Question:

I know of a preacher in a Church of Christ, whose son is living a homosexual lifestyle. No one in the church knows this. (By the way, I do not belong to this church, I live in a different state.) I am aware that the preacher and his family want to continue keeping thisa secret from the church members because he is afraid he'll lose his job. Is thisa situation where it would be best (in the interest of the members) for me to 'speak up' or would you consider it 'tattle-telling'? Should I leave things to come out on their own? The son has been 'out of the closet' for quite a few years now.

Answer:

Let's take things a piece at a time. First, a preacher is to be faithful. "Let no one despise your youth, but be an example to the believers in word, in conduct, in love, in spirit, in faith, in purity" (I Timothy 4:12). But there is no qualifications for the preacher that the rest of his family must be faithful. We generally prefer men who preach to have family who also live a proper Christian life because they help the preacher in setting the proper example. However, God did not make it a requirement. Using the prophets of old as examples, we see that some had miserable home lives, and yet God used them to further His cause.

Second, since his son is openly homosexual and the members of the congregation don't know it, then I must conclude that the son is not a member of the congregation, either by not being a Christian or by living elsewhere or both. Thus the son isn't under the congregation's jurisdiction where they could do something to help this lost man.

Now then the question is why do you want to tell third parties about a man's sins? The one in trouble is the man living as a homosexual. He is the one who needs Christ. If there was someone at the congregation whom you thought could reach this man, then I would say, what are you waiting for. But the only thing thing you seem to think will happen is a sowing of discord in a congregation. Among those whom the Lord despises is "one who sows discord among brethren" (Proverbs 6:19).

Focus on the true issue, rescuing a lost soul.

I appreciate you answering so quickly. The answer you gave me is the same as my personal opinion. However, when I read "Does an elder need to step down if one of his children falls away?" on your site, I became conflicted. Maybe I was wrong by calling the man a preacher. I don't know him personally, my husband does. Is there a difference between preachers and elders in the Church of Christ? My husband says he is an elder but has also referred to him as the preacher of their church. As a child, I grew up a Jehovah's Witness and the main guys that stood in front of the congregation were called elders. That's all I've ever known them to be called, but I thought that they could also be called the preacher of the church. So when I said that the man was afraid to 'lose his 'job'', I meant that he was afraid that the congregation would ask him to step down as their elder. Wouldn't Titus 1:5-6 apply to the man?

I completely agree that the bigger issue would be rescuing the lost soul (the homosexual son) but I do not know him personally (again, my husband does, though).

My concern for the congregation, was that they have a preacher or elder teaching them who is more concerned with losing his job -- or 'career', as he put it, as an elder -- because he has an unfaithful son, than he is with trying to help his son.

My 'speaking up' would not consist of metelling a bunch of people in the church. I would let my husband's father know since he is really good friends with this man, but does not know this secret. He has contact with him and would be more than willing to try to help the son as well. But in telling him this news, he would also feel that the man should step down from his position. I don't know where everything would go from there. Whether or not he himself would go tothe other elders of the church and let them know. I really don't know how all that 'policy' stuff works with their church.

So, with him being an elder, is your answer still the same? Sorry if I used the wrong term in the first question. I didn't realize they may be different. Ifyour answeris the same, like I said before, it is how I originally felt.

I have no way to personally reach the son to help him. Any and all help would have to start with me telling my father-in-law.

There is a difference between preachers and elders. Some of their duties overlap but serve very different roles in a congregation. It is sad that so many denominations have confused the terms used by God in Bible. The article "Pastors and Preachers" does a good job of explain the differences. It is possible for a preacher to also serve as one of the elders later in his life if he has demonstrated the qualifications set out in I Timothy 3 and Titus 1. But all preachers are not elders and all elders are not preachers.

One of the primary duties of an elder is to work with members of the church to keep them faithful to God. He does this both with his personal example and the teaching that he gives. The ability to keep Christians on the straight and narrow path is demonstrated in how he is able to deal with members of his own family, "for if a man does not know how to rule his own house, how will he take care of the church of God?" (I Timothy 3:5).

There has been a long debate in the church regarding how long an elder should be seen as responsible for the behavior of his children. After all, each individual is responsible for his own decisions and once a child leaves home he isn't under the authority of his father -- at least not in the same way. The article you referenced addresses this issue.

Since you are confused, I suspect the man is someone who is serving both as a preacher and as an elder. If there was someone else serving as a preacher, I would recommend talking to him since one of the duties of a preacher is to remind elders of their duties. "Do not receive an accusation against an elder except from two or three witnesses. Those who are sinning rebuke in the presence of all, that the rest also may fear" (I Timothy 5:19-20).

If you have no other contact with the congregation, then it would be appropriate to let your father-in-law know that the problem exists. In the case of an elder, he became unqualified for his position when his son left the church and began living as a homosexual. That he is trying to cover it up, knowing the situation makes him unqualified, also shows that he puts personal pride over following God. It is a serious charge.

What your father-in-law needs is not a rumor. Give him as much factual information as you possess. He needs to know how you found out so that he can talk to the sources directly. In this case it isn't gossip because there is a wrong that needs to be addressed and you are taking the problem to someone who can address the problem.

Thank you! I in no way wanted to be a gossiper. Just needed some instruction on whether it was my place to say something or keep quiet.