04 December 2006

More Lutheran Ethics Discussions

This one was definitely not as painful as the last one - it was good. We talked about what a youth minister should do if he caught Harold (senior pastor) with a woman in the church library who was not his wife. The exact phrasing was: "locked in a clearly sexual embrace with a divorced and unmarried parishioner" I struggled a lot with what restoration could/should look like for a church leader who screws up like this...

I was writing my final thoughts and thought they sounded pretty darn good - so I should show them off publicly.

[Classmate], you say something interesting: "Are people turning away from Christianity because they see blatant hypocrisy in their ministers? If we got rid of the immoral ministers and kept the upright (although still sinners) who walked their talk, would our churches grow and would faith deepen?"
I believe strongly that a church having convictions and holding to them - popular or not - shows an integrity that is attractive. I am not sure how I feel about celibate clergy, but the Roman Catholic unapologetic stance on what they feel is a matter of faith/obedience is inspiring. But what I see as a problem is the conflict in your statement - "upright (although still sinners)" is that all will fall short to varying degrees. Now we have to create a scale: so if we find out the pastor lusted after the cute girl in the third row during his sermon - should we relieve him of his position because Jesus said that looking/thinking is as bad as doing. It is a slippery slope for sure. Where does a sin require a public confession and public restoration/penance? Where is a sin something we only need to confess to our brother and move on? Where does pornography fit in on this scale of sexual sin?

I would say that the hypocrisy that people see in Christian ministry comes more from a Christian's inability to admit and address their own sins and failings than from the fact that they have them. Ted Haggard preaching against homosexuality is disgusting in light of the truth - Ted Haggard sharing his struggle with lust for sex outside of marriage is a testament to boasting about weakness and allowing God to work through our struggles and sufferings. In Christ all things are possible, if we only worry about our public face and our higher moral ground, then we will be put low over and over again.


Drive-Thru Society said...

I have a question for you before I give my thoughts: was he doing anything sexual with this women or was he just in the libary with her? I need some clarification. Thanks

bobbydale said...

I updated the post with the exact phrasing of the case study: "locked in a clearly sexual embrace with a divorced and unmarried parishioner "

Drive-Thru Society said...

Thanks for the clarification. I probably would have broken up the act by saying, “what the hell is going on here?” I am a big fan of grace and restoration, so it is hard to say what my next conversation would have been with them. I am also a situational guy so it partly depend if they took responsibility for their actions or not. There has to be some sort action for what they have done, but I don’t know if kicking them out of the community is the answer. My fairy tail hopes would play out like this, the pastor would take a paid leave of absence (at least six months) and make things right with his family, get counseling for his sex problem, write a letter to the community to address what happened with out any names, and create a re-entry into the community with better accountability for himself.

I would like to see the women to find healing within the community with out ever leaving. She should not be shamed anymore than she already has been. I feel that it would be appropriate for the church to pay for her consoling because it is a pretty traumatic thing to be caught having relations with the pastor. I would also try to create a discrete support group of three to four people to walk in this journey with her. We would also have to create some sort of boundary for her not to be alone with pastor anymore.

I know things don’t work this way in a church, but in my fairy tail world they would. The pastor and his family are restored, the woman is restored, and the church community is restored.

Thanks for sharing this one. It really makes you think what would you do.