Christians: if your pastor was involved in an extramarital affair, would you want him/her to resign?

I’m not sure we have enough Christians here to have a viable discussion. But I’m also not sure of the contrary, so I’ll just swee what happens.

In answering the question, please note that I’m talking about immoral but not illegal behavior. Pastors who’ve committed rape or child molestation are a whole 'nother breed from those who have committed or abetted adultery.

Anyway: suppose you discovered that the pastor of whatever church you attend (or at least one of your denomination) was either cheating on or her spouse, or, if single, was having an affair with a married person. After your discovery, the pastor ends the dailliance. Would you say that pastor owes it to his or her congregation to confess the indiscretion? Offer a resignation, and allow the congregation to decide whether to accept it? Quit outright? If the pastor didn’t confess, would you out him or her?

Poll in a moment.

Considering I’m (well, lapsed, no longer practicing, take your pick) Catholic, then it would probably be a good idea.

I believe that in such an instance, the Bible wants you to forgive, as that is a central tenet to Christianity/The Bible… I don’t think that sort of thing would compromise his ability to preach (at least in and of itself), and I am pretty sure that the Bible says the only human who is one hundred percent perfect is Jesus. I am pretty sure that the Bible wants you to admit your faults to one another, whether or not that requires you to admit them to the whole congregation however I am not so sure of.

As to whether or not it would actually go down like that in real life, I don’t know, but I am pretty sure that that is how it is meant to be handled in Christianity.

The problem is that news like this is going to rip a congregation apart (frankly, I’ve seen congregations ripped apart for a lot less), not to mention there areseveral denominations who insist that their clergy’s sex life be restricted to “life long monagamous relatiosnhips.”

If it’s a call position (one where the congregation officially hires the minister, not where the minister is assigned) I think the minister has an obligation to tell the board and offer to resign.

Do you think it’s unreasonable for Christians to expect that of their clergy?

To avoid the congregation being torn apart, the pastor could simply resign without putting it to the board or congregation. Is that not the best option in your view?

But how would you know they really did?

I’m Christian, and while I have never personally observed this kind of thing at any church I’ve attended, I did attend one where a pastor was caught embezzling; the amount was in the medium five figures, and he resigned and a further condition was that the charges would be dropped if he paid the money back within a certain period of time. It was a very sad and shocking thing for us. I moved away shortly afterwards, so IDK what happened in the years to come.

If my current pastor cheated on his wife, we’d probably find out about it because she would kill him. Literally.

Pastor needs to resign, does not need to publicly confess, I’m not outing anyone over anything … am in need of ice cream. Lord, help us with all the choices here.

I don’t expect priests and/or pastors to be morally perfect (I really don’t expect that of anyone). Sins of the flesh are the least grave, adultery is not crime that harm/victimizes others, etc. If they repented and stopped the affair, I don’t see any reason for them to resign or even to necessarily confess it to the congregation. In my experience most clergy are pretty mediocre (at least in my church) and we really need the good ones to stay.

Ask Athena, not me. :wink:

I suppose the pastor and his/her partner in infidelity could tell you (though I’m sure that some will say that a person who has committed or abetted adultery is ipso facto dishonest and thus his or her word is not to be trusted).

As my great-grandmother said right before they electrocucted her, “Bullshit.” Adultery is incredibly harmful and victimizing to the cheated-on spouse–and I write that as someone who, during a misspent youth, both cheated (on girlfriends, not a wife) and abetted cheating.

I’m not saying that the pastor needs to confess publicly, but saying that adultery has no victims is silly.

Not over ANYTHING? Not over embezzlement? Child molestation? Domestic violence?

You’re not thinking clearly. Probably need more ice cream. I’ve directed the Canteen to deliver to you 144 pints of different flavors, along with assorted toppings.

Thanks for the ice cream supply. “Anything” was not a good choice of words. Okay, more choices. Would I out someone over embezzlement? It’s unlikely that I would be privy to church finances. Yes, you’re correct, I’d out the pastor over child molestation and domestic violence. Would I out the pastor over his/her affair? Most likely not, as how could I be certain of what their relationship is?

There’s like, way too many questions up in that poll, so I will just answer here.

I would like my pastor to resign if he/she was found to be cheating on his wife. I can forgive him - although he needs no forgiveness from me - but I don’t want him to be the one to lead my particular flock.

I am not currently a part of a church, largely because of issues like this, that a lot of what goes on feels hypocritical to me. As I see it, we all sin, we’re not perfect, and expecting perfection is unreasonable. However, we should be holding our leaders to a higher standard, particularly as setting an example and practicing what they preach. The big point here is the difference between making a mistake and choosing to do something that one professes to believe is wrong. Having an extramarital affair takes a series of bad choices, from putting oneself into even being in the position to have one, to choosing to push it farther and continue it.

So, sure, I don’t expect that a priest remain celebate or even that he can’t get divorced, but I think it’s reasonably that I should expect that he wouldn’t be make conscious choices that lead to him engaging in behavior that I believe to be morally wrong. For someone who should be a spiritual and moral leader and example for me, how can I have him guiding me? If it took being discovered to get him to come forth, it shows me to a lack of moral awareness.

Now, as for how I might handle it, I’d probably handle it much like I have in the past. I’d either move on, or I might tell him how I felt and then move on. I might consider staying if he resigned, but at the same time, if he’s been a poor spiritual leader, I’m probably better off finding someone else anyway. Though for different reasons, it is because of poor leadership that I left the last church I was a member of many years ago.

I am an atheist Unitarian with some vague Buddhist leanings, but there are some Christians in my congregation, so I think I qualify for these purposes.

I checked the first option. However, if the pastor and their spouse have an open arrangement that allows for polyamory, I’d be fine with keeping him as my minister.

As it sits, both my paster and his wife are out bisexuals, and I wouldn’t hold it against either of them if, with spousal permission, they were involved in safe, sane, consentual couplings outside their marriage. (I know polyamory is not part and parcel of bisexuality; just saying.)

It would depend on the denomination. A Catholic priest having an affair with a married woman or man is clearly a hypocrite in at least one way. A Pentecostal pastor probably is as well; likewise an Episcopalian or Methodist or Baptist. Someone from, say, the United Churches of Christ MIGHT be polyamorous, I guess, though it seems unlikely. Conceivable with Unitarians, I suppose.

You’re still not thinking at your best. Do you need me to prescribe some sort of chocolate-based pastry?

FWIW above, I do know how to spell “pastor.” Oy, vey.

Prescribe Sweetapolita’s above recipe and in no time I’ll be flinging myself into Great Debates! :smiley:

Notice that, per your multi-choice colorful poll, no one is outing the pastor.

Not a Christian, although the Presbyterian church into which I was confirmed never gave me the option of leaving, so I’ll feel happy butting my nose into their affairs, to mix body parts.

A few decades ago that happened at the church into which I was confirmed: the pastor was discovered having an affair with an aide. Under other circumstances, I wouldn’t object to his having continued as the pastor: imperfect people can continue.

However, his subsequent divorce was messy and painful, and his ex-wife was also a leader at the church, and her life revolved around its community. Under those circumstances, I think it was proper for him to resign, not out of a duty to the congregation, but out of a duty to his ex-wife. She gets the church in the divorce, so to speak.

I have experienced this twice, unfortunately. In both instances, the congregation did what Jesus recommended in Matthew 18:15-17. First someone went to the pastor and warned him (in both instances the pastor was a man) that the adultery was known. Both times the pastor denied it. Then some of the members of the council followed up with another meeting. In both instances, there was no doubt of what was going on.

In the first instance, the pastor then repented, ended the affair, publicly resigned, reconciled with his wife, and is now serving in a different capacity at a different church. The woman also repented and reconciled with her husband, although they both left that church and joined another.

In the second instance, the pastor essentially said it was none of anyone else’s business, since the other woman was not a member of his church. It was then brought before the council (the supervisory body of the church), and it was decided to ask for his resignation. At that point, the pastor had begun the process of the extremely messy and unpleasant divorce, and we would need to have a special congregational meeting to fire him (or “withdraw his letter of call” I think it was). Rather than go thru that, he decided to resign. AIUI, he left the ministry altogether, divorced his wife, and subsequently married the other woman. I believe he now manages a small restaurant.

We are Lutherans, but as you might expect, the Catholic scandals of recent years have made all the denominations of the Church highly aware of inappropriate behavior, especially sexual behavior, of their clergy, and how it needs to be handled and not hushed up.

I have my issues with the ELCA, but I was very pleasantly surprised with how they assisted with the process. They were entirely fair-minded, not merely to the congregation, but to everyone else involved. They have not necessarily had a lot of practice, but this is not the first time they have had to deal with this kind of thing. They have all kinds of manuals that they shared with us.

It was bad, but it could have been worse.

Regards,
Shodan