Saturday, November 04, 2006

Avoiding Sexual Sin: Advice to Pastors

Mark Driscoll offers a lengthy post on advice to pastors in the wake of the Ted Haggard scandal-tragedy. It's worth reading the whole thing, even if not all of his suggestions will be equally applicable to all leaders. Here his his conclusion:

In conclusion, I say none of this as moralism. Indeed, this is a deeply rooted gospel issue. How can we proclaim that our God is a faithful Trinitarian community if we are not faithful to our marriage covenant and family? How can we say that the same power that raised Christ from the dead lives in us if we have no holiness in our life? How can we proclaim that we are new creations in Christ if we continually return to lap up the vomit of our old way of life? How can we preach that sin is to be repented of if we fail to model that ongoing repentance? How can we say that God is our highest treasure and greatest joy when we trade Him for sin that defiles our hands and defames His name?

I do not know the guilt or innocence of Haggard. But I do know that this is a sobering reminder to take heed of, lest we fall.
(HT: Steve McCoy)

I'd also recommend reading John Piper's paper--written years ago--on how Christian leaders should avoid sexual sin. Piper lists ten potential pitfalls and proposes ten protections against them:

1. PITFALL: Falling in love with the present world.
PROTECTION: Think long and hard about the deadly poison of world-love and ponder the never-ending delights of the mountain spring of God's approval and fellowship and beauty.

2. PITFALL: Loss of horror at offending the majesty of God's holiness through sin.
PROTECTION: Meditate on the Biblical truth that all our acts are acts toward God and not just toward man, and that God is so holy and pure that he will not countenace the slightest sin, but hates it with omnipotent hatred, and that the holiness of God is the most valuable treasure in the universe and the very deepest of delights to those whose way is pure.

3. PITFALL: A sense of immunity from accountability and authority.
PROTECTION: Submit yourself to a council of Biblically minded, spiritually wise advisers.

4. PITFALL: Succumbing to itching ears as love of truth evaporates.
PROTECTION: Cultivate a love for truth, even in its smallest details, and turn a deaf ear to the desires of men to have their ears scratched with vague moralisms that massage them in their sin.

5. PITFALL: A vanishing attention to Scripture.
PROTECTION: Give yourself untiringly to the study, meditation and memorization of Holy Scripture.

6. PITFALL: A growing disregard for the spiritual good of his followers.
PROTECTION: Labor in praying and caring to stir up your heart to love all your people.

7. PITFALL: Disregard for the Biblical mystery of marriage.
PROTECTION: Remind yourself repeatedly that your marriage is a living drama of Christ's relationship to the church.

8. PITFALL: Compartmentalizing of the leader's life.
PROTECTION: View everything—absolutely everything—as woven together by its relationship to the value of the glory of God.

9. PITFALL: A sense of being above the necessity of suffering and self-denial.
PROTECTION: Never forget the promise: "Through many tribulations we must enter the kingdom of God" (Acts 14:22). And never forget that the Son of Man had no place to lay his head (Luke 9:58). And develop a Biblical theology of futility and suffering, especially from Romans 8:17-30.

10. PITFALL: Giving in to self-pity under the pressures and loneliness of leadership. PROTECTION: Embrace the essence of "Christian Hedonism"—the doctrine that no one who suffers the loss of any earthly blessing in the service of Christ will fail to be repaid a hundred-fold now (with persecutions!) and in the age to come eternal life (Mark 10:29-30).