A variety of denominational and non-denominational churches have seen its religious leaders, whether they be entitled pastors, priests, ministers or preachers become involved in extramarital sexual affairs, sexual misconduct or abuse.
A major question becomes: Should these leaders be allowed to return to authoritative roles within the church?
Forgiveness… But with limits?
The act of forgiveness is a tenant of Christianity. Indeed, in the Bible, and in life, Christians are a group of people who have been redeemed through Christ and “in whom we have redemption, the forgiveness of sins.” (Colossians 1:14). Christians are sinners who have put off their former ways.
As the Apostle Paul wrote: “For all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God,” (Romans 3:23)
Rehabilitate, but away from the pulpit
“Create in me a clean heart, O God, and renew a right spirit within me.”
– Psalm 51:10
Many church leaders say that their brethren in leadership should be forgiven and guided in rehabilitation and recovery from their infidelity and affairs.
However, at the same time, they believe this healing should occur away from the pulpit. In addition, others believe that after one has rehabilitated from such wrongdoing, they should never be allowed to return to the pulpit. In other words, such individuals should be held to higher standards because of their authority and should never be given a second chance to hold a leadership role.
They believe that allowing someone who has engaged in inappropriate sexual behavior puts the rest of the congregation at risk.
Protecting the congregation against the abuse of authority
“Pay careful attention to yourselves and to all the flock, in which the Holy Spirit has made you overseers, to care for the church of God, which he obtained with his own blood.”
– Acts 20:28
Those who oppose allowing those individuals involved in sexual misconduct to return to the pulpit is akin to the same rules that other trades.
For example, there are prohibitions against doctors, therapists or lawyers from returning to their practice after they’ve had an inappropriate relationship with a patient or client.
Such rules in various professions prevent practitioners from taking advantage of their role in relation to the people they serve. Many feel such authoritative roles within the church should be subject to these same types of prohibitions.