Questions and Replies

One of the most popular posts in this blog has been “Should Fallen Pastors Be Restored To Leadership?” Almost everyday that particular post receives a high attention from visitors. I’m not sure whether this is due to increasing number of pastors are disqualifying themselves so that both pastors and parishioners are searching for some answers or what.

Recently, I received a comment/questions by someone named “Am” and then I asked Pastor Phil to respond. I’m posting here both comments/questions and Pastor Phil’s response because I think this will benefit many people. Comments and questions raised are very legitimate, and Pastor Phil’s response is very good with fine biblical points with much pastoral flavor. The questions/comments by “Am” are in blue; mine in green; and Pastor Phil’s response in red.

I‘ve just run across this commentary and appreciate the posting of it. Upon reading it, I do however, have a question/comment regarding “above reproach”. Do you feel that this is applied in all aspects of a pastor’s life or is it merely applied in the sexual aspect?

First of all, thank you for the comments/questions.

It appears that “above reproach” covers every qualification listed in 3:1-7, not just sexual sins. Shepherds are to set an example for the flock to carefully observe and follow. This doesn’t mean that shepherds must be perfect, for only one Shepherd was and will be perfect. But we are to be consistent in our Christian walk, worthy of imitation in all areas of life.

I ask because it has come to my attention that gluttony is rarely addressed in the church and there are many pastors who are very overweight and not b/c they have medical conditions, but b/c they overindulge (I myself am overweight, so this is not a cut on overweight people). Herein lies my question – If they do not lose weight, should they be removed from the pulpit as well, as they are living in a state of sin versus an act of sin? They are not above reproach as no glutton will enter the kindgom of God. It’s a poor example. And if they did lose weight, are they now above reproach even though everyone knew they were once gluttons?

I would agree with here, but gluttony indicates a lack of self-control in the area of one’s appetites, which would include the alcohol issue in the qualifications. The same would apply to TV-viewing and internet use. They all address the self-control issue.

Exegetically, 1 Timothy 3:1 “An overseer, then, must be (or dei in Greek is in present active indicative)” implies that the character of an elder must be habitual and consistent.

I also have been thinking of the pastors who’s household are not ruled well…They are men of God, but struggle to rule their household, yelling at their children, fighting with their wive, provoking their children unto wrath, etc. Even if they repent, are they now not above reproach? Is there restoration to their ministry?

Ruling one’s house (and wife) is already addressed in the qualifications. It’s a “no brainer,” as far as I’m concerned. God clearly states if your family is not in order, get out of the ministry! This doesn’t mean that pastor’s children are perfect, but it is the video (not the snapshot) of their lives that is the issue. What are they known for? What is their reputation?

Or do we put adultery and sexual sins about the other qualifications in the verse?

They are among the more obvious sins, plus they violate the “one-woman-man” qualification.

I’m trying to be fair and not just pick up the sins that seem worse, but truly examine what makes a man above reproach. What of the pastor who lied in a moment of weakness, repented and turned away from his lie? Is he now not above reproach? Can he keep preaching or does he need to step down? Where is the line? And what of the pastor who was saved, fell into sin before he was a pastor (although he’d felt a call) and had pre-marital sex? Is he disqualified b/c he had sex before marriage and there are those who know, so they could say he is not above reproach?

Habitual lying indicates a lack of sober-mindedness in one’s thoughts and speech, thus disqualifying the man. Pre-marital, pre-pastoral sex does not disqualify if it has been repented of and people can testify to the change. What is he known for? Being faithful or being flirtatious?

Growing up, it always seemed that sexual sins were always at the forefront, while the others were not. This is an issue I have given serious consideration and am in no way trying to be argumentative, but am very troubled that we don’t apply the same thing in every area. If one is true, than all areas must be true, regarding reproach. Thanks in advance for your response.

I would agree that we have too often elevated one type of sin over the others. This is one of the frustrations as I have talked with churches or pastors. Why do we tolerate certain sins but not others? Why don’t we address sin consistently and graciously?

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