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Can an adulterer still serve?

Submitted: 11/28/2012
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Question: Should a baptized member who committed adultery serve in ministry, as deacon or minister?

Answer: A believer is not disqualified forever from serving as a deacon or pastor due to moral failure. On the other hand, we must recognize the seriousness of this sin and not be over-anxious to restore a person. There are many questions that must be answered: 1) What character weakness led to this sin? 2) Was it a short-lived affair or protracted? 3) Was this the first time or has there been a pattern of unfaithfulness? 4) How deeply and honestly has the person repented and worked toward making things right, at home and at the church? 5) Has the person shown a willingness to submit to whatever form of accountability the pastors have determined is needed?

Some ministerial organizations have a policy that if a licensed member is shown to have committed adultery, he or she may never again hold license with that organization. It is a forever disqualifier. We agree with this policy. We do, however, believe that the question as to whether or not a person serves in a local assembly should be determined by the leaders of that assembly. There are many factors that must be considered, and we believe the key is patience. If a man has truly repented, he will be willing to work to regain trust. If he has not, he will be resistant and will probably fall again sometime down the road.