According to a new Lifeway Survey, only a fourth of Protestant pastors believe a pastor who commits adultery should be permanently disqualified from ministry.
When Protestant pastors were asked how long -- if at all -- a pastor who commits adultery should withdraw from public ministry, 27 percent said for good, 16 percent for at least a year, and two percent said they don't need to step aside at all.
A full 31 percent answered they weren't sure.
Dr. Richard Land of Southern Evangelical Seminary tells OneNewsNow he didn’t see those numbers coming.
“I was surprised by it and disappointed, frankly, especially among the pastors,” he says. “It seems to me that they need to reread the Apostle Paul who said, I struggle to keep my body under subjection, lest having preached to others, I myself should be stamped disapproved and put on the shelf.”
That admonishment, he adds, “sounds permanent to me.”
LifeWay says it conducted a phone survey of 1,000 pastors to gauge their views on “moral failure,” learning, for example, that pastors with a congregation under 100 people were more likely (31 percent) to select “Withdraw permanently” than pastors (23 percent) with larger churches.
Other statistics found that black pastors (eight percent) are the least likely to select “Withdraw permanently,” and Pentecostals were the least likely (six percent) to answer “Withdraw permanently.”
Land says there was be some confusion over the issue of forgiveness versus restoration. A pastor can certainly be forgiven, he says, but the position of pastor is a position of trust and to fail is to betray the trust of all the people who are trusting you.