Should a pastor step down from church office if he committed sexual immorality?

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The bishop/elder/pastor should have moral standards in agreement with the teachings of the Bible. To commit sexual immorality is against God’s will. The Scriptures teach that sex outside marriage is a sin (Acts 15:20; 1 Corinthians 5:1; 6:13, 18; 10:8; 2 Corinthians 12:21; Galatians 5:19; Ephesians 5:3; Colossians 3:5; 1 Thessalonians 4:3; Jude 7).

The qualifications of the bishop/elder/pastor are recorded in 1 Timothy 3:1–7: “the overseer is to be above reproach, faithful to his wife… He must also have a good reputation with outsiders, so that he will not fall into disgrace and into the devil’s trap.” And also in Titus it teaches that the overseer should, “be blameless, faithful to his wife… He must hold firmly to the trustworthy message as it has been taught” (Titus 1:6–9).

The seventh commandment clearly states, “You shall not commit adultery” (Exodus 20:14). This prohibition covers adultery, fornication, and any impurity in act, word, and thought. Jesus said,  “You have heard that it was said to those of old, ‘You shall not commit adultery.  But I say to you that whoever looks at a woman to lust for her has already committed adultery with her in his heart” (Matt. 5:27, 28).

Sex between a husband and his wife is the only form of sexual relation that God approves of (Hebrews 13:4). And because sex outside marriage is a sin, each man should have his own wife and each woman her own husband to avoid falling into sexual immorality (1 Corinthians 7:2).

Thus, a biblically un-qualified individual should not occupy leadership office in the church according to the teachings of the Bible. But rather he may seek renewing of his heart and mind through the changing grace of God (Romans 12:2). This renewing change starts when a believer is first converted and continues progressively (2 Cor. 4:16)  as the believer grows “in knowledge” of God (Col. 3:10). And as the inner heart gets transformed by the power of the Holy Spirit, the outward actions reveal this change.

Check out our Bible Answers page for more information on a variety of topics.

In His service,
BibleAsk Team

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