Question:

What should happen to a minister who has committed adultery for almost a decade with a woman of another congregation who has made their relationship known to the leadership and other members. Hence, the minister has confessed before the congregation that he has sinned and that he repented of his sins and that his wife and family forgave him and he hopes that the congregation forgives him also.

Should this person step down as the minister or should he continue as the minister?

I truly don't understand how he could continue his ministerial duties. I think he needs to work on healing himself and his family.

Please tell me what the Bible says he should do.


Answer:

This wouldn't be a difficult question if the man just stayed in his sin. You would know exactly what to do. It is because he left his sins that you are left questioning what should be done.

I wonder what forgiveness means to you. If you did someone wrong and they told you they forgave you, what would you expect your relationship to be like thereafter? It is an important question because Jesus told us, "For if you forgive men their trespasses, your heavenly Father will also forgive you. But if you do not forgive men their trespasses, neither will your Father forgive your trespasses" (Matthew 6:14-15).

Forgiveness literally means to release a debt. If a bank forgives a loan, it means you no longer owe them money and they no longer are expecting payment. Sins create a debt between the sinner and God, and between the sinner and those harmed by his sins. I've noticed a strong tendency these days for people to be quick to say "I forgive" but there is nothing behind their words. They continue to hold the "forgiven" person in debt to their sins. "My little children, let us not love in word or in tongue, but in deed and in truth" (I John 3:18).

This man damaged his relationship with God, his wife, and his family. He muddied the reputation of the church. He's repented of his sins; at least he says so and you don't mention any doubt about his sincerity. "Take heed to yourselves. If your brother sins against you, rebuke him; and if he repents, forgive him. And if he sins against you seven times in a day, and seven times in a day returns to you, saying, 'I repent,' you shall forgive him" (Luke 17:3-4). His wife and family forgave him, but it doesn't seem that you have yet, even though you were only indirectly impacted by his sins. I wonder why his wife was able to forgive and you aren't.

It would be proper for his wife and the congregation to ask him to take extra cautionary measures so that he isn't pulled by temptation back into sin. Clearly he needs to have no more contact with this other woman. He ought to impose rules on himself not to met with women by himself. He needs to take extra measures that no doubt is left that he is living righteously. It is the same type of precaution Paul made when money was sent to Jerusalem. He insisted that the congregations pick trustworthy men to carry it and travel with him. Why? To avoid any claims of wrong doing. "Avoiding this: that anyone should blame us in this lavish gift which is administered by us -- providing honorable things, not only in the sight of the Lord, but also in the sight of men" (II Corinthians 8:20-21).

The question you have to wrestle with is: now that he has repented and asked for forgiveness, can you forgive? It appears he has done the right thing. How about you?

"This punishment which was inflicted by the majority is sufficient for such a man, so that, on the contrary, you ought rather to forgive and comfort him, lest perhaps such a one be swallowed up with too much sorrow. Therefore I urge you to reaffirm your love to him" (II Corinthians 2:6-8).