The Bible calls all Christians to be above reproach, to have unquestionable character, to have a life that is so consistent that no blame or disgrace can be attached to it. Pastors (and surely any others with a public platform) are expected to exemplify this virtue. When they have been involved in a scandal that, if found out, would bring reproach upon Christ and his church, the best and wisest and holiest thing they can do is to protect Christ’s cause by removing themselves from public ministry. This is a display of true repentance, a proof of genuine remorse.
In recent months the evangelical world has been rocked by a number of scandals, by news of yet more leaders who used their churches or ministries to indulge themselves to the harm of others. These are yet more cases of men who will no doubt stand before God some day and plead all their accomplishments—“Didn’t I preach the gospel for you? Didn’t I encourage many people in their faith? Didn’t I lead many people to the Lord?” Yet despite such pleas, they will surely hear words of the severest condemnation. They will learn in that day that accomplishments stacked as high as heaven are no recompense for character sunk as low as hell.
Their stories are consistent with so many others in a number of details, including this: There were many times at which they should have stepped aside. There were many times at which, had they genuinely loved the Lord and wanted the best for his church, they would have acknowledged their disqualification from any kind of public ministry and then quietly backed away. They would have displayed their love for the Lord by their willingness to abandon the platform they had proven themselves unworthy of. There may still have been scandal, but it would have been tempered by their genuine repentance, their genuine willingness to leave behind all the benefits that came with their platform. It would have been tempered if only they had shown humility by initiating their own departure.
But that’s not the way it goes, is it? No one ever resigns. No one ever steps aside. No one ever has such integrity that he counts himself disqualified and removes himself from public ministry. Or very few, anyway.