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Friday, April 07, 2006                                                                                       View Comments

Before the Next Sex Scandal

The following is an excerpt of a recent Christianity Today editorial
Lonnie Latham, a member of the Southern Baptist Convention executive committee and pastor of a large Tulsa, Oklahoma, church, resigned from both positions in January after police arrested him for allegedly attempting to solicit a male undercover officer for oral sex. Earl Paulk, pastor of an Atlanta-area mega-church, has dodged allegations of sexual impropriety for years. But in August 2005, a female employee sued him, alleging he arranged for his brother and visiting pastors to have sex with her. The International Communion of Charismatic Churches (ICCC)—an association Paulk developed—forced him to resign as archbishop in October.

...stories abound of pastors snared by sexual transgression. The problems transcend theology and ecclesiology. A pervasive culture of sensuality and disregard for communal accountability guarantees that some pastors will struggle with all sorts of sexual temptation. Toss into this mix the Internet's availability and anonymity, which have spread the reach of pornography and clandestine sexual encounters. The challenge to help our pastors resist temptation demands a wise church response. First, we must enact clear and enforceable standards that will guard against temptation. Then, our churches must implement plans for discipline and restoration when possible.

Leadership reports that up to 12 percent of pastors have admitted to "inappropriate physical involvement outside marriage." And 38 percent of pastors said Internet pornography tempts them.

"Even with extensive coverage of clergy misconduct over the past decade, congregations still make no plans for handling moral failure until it happens. Then it's too late," Leadership managing editor Eric Reed writes.

Whether and when the pastor returns to ministry needs to be handled with care and on an individual basis. But given the nature of sexual sin, pastors who return to public ministry should probably be the exception. In most instances, the transgression undermines the trust necessary to minister. Charles Spurgeon offered one criterion when he quoted pastor John Angell James in his lectures to students: "When a preacher of righteousness has stood in the way of sinners, he should never again open his lips in the great congregation until his repentance is as notorious as his sin."

For the entire article, click here.

What I find interesting about this article is that while it honestly admits to significant moral failure in Christian leadership, the tone is nearly one of inevitability, as in "you know it's going to happen," not to mention the excuse: "A pervasive culture of sensuality and disregard for communal accountability."

I wonder what ever happened to promise of a magical holy sprite of Gawd? I guess hormones are way more powerful than any old infilling of the holy spirte. Now it takes accountability partners, or something, to keep men of Gawd from slipping into bed with congregants, or whomever. I wonder how any of those early holy men of Gawd ever survived in old Pagan Rome, with all those temple prostitutes batting their eyelashes?

This is almost a blatant admission by Christianity Today that there is nothing supernatural about Christianity.

I guess I'd agree.