Should a repeated adulterer be dismissed from the ministry?




I would like to know what God's view is on this matter. A pastor in our town who is over a church is committing adultery over and over again. The church keeps taking him from the pulpit but after awhile lets him come back to the pulpit. My opinion this is the blind leading the blind and God greatly disapproves this pastor is leading these people astray. Let me hear from you please.

I don't know if you are using the word "pastor" in the biblical sense -- that is, referring to an elder or overseer in the church -- or in the denominational sense of a preacher, minister, or evangelist. In this case, it makes a small difference in the answer.

I suspect that what has happened is the church is attempting to fulfill Christ's law regarding forgiveness. "Then Peter came to Him and said, "Lord, how often shall my brother sin against me, and I forgive him? Up to seven times?" Jesus said to him, "I do not say to you, up to seven times, but up to seventy times seven" (Matthew 18:21-22). We should be able to forgive a brother of a sin as often as he requests forgiveness. We don't want limits placed on us by God as to how often we are forgiven and neither should we place limits on our brethren.

However, certain positions in the church carry the reputation of the church with the duty. In the qualifications for elders, we find, "A bishop then must be blameless, the husband of one wife, ... of good behavior" (I Timothy 3:2). "Holy, self-controlled" (Titus 1:8). "Moreover he must have a good testimony among those who are outside, lest he fall into reproach and the snare of the devil" (I Timothy 3:7). While the man may be forgiven by his brethren for his repeated sins, the fact remains that the nature of his sins has impacted his ability to serve as an elder for the congregation. He no longer has a good reputation among the people in the community. At a minimum, he would need to be out of office for a while (several years) to restore his personal reputation that he ruined. He has to prove that he has gained self-control and can live a holy life.

The qualifications for a preacher are not nearly as strict as those for an elder, but it does remain that a preacher is seen as representing the congregation in the community. The preacher Titus was told, "in all things showing yourself to be a pattern of good works; in doctrine showing integrity, reverence, incorruptibility, sound speech that cannot be condemned, that one who is an opponent may be ashamed, having nothing evil to say of you" (Titus 2:7-8). This is no longer true of a man who has repeatedly committed adultery. His brethren may forgive him, but as a consequence of his action, he has given outsiders reasons degrade the church. Again, such a person needs to leave the job until he can demonstrate that he can be a proper example. It will probably be years before he is able to repair the damage that he has caused.

An example would be the apostle Paul. Before his conversion he spent his time attacking the church. After his conversion he worked with the church in Antioch, but when he went to Jerusalem, "he tried to join the disciples; but they were all afraid of him, and did not believe that he was a disciple" (Acts 9:26). Not until Barnabas came and testified that he had truly changed was he allowed to join the church in Jerusalem. But even in this case, Paul's sins were against the church. They weren't truly of the nature that degraded the reputation of the church.

See also:

Questions and Answers regarding the Church
Questions and Answers regarding Preachers
Questions and Answers regarding Elders