Should they be held to a higher moral standard?

Should they be held to a higher moral standard?
May 02
09:46 2019

As I sat down to think of my next topic to cover for my discussion column, I was having a hard time nailing down exactly what I wanted to touch on this week. I was finally able to settle on how pastors who backslide and are never forgiven by some.

I came to the conclusion on this topic by chance. I was watching the final round of the Masters golf tournament and had the opportunity to watch Tiger Woods win. I then thought about how many of the analysts, reporters and commentators spoke about his personal shortcomings more than his monumental golf achievement. It seemed that even though he had made it back to the mountaintop and apparently gotten his life in order, some still wanted to focus on his past transgressions.

That made me think of pastors who have committed public crimes or sins and how they are looked upon by their congregations and the community at large. Let me preface this by saying when I mean public crimes or sins, I am referring to common sins that any typical man or woman would succumb to such as adultery, embezzlement, or drunk driving. I am not referring to crimes such as child abuse or sexual assault.

It seems to me when a pastor has fallen from grace, so to speak, he has a hard time or may never return to the status he once held. I don’t think that is fair, because we are all human and we all make mistakes. I am not saying a pastor should not be held to a higher standard, but we as Christians are taught to forgive, yet many of these ministers are not given that chance.

My personal opinion is that no one is perfect, so if a pastor commits a sin or minor crime, who am I to pass judgement on him? Once again, I do believe they are held to a higher standard, but if the issue is not habitual and only happened once, why don’t we give them the benefit of the doubt like we do others?

When I thought about why that is, I figured since many people put ministers on a pedestal, when they fall off, it shatters their perfect image of that person. If they really thought about it, they would be honest with themselves and admit none of us is perfect. I think some people are hurt that they can never look at that person the same any longer, which causes them to hold onto some sort of resentment toward that minister.

I am curious to know why we don’t hold most celebrities to that same standard. Time and time again, we see actors, entertainers and professional athletes do things that are very heinous, but we almost always forgive them for some reason. I think ministers deserve that and more, being they are being called by God to lead a flock. 

I was curious to see what others thought about this topic, because I figured my opinion is not in the majority. I attempted to speak with a range of people who differ in age, race and gender to see how they felt.

One young lady I spoke with said she would have a hard time forgiving her pastor if he did something immoral or illegal and it became public. When asked why, she said “because he should know better.

“Pastors should know that they are being watched by any and everyone,” she said. “They should know that some people don’t have their best interests at heart and want to get what they can from them. Pastors need to have their guards and be prepared for anything, because temptation is all around us and I expect them to fight it off better than I do.”

An elderly member of a local church says she has been through six different pastors during her time at her church.  She said she has seen many scandals and heard rumors of transgressions of pastors. For her, those held no weight in how she felt about the pastor.

“What people seem to forget is that we are all human and the Good Book says we are all sinners, so who am I to pass judgement on anyone else when I have sinned myself,” she said. “We are taught to repent and learn from our mistakes, so if they do, then I am fine with that, because if I know they have prayed for forgiveness and moved forward, it makes them more relatable.”

The last gentleman I spoke with had an interesting perspective. He said the average man or woman has no idea what a pastor must endure daily. He says the temptation to sin could be dramatically higher for a minster than a person in the congregation. 

“We never know what they are dealing with,” he said. “It’s not fair that we judge them on the one sin they did commit and not commend them for the 100 they did not. Some of us who sin all day every day and are the first to pass judgment. We need to be fair and let the Lord handle the judgement and trust that He will place the right person in position to lead us. If that person has committed a public sin, so be it.”

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Timothy Ramsey

Timothy Ramsey

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