Pastors are sinners in need of redemption, like everyone else. A pastor must forgive and be forgiven, and this is something that the flock must be taught and must embrace, or subtle Donatism will creep in with the latest gossip.
Nonetheless, beginning with the Pastoral Epistles of Saint Paul, Christians have also been taught that, for the pastor, a higher standard applies. In each Christian tradition, there are penalties for certain clerical sins—sins that diminish the teaching authority of the office. Do this, and you may no longer wear that frock.
Which seems to modern ears a bit unfair. Here in the Age of Yes, it sounds a little . . . unforgiving. Is there any sin that God cannot forgive? And if we refuse to forgive a pastor who has fallen, then don’t we prove the old saying, “Christians are the only soldiers who shoot their own wounded”?
By his own account, fallen evangelical megachurch pastor Ted Haggard has had his brains blown out by the Church. “I thought we were a family,” he glumly told ABC News’s Dan Harris.
Near the end of 2006, a muscle-bound, drug-dealing, call-boy masseur, Mike Jones, accused the now-former president of the National Association of Evangelicals of having lots of sex with him and buying dope. Haggard denied it, then admitted to one dilly-dally, then took four polygraph tests to prove his semi-innocence. ...