his leadership began, and he spent a virtual lifetime in the desert following this serious fall. (2) David’s sin would have brought the death penalty to anyone else. Further, he was a Middle Eastern, harem-keeping potentate, not a domestic role model for New Testament shepherds. Remember also that his kingdom and family never knew peace after his moral turpitude-his throne never regained its former stability. (3) Peter’s sin was serious, but it was not “against the body” (1 Cor. 6:18), and while it was a character sin, it was not the kind of volitional and cavalier deception that is characteristic of adultery. Neither was it premeditated, prolonged, or repeated in darkness.

    We conclude with the wise plea and rationale of a fallen anonymous minister to his fellow servants who have fallen: “The question is character and integrity. Yours are shattered. I plead with you, face the issue now! God’s grace does restore. There is hope. However, that requires a process, much time, and even more grace. Confess, step down. Become accountable. Seek the cleansing and healing you need. Do it this day, do it now!”

    R. Kent Hughes is pastor of College Church in Wheaton, Illinois, and author of numerous books, including Are Evangelicals Born Again? (Crossway). John H. Armstrong is director of Reformation & Revival Ministries and author of Can Fallen Pastors Be Restored? The Church’s Response to Sexual Misconduct (Moody), which expands on the ideas in this article.

  • #2
    During the 1960's and 70's Bob Harrington, who was known as the Chaplain of Bourbon Street, was one of the most famous preachers in America. He fell into sin and his ministry ended. He later repented and turned from his sin and went back to serving God but not in the public way he did before his sin. You can find an account of his failure and restoration here:

    Chastened Chaplain



    Clyde Herrin's Blog
    Comment>

    • #3
      Bob Harrington, one of the most famous preachers in America? I haven't heard of him and he doesn't have a wikipedia entry.

      He says he was converted at the age of 30? He was raised a Christian and by his own statement, "for 21 years I considered myself a Christian and was a "good church member."" Claiming to to have been converted at 30 is just a way some people dismiss their immorality before they were married. Becoming a preacher at the age of 30 was a career move. But, then he divorced his wife for a younger woman, and his ministry fell apart, after years of living a lavish lifestyle. He already pulled the "converted" card, and you can't play that card twice. So, he played the "repented and turned from his sin and went back to serving God..." but that was when he was too old to continue being immoral (nearly 70).

      I'm not aware of any immorality in the lives of the the Apostles before they met Jesus. Matthew was accused of being a sinner, but the accusers were only judging him from their self-righteous standards. The Apostles never "converted" to the religion of which they were raised. The Apostles also never engaged in sexual immorality after they become followers of Jesus. Judas betrayed Jesus, but he's not counted among the Saints of God. Peter denied Christ on one occasion, but that wasn't premeditated or a lifestyle.

      From what little I've gleaned about Bob Harrington, he never demonstrated the character of a man of God fit to be a Christian leader. An adulterous preacher has disqualified himself from ever being a Christian leader again. If an adulterous preacher has repented, he should serve a non-leadership role. It's not just because the preacher has revealed his true character, something that we can't know has changed even if he says he has repented, but because excusing immorality in high places, even among men who have truly repented, damages the whole church. Other men will see the excused affair and feel freer to have affairs themselves. And, the restored preacher himself is now compromised in his ability to uphold moral standards among his followers and peers.
      Comment>

      • #4
        Originally posted by Cornelius View Post
        Claiming to to have been converted at 30 is just a way some people dismiss their immorality before they were married.
        Have you ever read the "Confessions of St. Augustine"? He lived a pretty sexual immoral life (prostitutes and fornication) before his conversion. He followed other religions including astrology. I believe his conversion happened at 32-33 years of age, he spoke of great grief, guilt and remorse made obvious by his writings.

        I realize in the context of your response you were saying this about Bob Harrington - I hope you are not ignoring Romans 7. I whole heartedly agree with you though, because people view fornication and other thoughts and actions as a matter of timing. They think when they get married previous sins will thereafter just disappear, there is nothing to repent of, when in reality the sinfulness continues in the marriage covenant.

        God bless,
        William
        Comment>

        • #5
          I haven't read Confessions of St. Augustine. But, Augustine grew up in the pagan African nation of Algeria, with a pagan father. After he converted, he became one of the great saints of history, rather than using the church to live in luxury while committing adultery, only to fall in disgrace and then claim repentance when approaching 70 years of age.

          I do believe in conversion, even after being raised nominally Christian. But, I think more often than not, "conversion" is an excuse used by professing Christians, raised as Christians, to dismiss the immorality of their youth. In reality, there has been no conversion, they've just moved on in life to where immorality is less tempting. I'd prefer that they copped to youthful indiscretions than pretend that they've converted. I'm not saying they're not Christians, I'm just saying that if they were Christians before, the difference between now and then isn't conversion. And, if they weren't Christians before (in spite of claiming to be Christian at the time) then why should anyone believe them now, when they have a record of saying they're Christian when they're not?[
          Comment>

          • #6
            Colors were disabled in the forum Cornelius. I disabled the color code showing in your post (ya art lazy).

            God bless,
            William
            Comment>

            • #7
              Originally posted by Cornelius View Post
              Bob Harrington, one of the most famous preachers in America? I haven't heard of him and he doesn't have a wikipedia entry.
              How old are you? He was famous in the 1960's and 70's. I remember him very well but I am 74 years old.
              Clyde Herrin's Blog
              Comment>

              • #8
                Originally posted by theophilus View Post
                How old are you? He was famous in the 1960's and 70's. I remember him very well but I am 74 years old.
                I'm half your age. I don't know much about preachers of the 20th century unless they have a Wikipedia entry. :)

                I haven't really found any information about Harrington except what has come directly from him, such as, "I was wearing all this gaudy stuff that you have to wear as a successful sales person. I had a gold medal around my neck, an $18,000 Rolex watch, and a five-carat diamond ring. I was wearing ostrich boots and a $2,500 suit."

                I'm suspicious of any American raised in the church but not claiming salvation until into his 20s or later (when it became practical for him to claim salvation), add to that his own confession to flamboyance and luxury after he says he was saved. And, he committed adultery... knock me over with a feather. The only reason I'd think such a man would hesitate to engage in adultery is out of fear of derailing his gravy train, which is exactly what happened.

                He's now 88 years old (I think). Maybe he's sincere about "going back to God" (assuming he was ever there in their in the first place). I think one purpose of growing old is to be humbled, helping us turn more to God. I don't even know why anyone would wear an $18,000 watch, except to celebrate obscenity. Such a watch is no more practical or beautiful than a $100 watch, but is an invitation to be robbed or judged as obscene.




                Comment>

                • #9
                  Forgive me beforehand but this is my view on the matter, I believe that Christians can be the most unforgiving people on Earth, repentance is between the person and God and yes you look at peoples fruits but too many just outright condemn the person instead of giving them another chance.

                  Let me just run this by you, I was born a bastard child and adopted at 1-1/2 and my stepfathers family loves to let me know it, my stepfathers side of my family well they're the "Christians" I don't mean real Christians I mean better than you look down their nose at you Christians, they divorced when I was 12 and by 18 I went to jail and faced 40 years in prison and of the 4 months I spent in county jail they came to see me once and even then it was condescending and ever since I have been silently shunned, if something were to happen they'd always look at me like I did it even passing little accusations although I have worked hard and done right for 20 years, and of the 20 years I have been a professional mechanic and am the best around my town never once have they called me or asked "hey man my car is doing this, or my car is making this sound" but in all honesty if not for them I would have never sought out what real Christianity is.

                  I know that probably sounds like a rant but its really not, I have dealt with bitterness and unforgiveness even though it comes back to bite me sometimes, and I am trying not to be judgmental but I am stating facts.

                  The reason I posted all that was for this, sometimes you have to fall far to see where you fell from, everyone deserves a second chance, did God not give all of us a 2nd, 3rd,4th, bazzillionth chance, and pastors who have committed adultery if they bear fruits of repentance then absolutely restore them because someone who has impuned Gods name and has been dealt with by God will hardly want to do it again, take Jim Bakker for example, I do believe he has repented, although every time I see him I think of the huge scandal that he made for himself, but that is between him and God and out of love for him and God I will remove those condemning thoughts from my mind and give him the benefit of the doubt.

                  And since I know your all wondering I was involved in a shooting into an occupied vehicle and a larceny of a motor vehicle, I did it and am truly sorry for it, I have paid a hefty price as well but I did my time and paid my debt to society.

                  May the peace of God be with you.
                  Comment>

                  • #10
                    Originally posted by JSB View Post
                    Forgive me beforehand but this is my view on the matter, I believe that Christians can be the most unforgiving people on Earth, repentance is between the person and God and yes you look at peoples fruits but too many just outright condemn the person instead of giving them another chance.
                    Restoring an adulterous pastor isn't really about forgiving, IMO. It's about their credibility and the damage done to their ability to be effective moral leaders. Forgiving them means letting them back into the church and letting them serve in some way other than pastor. Restoring them to the office of pastor is not an act of forgiveness but is an act of incompetence on the part of church leaders. I can see making an exception shown themselves to be blameless for an extended time. Compare to Bob Harrington, mentioned earlier in this topic, who apparently spent his whole life as a lech and a hedonist.

                    I believe some Christians speak of forgiveness not because they are forgiving, but because they don't consider a sin to be a sin. Consider, Pastors Paul and Randy White, they were both divorced before they met each other. They were megachurch pastors while they were married to each other. They casually divorced each other. And, Paula white played around town, so to speak, and married again this past year. Anyone who speaks of "forgiving" them (e.g all of their followers) don't really consider adultery to be a sin in the first place because there's zero repentance from the Whites and they wouldn't hesitate to it again for their convenience, in spite of their position of being example to thousands of followers.

                    Christians have higher standards than those of the world. And, pastors should be held to the highest standards. They should be blameless (Titus 1:6). Blamelessness doesn't mean they repented and have been forgiven. It means having nothing to repent from and nothing to be forgiven for.



                    Comment>

                    • #11
                      This is certainly a tough issue to decide on. For me, there's no doubt that they should be forgiven. As what others have posted, if God can forgive, why can't we? It's easy to forgive, but it's hard to forget. Yes, there were times that people have done wrong to me and I have forgiven them. But even to this day, I can still remember their wrong doings and feel a bit of pain each time. Time does heal all wounds but not completely. At least for me, there's still this pain and hurt, even to this day. And even though I've forgiven these people, things would just never go back to the way they were.

                      And I think the same goes for adulterous pastors. We can forgive them... They're humans and they're bound to make mistakes. But we certainly won't be able to forget what they have committed. Not in one month, two months or a year... It's just hard to forget something so real like this. It certainly scars their reputation as a pastor or even as a priest. It also scars the name of the sector that they're in. And no matter what we do, that scar would last for a long, long time.

                      The only way to remedy this is to at least remove them from the sector as a leader. Maybe not forever, but certainly for some time. And if it's possible, maybe just put them in an office position where they won't be seen much as a role model. For the most part, pastors need to have a clean record especially during their time of office. After all, it's not only by being a pastor that we can serve the church anyway.
                      Comment>

                      • #12
                        Originally posted by Cornelius View Post
                        Bob Harrington, one of the most famous preachers in America? I haven't heard of him and he doesn't have a wikipedia entry.

                        He says he was converted at the age of 30? He was raised a Christian and by his own statement, "for 21 years I considered myself a Christian and was a "good church member."" Claiming to to have been converted at 30 is just a way some people dismiss their immorality before they were married. Becoming a preacher at the age of 30 was a career move. But, then he divorced his wife for a younger woman, and his ministry fell apart, after years of living a lavish lifestyle. He already pulled the "converted" card, and you can't play that card twice. So, he played the "repented and turned from his sin and went back to serving God..." but that was when he was too old to continue being immoral (nearly 70).

                        I'm not aware of any immorality in the lives of the the Apostles before they met Jesus. Matthew was accused of being a sinner, but the accusers were only judging him from their self-righteous standards. The Apostles never "converted" to the religion of which they were raised. The Apostles also never engaged in sexual immorality after they become followers of Jesus. Judas betrayed Jesus, but he's not counted among the Saints of God. Peter denied Christ on one occasion, but that wasn't premeditated or a lifestyle.

                        From what little I've gleaned about Bob Harrington, he never demonstrated the character of a man of God fit to be a Christian leader. An adulterous preacher has disqualified himself from ever being a Christian leader again. If an adulterous preacher has repented, he should serve a non-leadership role. It's not just because the preacher has revealed his true character, something that we can't know has changed even if he says he has repented, but because excusing immorality in high places, even among men who have truly repented, damages the whole church. Other men will see the excused affair and feel freer to have affairs themselves. And, the restored preacher himself is now compromised in his ability to uphold moral standards among his followers and peers.
                        I knew Bob quite well and there were more than a few times that he was a great help to me as I was growing up. I was on my own by the time I was 12 years old and lived just a block over from him on Bienville and Burgundy. (French Quarter) He lived on Boubon St. above the "House's House" Bar which burnt sometime around 1973 or 74. Uh, believe me, there was nothing "lavish" about his abode. It was a pretty cluttered mess of a basic one room, small bath and kitchenette studio but he seemed to know where everything was so go figure.

                        The biggest problem he had was that he lived way too close to the fire, so to speak. He would go into a bar, saloon, or strip joint and sit next to someone who might give an ear. The guys approach was absolutely hilarious because he would crack some clean one-liner jokes that kept just about everybody in stitches. Gradually, he would start talking about things like Jesus, Grace, and Salvation and believe it or not, many a hooker and druggie left the street life for something much better.

                        Like I wrote, he absolutely did live to close to the fire and got caught up in it and burned. Self inflicted, but burned nonetheless. Please do understand, the French Quarter is a very, very tight knit community whereby everyone knew everyone. The dear Chaplain was not one of us but became one of us. We all felt that He was "above" us and and we probably would have accepted his "failure" but when he fell from leadership to "street" he stayed that way, feeling that there was no real way to insure trust by his street type church.

                        Had Harrington been somewhat less well known, he might have been able to relocate and start anew. But, the question still remains, would that have been the right thing to do? For him it was NO. How can a pastor preach and teach against adultery and look people in the eye when he is an adulterer? Whether or not anyone else would accept it is an entirely different thing than whether the person falling from grace can forgive themselves.





                        Comment>

                        • #13
                          It's not for man to judge other men. All sin is the same before God. If you lie, you've broken the law. If you covet your neighbors property you aren't any worse than someone who kills another. You'll both die. Adulterous pastors though they aren't living the life Jesus wants them to can repent and be restored same way Manasseh was restored as King of Judah after he repented. Once you repent, your all your sins are forgiven and forgotten but it would be better to move elsewhere for the sake of your congregation if you were an adulterous pastor.
                          Comment>

                          • #14
                            Interesting write up. I am of the notion that an adulterous pastor can, with repentance, be restored to right fellowship within the body of believers. However, he cannot, ever, hold a leadership position again. Adultery is a willful, deliberate, violation of the covenant of marriage and the New Testament makes it clear that such a sin is grievous. And, from a practical standpoint, some individuals who have troubles related to sexual sin should not be in clergy for reasons that should be pretty obvious. As the article above says this isn't so much as a "punishment", but rather to protect the brother and the flock.
                            Comment>

                            • #15
                              As for restoring adulterous pastors back I wouldn't like to give a direct answer. First after genuine repentance on the part of the pastor I would suggest he be placed on a long time, say months or years, of observation by senior pastors or clergy. His characters and Christian life should be properly monitored and checked before any further assignment.
                              Comment>
                              Working...
                              X
                              Articles - News - SiteMap