Can a pastor who committed adultery and then repented resume his pastoral position?

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When a person sins in the church and truly repents, Christ offers him forgiveness (Galatians 6:1; 1 John 1:9). And the church must offer him forgiveness as well (2 Corinthians 2:5–11). And when a pastor commits adultery he also receives forgiveness from God and the church but he must go through the church discipline that is outlined in Scripture (Matthew 18:15–20).

However, the act of forgiveness does not routinely restore the repentant pastor to his former office. For example, a pedophile can be forgiven, but, by law, he will never be allowed to work with children again. So, Pastors involved in adultery can and should be restored to fellowship with God, with their families, and with fellow believers.

But restoration to the pastorate office is a  different situation because it is a “noble task” (1 Timothy 3:1). Pastors should have higher biblical standards than the people (James 3:1). In their lives should “not be even a hint of sexual immorality, or of any kind of impurity” (Ephesians 5:3). There should not be a sexual offense in their record that is condemned in the Scriptures (Proverbs 6:27–29; 1 Corinthians 6:18; Hebrews 13:4).

And the pastor that commits adultery has clearly violated the qualifications for his office that are listed in Titus 1:6–9 and 1 Timothy 3:2–7. The first pastoral qualification is that the overseer should be above reproach” and “blameless.” To that end, he must strive to keep himself pure always and above reproach. Christians should certainly extend grace to others. However, the church has a responsibility to govern itself and discipline the erring pastors (1 Corinthians 5:9–13).

Paul says, “I strike a blow to my body and make it my slave so that after I have preached to others, I myself will not be disqualified for the prize” (1 Corinthians 9:27). We know that Paul was not speaking of being “disqualified” for heaven, for nothing can separate us from God (Romans 8:39) but this “disqualification” is for clearly for preaching the gospel. Paul infers that, if he gave in to the immorality in any way, he would no longer be “qualified” for ministry. For this reason, Paul subdued his body so that he could continue ministering to others.

In His service,
BibleAsk Team

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