The Words of Jesus #25

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This entry is part 25 of 47 in the series The Words of Jesus

It is becoming increasingly common these days for a minister, a pastor of a church, to be caught in some kind of sexual sin. I recently read that upwards of 30% of church pastors have committed adultery or some cognate sin at some time in their pastorate. I don’t know why I should have been surprised at that. Our society is so sexually overcharged, and a minister is at once in a vulnerable and powerful position to either be taken advantage of or to take advantage. What is a little surprising is that increasing numbers of these men are being retained in their positions even after the discovery of a sexual dalliance.

When this happens, there is usually confession and forgiveness by the whole church. I presume the fact that a man has fallen off the fidelity wagon once need not destroy a lifetime career of an otherwise effective pastor and preacher. I am not so sure what churches do the second time he falls off the wagon. Or the third. How many times can a church forgive a wayward pastor and have the forgiveness mean anything?

There was a day when Peter came to Jesus and asked the question: Lord, how oft shall my brother sin against me, and I forgive him? till seven times? Jesus’ answer places a pretty big burden on us all: Oh no, Peter, I wouldn’t say seven times: but, Until seventy times seven (Matthew 18:22). But I can’t see a church retaining a pastor who keeps repeating his sins. Sooner or later, he will fired. Probably sooner—especially in this day of the instant lawsuit. Is a church that fires its minister being unforgiving? The problem with forgiveness is that the word has a rather broad range of meanings. Let’s examine some of them.

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Ronald L. Dart

Ronald L. Dart (1934–2016) — People around the world have come to appreciate his easy style, non-combative approach to explaining the Bible, and the personal, almost one-on-one method of explaining what’s going on in the world in the light of the Bible. After retiring from teaching and church administration in 1995 he started Christian Educational Ministries and the Born to Win radio program.

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