For the Pastor Knee-Deep in Immorality

A couple of weeks ago we received the news that another—yet another—well-known and highly-admired pastor had been removed from ministry after his elders learned he was involved in an extra-marital affair. Such incidents are all too common, though I suspect the frequency is related as much to the shrinking of the world as any great explosion of immorality. The internet allows us to find affinity with a greater number of people and, in the same way, allows us knowledge of a greater number of sinners, hypocrites, and imposters.

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The fall of another pastor means the agony of another church, as yet another community of Christians grapples with the fallout of their pastor’s great sin. The fall of another husband means the agony of another wife, as she bears the weight of her husband’s immorality. The fall of another leader means the disquiet of another group of admirers, as they deal with the fall of a man they looked up to. If he was involved in such immorality, what did all his preaching really mean? If he was committing such sin, how much did his love really mean? If he was hiding such hypocrisy, what did his leadership really mean? The collapse of a minister and his ministry creates a great shockwave of destruction.

There’s a harsh reality behind the regular collapse of so many ministers: though many have been found out and caught in their sin, we know there are many more who have not yet been. There are many who are knee-deep in disqualifying transgressions, but their day of reckoning has not yet come. Not quite. But perhaps they would do well to reflect on the words of Moses in Numbers 32: “Be sure your sin will find you out.” Sin has a way of being found out. We can hide it for a while, but eventually, inevitably, it is made public. Really, sin wants to be found out because sin wants to have the last laugh! Sin is content to dwell in the darkness for a while, but its end goal is to be known so it can bring reproach upon the gospel.

I want to say a word to those pastors who are hiding serious sin—especially this kind of disqualifying sexual sin. I want to plead with you: Please confess and please resign. The best thing you can do for yourself, for those you love, and for those you serve, is to confess the sin and resign from ministry. Immediately. As in right now. If you love your family, if you love your church, if you love Christ’s church, if you love the gospel, if you love Christ, you’ll confess and resign. To remain in ministry having committed that sin is the very height of hypocrisy.

I understand how difficult that is. I understand you may not have any other skill, any other job you can imagine doing. I understand you’ve put all your eggs in this basket of ministry. But through no fault of anyone but yourself you have become disqualified. You chose to become involved in the world’s one vocation where skill is far less important than character. You chose to become involved in a vocation where one serious transgression marks the end of your career. You are no longer qualified to this position and must resign.

Call your elders together, confess every detail of your sin, and present them with your immediate resignation. Then quietly remove yourself from any kind of ministry. Yes, the consequences may be severe and the fallout may be grave, but there is no better way to show your repentance and no better way to protect those you love than this. For the sake of your church, for the sake of your family, for the sake of those who look up to you, and for the sake of your own soul, confess that sin and resign that ministry.