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

This happened in my family’s church some years back. It was sleazy and juicy and all crap broke loose. I never get to tell this story, so if I may?

My cousin Sally was having trouble in her marriage. She wanted to stop ‘acting like kids’ and playing 3-4 sports weekly and going out after for beer, but instead felt that their social life should naturally settle more towards churching and hanging out with extended family and fellow church goers. He felt like continuing to do all the things they’d always done together and not stopping and becoming Suburban Church Guy.
So, off she goes to Pastor for some marital counseling. Not only is he her Pastor, but he’s Sally’s best friend’s father, a man she’s grown up knowing as Pastor and fatherly figure/spiritual leader.
They begin an illicit affair. He’s cheating on his wife of 25 years, her on her husband of 2 years. Her own brother, also a church member, is the one who figured it out and ratted them out to everyone.
Result? Sally and her best girlfriend never speak again. Sally gets divorced and moves back home. Pastor is roundly condemned, resignation demanded and given, divorced and reduced to living on a former church member’s couch while trying to find a job. His ex-wife and kids stay in the church and never speak of him again, dunno if they ever speak to him. The brother wasn’t viewed very favorably by some, even though he was considered correct to have blown the lid on things, he also ratted out his own sister and that’s bad form.

There seemed to be zero debate about whether he should resign, most of the church was ready to bring on the torches and pitchforks. They seemed more inclined to ‘christian forgiveness’ on her behalf, imo largely because her extended family lobbied hard to have Sally seen as a young troubled girl preyed on by an older skeevy man. Maybe they wouldn’t have been so hard on him if the affair had been with a stranger and not a congregation member, or someone his own age and not his daughter’s best friend, no way to tell.

I’ve seen this sort of thing happen, too. Not always involving Pastors, but it is incredibly divisive.

For me, I would act if I knew what was going on - first, a direct personal approach by myself to the male side of the offending parties (I’d ask my wife to approach the female side). If that does not produce a result, then I would take it to the eldership. If they failed to act or the parties didn’t respond, then I’d take it to the wider congregation. If that didn’t produce a resignation and public acknowledgement, I’d be in the wrong church and I’d leave.

I don’t expect perfect behavior from my spiritual leaders, but I do expect them to behave morally and respond to their own failings in a proper way. If they can preach the 7th commandment, they had better well try to follow it.

I’m Catholic, so my issues with a pastor would be a lttle different.

Regardless, my feeling is, a pastor committing adultery can be forgiven but NOT resinstated to his former position of power.

This isn’t a perfect analogy, but if I had an employee or co-worker who was stealing petty cash from my company, I’d want that person fired, period. That doesn’t mean I want his life ruined forever- just that I’d never trust him/her with my money or my company’s money again.

A pastor who screwed up by screwing around may still be a fundamentally decent person, and I hope he can get his life and his marriage back on track. But I’d never trust him with a leadership position again. Time for him to step down, get a job in the lay world, and fix his family.

BTW, the 10 Commandments apply to Jews too. How would Jewish Dopers react to marital infidelity on the part of their rabbi, male or female?

I daresay any practicing Jews among us will object to the phrasing “apply to Jews too.”

I was actually in a very, very similar situation once.

In the Episcopal Church there is a very detailed process for reporting and investigating misconduct by a clergy person. If I knew there was an affair going on, it would be my responsibility to report it to the diocesan intake officer for clergy misconduct accusations. From there, if the charges were credible, there would be an investigation conducted by a small committee of clergy and lay people who would then make recommendations to the bishop.

If the facts were as described in the OP, I think the priest should probably resign (definitely, if his partner were a member of the congregation). He or she should spend some time away from parish ministry. I don’t think the congregation is entitled to know all the details.

Since adultery is not a criminal matter, I would accept the judgment of the bishop as final. That’s different from a situation of abuse or something like that, where the civil authorities would also be involved.

I can’t be bothered to read through all the poll options, but, yeah, that happened in my Catholic parish. It was, um, “known” in the community. The pastor (ETA: I’m sorry. He was just an associate pastor) never said a thing. Eventually, he just left the priesthood. That sounds about right to me.

I’m Catholic, but I play the organ in a few Liberal Protestant churches with married clergy, and I know their communities quite well. I think it behooves a pastor in that situation to at least step aside, and leave their fate to the church community to decide. But I would be reticent to throw them under the bus if it was an isolated incident.

Either he leaves or I do. I’m not letting someone behaving in such an immoral way have any part of leading me spiritually.

Funny, I am aware of a situation that is identical to what you’ve described. I wonder if it was the same case, or how common something like that is…? The situation I know about happened circa 1985, give or take a year or two. Is your story that old, or something more recent?

Identical?I am sure you could find many incidents of a priest, like any manager of funds, embezzling money.

It happened at our church (well, technically it’s not mine anymore, since I haven’t really gone there except for a wedding or a funeral in ages). The last pastor, along with his secretary*, were found to have been embezzling church funds for years, spending it on big fancy cars, trips to Vegas, all kinds of luxury items, etc. Unfortunately, they weren’t able to indict him, since by the time they discovered it, he was dying. (He did the old “death bed confession” thing) They did prosecute the secretary, although I can’t remember the outcome. The really slimy thing is that a few years beforehand, when a discrepancy was found in the church finances, they managed to pin the blame on one woman involved in the treasurey, who was dying of cancer. Lovely.

The thing that amused me when it all came out was this was the same guy who’d always remind parishioners during his sermons that the church was always in need of funds, and it was your duty to give. HA!

*Yes, most people suspected they were having an affair, but no one could prove it.

I think a pastor should step down if they are having an affair - I don’t think it means they are doomed forever, but while it is going on, I don’t think they should be worried about leading the church - they should be focusing on their own issues.

At my baby’s dedication, I had a woman stand up during the service and confess an affair with one of the outreach pastors (Korean Outreach, not that it matters). It was a strange and inappropriate moment considering that the whole point of the service was a baby’s dedication.

They both left the church. It was a Southern Baptist, FTR - the church no longer exists.

Confess to the congregation as a whole? probably not. Resign? probably and absolutely if they confessed.

This does rip apart congregations, especially close congregations. There is no way that just one person knows (especially if I’m that person). Many people know. There will be rumors, there will be problems, there will be issues - the pastor owes it to that church to not increase those problems by sticking around and making things worse.

Someone having an affair (on either side) is displaying piss poor judgment and likely has stuff going on that makes that they should be sorting out. Neither of those make them a good candidate to lead a church at that time.

If the person with whom they were having the affair is in the congregation, I would suspect that the pastor is abusing their position. There can be some weird power dynamics between the members of the pastoral staff & the laity. Relationships there between single people already bring up questions - when the relationship involves cheating it’s worse.

I agree with Shodan. If this is a pastor of a church with the Christian Bible as it’s basis, then the process described in Matthew 18:15-17 should be followed.

The only question, really, is who should a third party go to? If one believes that pastoral adultery a sin against all church members, then go directly to him. IMHO, “listens to you” includes stopping the affair and confessing to the spouse(s) involved, so the steps continue until those conditions are all met. If one believes the sin is only against the spouse(s) involved, then go to them with the information and let them address the pastor.

Also IMHO, one only need confess to the parties affected. If I lie to Skald and it only affects him I am under no obligation to confess to anyone other than him. If I lie to Skald, and he bases a decision on that lie that affects his entire family, I need to confess to his entire family. So should a cheating pastor tell the church of his dalliance? If it affected the church in any way (perhaps as a no-so-secret secret) then yes.

It was around 1990, and happened in the Midwest.

Is that enough information to rule it out, or possibly be the same one?

BTW, as for the church’s fate, it was relocated some years later due to eminent domain when a highway was expanded, and now operates under a different name.

Well said, just not well spelted. Adultery is the death penalty under the first covenant, for good and Godly reasons. That shit’s hardest on the children, the marital trust is broken, the family is dissolved. A pastor/priest/minister is a position of power, maybe y’all might want to check your own laws … it may well be felony rape, like judges having sex with defendants or jailers having sex with inmates.

As a Catholic, I think a public apology and offer to resign will do. People are forgiven for that. No crap about higher standards and impeccable what-not.

I wouldn’t. If they can’t keep their peckers in their pants, then they shouldn’t be telling me anything about self denial and holiness and sin. And, taking up a collection in the name of all of these good things.
Let them get jobs as janitors or security guards…nobody’s throwing them under a bus…just highlighting their unfitness for the job of ‘pastor’.

Said pastor’s job is to ‘lead’ the congregation. If that’s what it is, then he, being on a sure path to Hell, would lead flock to the same place.

1990 sounds a LITTLE late but not out of the question. Definitely the Midwest.

I don’t know what happened to the church later.

If I’m not mistaken, the embezzlement was to pay off a gambling debt.

Still, as others in this thread have pointed out … I guess there is nothing unique about pastors taking funds from their church. I just thought the story sounded so similar to the one I know of.