the Hope of Survivors

Why Does Having a Title Give Pastors the License to Do Whatever They Want?Douglas Goodman

Why does having a title give pastors a license to do whatever they want and not be held accountable? You don’t think this is true? Well let’s look at the evidence. In the UK and America you will find many examples of politicians who resigned because they were found to be involved in something that brought their integrity into question such as extra marital affairs or swindling funds. Even company executives who are caught out for engaging in immoral practices have had to resign from their positions. No one said “he who is without sin cast the first stone” or anything like that. Knowing scripture should make you wiser but instead people use scripture to justify their foolishness sometimes.

Now let us take a look at the church system. I have been in a church where the pastor was sentenced to three and a half years in prison for indecent assault and perverting the course of justice (he was also accused of rape but found not guilty). Did I leave? No! I was there for seven years. So I know what I’m writing about. I too defended my pastor and cheered when he went back into the pulpit. So before you accuse me of judging and quote another scripture out of context, please note that I have taken the log out of my eye. I can now point out the spec that is in your eye if you are in the same position. Matthew 7:1-5 doesn’t mean that we shouldn’t speak out when we see something that is wrong and detrimental to the Body of Christ. It simply means that if you are practising the same sin you cannot judge your brother or sister for it, because that same measure of judgement would obviously apply to you. That would also make you a hypocrite.

However, when you have repented of this sin (taken the log out of your eye). You will be in the position to help your brother or sister overcome the same sin that you overcame. We are suppose to judge (not condemn) one another and encourage each other to do good works. You are to judge what is right using the word of God (1 Cor 5:9-13, 1 Cor 10:15, Luke 12:57.1 Cor 6:3-5, John 7:24). I would rather my brother and sister judge me first so that I could repent before God judges me for it.

So why do I say that having a title gives pastors a license to do whatever they want? Well imagine a pastor has been found guilty of abusing some of the women in the church. He even goes to prison for it so the world has judged him. But what does the church do? They pray for his release while he is in prison, comparing his ‘plight’ to that of Paul and Silas who were also imprisoned (but for the gospel’s sake, not for wrongdoing!). As soon as he is out of prison (it is common in the UK for a convict to serve half their sentence if they behave well in prison) there is applause at his return. While people are singing praises to God they notice the pastor is back, they begin to clap and shout for joy that he has returned (forgetting that they were praising God a minute ago). Do people expect him to step down? After all, even in the secular world they recognise when a politician in this position should step down. No, in church when a pastor shows himself as not being qualified to be an overseer, the people do NOT require him to step down. He is allowed to get right back into preaching even when he hasn’t been away for a significant period of time. I don’t have to imagine that scenario because that is what happened in my former church.

Eddie Long is accused of using his position to take advantage of young boys in the congregation and having sexual relations with them. The law cannot intervene because they were of age at the time (although at the time they were alleged only to be 17 and 18 years of age). He doesn’t admit guilt but he pays them money as compensation. Doesn’t sound like the actions of an innocent man. Of course people’s first reaction is to assume the boys are lying because thinking about the facts would be too unnerving for them. It’s easier to stay in a state of ignorance. He stays away for a few weeks and he is back preaching again with rapturous applause at his return. He even allows himself to be made an idol of and crowned King. But what do the people say? Well “I’m sure he didn’t mean for that ‘Rabbi’ to crown him as king. He didn’t know what that man was going to do”.  He only apologises for it not because his church held him accountable (no, they cheered while this abomination was going on) but because the world spoke out against it!  If it was up to the church we would turn a blind eye and carry on as ‘normal’.

Jamal Bryant is found out to be an adulterer and he even proceeds to compare himself to King David and says “He’s the man!. The congregation buy it. Cheering and giving praise to him with the pride evident on his face! Again he is back preaching in the pulpit, he continues to be an overseer when he clearly isn’t bearing the fruit that the bible says a leader should have. But hey he has a ‘title’ (pastor, prophet, evangelist, doctor, apostle, bishop etc), that means he has a license to do whatever he wants and not be held accountable. If these ‘pastors’ were held accountable they would no longer be in positions of leadership.

I recently watched a youtube video about a pastor who went to prison for abusing children. (See: Protests Against Sex Offender Pastor BAC...)

He is on the sex offenders register! What do the congregation do? They allow him back into the pulpit and continue to believe that he is qualified to be a pastor. What are some of the famous lines they give: “he who is without sin cast the first stone”. Do the people who quote this even know where this is written in the bible? Jesus said this because in those days adultery was punishable by death. It was common practice to stone a woman to death if she was caught committing adultery. If you see someone with stones in their hands then by all means quote that scripture. Do not quote scripture out of context to justify foolishness. Nobody was talking about stoning anyone to death. These people have been taught by the pastors they defend to quote scriptures out of context to justify their behaviour and to ignore the pleas of others whose eyes have been opened to these things. They have been trained for years to ignore people who are trying to get through to them and talk sense to them. “Oh that person is trying to take you out of your destiny”, “Don’t listen to gossips”, “These people are destiny stealers”, “They are bitter”, “Just focus on Jesus”. Let’s not even mention, ‘touch not my anointed!’ Another scripture taken out of context that is mentioned a few times in the bible simply in reference to physically harming or even killing. This has never been in reference to speaking out against something that you know is wrong. You know this because God’s word says so.

A pastor abuses children and they are still not called to step down. Instead they are welcomed back in the church to preach and the children have to go in a separate room elsewhere.  A paedophile pastor is welcomed back into the pulpit while the children are thrown out. And by the way they did not put the children in a separate place because they had enough sense to do this. They did this because the world has laws that say that a sex offender should not be around children. Wow, the world has standards but this church doesn’t. I’m sure if they had their way that pastor would be back preaching in the pulpit to both the children and the adults. The pastor in my former church certainly isn’t separated from the children. But if that man applied for a job in the secular world that involved working with children (or vulnerable adults) he would not be allowed to work in such positions. I know as a school teacher that you are checked thoroughly for any criminal records. If you have any criminal records you cannot be employed as a teacher or any position involving young people, let alone a record for a sexual offence. So don’t sound surprised when I say that being a pastor gives you a license to do whatever you want. If abusing children doesn’t cause the congregation to speak out and not stand for it I don’t know what will! So what does a pastor have to do for people to require him to step down?

By the way saying that these pastors should step down is NOT the same as condemning them. They can still be restored gently back into fellowship but the bible does not say that they can be restored back into their position as leaders. There is a big difference. (Galatians 6:1).

James 3:1(KJV) 
My brethren, be not many masters, knowing that we shall receive the greater condemnation.

What fruit are they bearing? 

1 Timothy 3 (NKJV)
3  This is a faithful saying: If a man desires the position of a bishop,[a] he desires a good work. 2 A bishop then must be blameless, the husband of one wife, temperate, sober-minded, of good behaviour, hospitable, able to teach; 3 not given to wine, not violent, not greedy for money,[b] but gentle, not quarrelsome, not covetous; 4 one who rules his own house well, having his children in submission with all reverence 5 (for if a man does not know how to rule his own house, how will he take care of the church of God?); 6 not a novice, lest being puffed up with pride he fall into the same condemnation as the devil. 7 Moreover he must have a good testimony among those who are outside, lest he fall into reproach and the snare of the devil.

1 Peter 5:2 (NKJV)
2  Shepherd the flock of God which is among you, serving as overseers, not by compulsion but willingly,[a] not for dishonest gain but eagerly;

Titus 1:5-9
5  For this reason I left you in Crete, that you should set in order the things that are lacking, and appoint elders in every city as I commanded you—6 if a man is blameless, the husband of one wife, having faithful children not accused of dissipation or insubordination. 7 For a bishop[b] must be blameless, as a steward of God, not self-willed, not quick-tempered, not given to wine, not violent, not greedy for money, 8 but hospitable, a lover of what is good, sober-minded, just, holy, self-controlled, 9 holding fast the faithful word as he has been taught, that he may be able, by sound doctrine, both to exhort and convict those who contradict.

Acts 20:28 (NKJV)
28 Therefore take heed to yourselves and to all the flock, among which the Holy Spirit has made you overseers, to shepherd the church of God[a] which He purchased with His own blood.

1 Corinthians 9:27
27  But I discipline my body and bring it into subjection, lest, when I have preached to others, I myself should become disqualified.

It is the Holy Spirit that appoints overseers not man. It doesn’t matter how many qualifications or titles a person has. That doesn’t automatically make them a leader. It is God that chooses them. If it is God that has chosen them they will bear good fruit! God does not choose adulterers and child molesters to lead his people. The standard God sets for overseers is high, let us not lower it to a standard that is even lower than that of the world. This happens because of our own idolatry, laziness (to study the word) or desire to live in some sort of fanstasy. This is serious and if you really loved your pastor you would pray that God grants him repentance and hold him accountable for his behaviour. We should ask God for wisdom concerning these matters (James 1:5).

Originally published at http://straitnnarrow.wordpress.com/2012/05/03/why-does-having-a-title-give-pastors-the-license-to-do-whatever-they-want/. Reprinted here with permission.

The LORD is nigh unto them that are of a broken heart...Psalms 34:18