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  • Writer's pictureTyrel Denver

Are Our Standards for Sexual Purity Too High for Pastors? - Ask Pastor John

Is faultless chastity an appropriate standard for pastors, or are our expectations simply too high? Is faultless chastity too high a standard for pastors? That’s today’s question. And it’s a question that reminds me of a personal experience a few years ago. My family and I slipped into the back of a church to see a preacher I liked. The church was packed out. The elders were on the platform. Tissues were being passed. The preacher was not there. Moments after arriving, it was announced he had been booted from his pastoral role the night before, after the discovery of his romantic attachment to a woman that was not his wife. And when this punishment was formally announced to the church, the man directly in front of me, whom I had never seen before — I didn’t know him at all — turned straight around, looked me in the eye, and said in a loud voice, “That’s over the top, don’t you think?!” I was startled; I’ll never forget it. Moments like these, and any formal church discipline, are startling; you don’t forget them. And they land on some with a shocking strictness. This is the experience leading to today’s question from a female listener in Houston. “Pastor John, one of the pastors at my church was recently dismissed from his position after confessing to have had sex with the lady he was dating. On the one hand, I was so humbled by the high view of God’s standard taken by the church leadership. But on the other hand, I wonder if this is too harsh. It takes a very special grace to withstand sexual temptation, especially in a man or woman of a certain age and experience. And many pastors struggle with hidden sins such as pornography. Is faultless chastity too high a standard for pastors?”

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