Help me out here…

The Associated Press reports:

“A tiny Louisville church’s newest minister is a gifted music leader and popular among its three dozen members.

Mark Hourigan is also a sex offender. Almost a decade ago, long before he joined the flock at the City of Refuge Worship Center, he was convicted of sexually abusing an 11-year-old boy in central Kentucky. Hourigan served a five-year sentence and the 41-year-old was placed on Kentucky’s sex offender registry for the rest of his life.”

Read the whole story.

As one would expect, there is some controversy here among the members.

What do you think? I know we need to have the discussion here at P&P concerning “fallen” pastors with regard to adultery, but here is a discussion about restored sex offenders. Is there such a thing?

Does grace allow for such a restoration in society and the church?

I know that we have a convicted sex offender living about 1.5 miles away from our house. I have no idea of his spiritual condition, but, regardless, I have showed a picture to my kids and told them to run home and tell us if they ever see him in the neighborhood. If he was my pastor, I imagine my kids would not be allowed any interaction with him, most certainly in private.

I know that this is not an issue of salvation. I know that but for the grace of God, we may carry this shame. I am just not sure what grace looks like here. I am much more willing to allow a pastor in the seat of authority and influence who has committed adultery. This is just different.

Let me refine and rephrase the first question:

Is there ever a second chance for sex offenders in the Christian church and society? If so, what does that second chance look like? Would you ever go to a church that has a former sex offender as the pastor? (If you answer this, please tell us if you have kids—I think it makes a difference).

C Michael Patton
C Michael Patton

C. Michael Patton is the primary contributor to the Parchment and Pen/Credo House Blog. He has been in ministry for nearly twenty years as a pastor, author, speaker, and blogger. Th.M. Dallas Theological Seminary (2001), president of Credo House Ministries and Credo Courses, author of Now that I'm a Christian (Crossway, 2014) Increase My Faith (Credo House, 2011), and The Theology Program (Reclaiming the Mind Ministries, 2001-2006), host of Theology Unplugged, and primary blogger here at Parchment and Pen. But, most importantly, husband to a beautiful wife and father to four awesome children. Michael is available for speaking engagements. Find him everywhere: Find him everywhere

    45 replies to "Open Discussion: Former Sex Offender Now in the Pastorate…Does Grace Cover This?"

    • Barry Wallace

      I certainly believe that can and does forgive every imaginable kind of sin (1 Cor. 6:11). However, I doubt than any convicted pedophile could ever be considered above reproach (Titus 1:7) and therefore would be ineligible for the pastorate. That’s my theological answer.

      My personal answer is, no, I would not attend a church that had a former pedophile as a pastor; and yes, I have kids.

    • Rey Reynoso

      Tough one. in my mind I think “sure, there’s grace but there’s also wisdom.” I think a church can happily accept a member who had a failing with money issues; but it would be a mistake to put him back in a position where he can stumble with that same sin. So put the guy with money issues in a different ministry.

      So the sexual offender has lost access to the pastorate, to children’s ministry, and to counseling young people. But he can be doing something else in the body of Christ. Maybe counting the money (the stuff the embezzler couldn’t do) and around plenty of men.

      But, if I were to have the guy in my church I think I know how cautious I would be. I’d talk to him, I’d even hug him; but if my kids are around, I’d be standing in front of them whenever talking to him. Maybe not to that extent, but you know what I mean.

      And yes, I have kids: three of them.

    • Sam

      QUOTE-“It was a really beautiful ceremony,” said the Rev. Aletha Fields, a high school teacher and gay rights activist. “The sanctuary was full because there were people from out of town.”endQUOTE

      i don’t think that church cares nor do they understand grace. But, no, no leadership role.

    • Jerry

      Or do you not know that the unrighteous will not inherit the kingdom of God? Do not be deceived: neither the sexually immoral, nor idolaters, nor adulterers, nor men who practice homosexuality, nor thieves, nor the greedy, nor drunkards, nor revilers, nor swindlers will inherit the kingdom of God. And such were some of you. But you were washed, you were sanctified, you were justified in the name of the Lord Jesus Christ and by the Spirit of our God. – 1 Corinthians 6:9-11 (ESV)

    • Nick Norelli

      There’s been some discussion on this at my blog, and in short, while I believe that God can and does deliver people from all manners of sin and wickedness, there are just some things that are so heinous that I’d never be able to trust a person who has done them (child molestation and rape being the two most prevalent). I would never attend a church whose pastor was a convicted sex offender. If I was a pastor I would never ordain a convicted sex offender to any ministry in the church I was set over. As I mentioned in the comments on my blog, I come at this subject with prejudice because I know more than a couple of individuals who have been sexually abused by clergymen (and believe it or not, not Roman Catholic priests).

      And for the record, I do have a kid, a 7 year old daughter.

    • Jonathan A.

      Somethings to think about when you respond…

      Does it make a difference if they were a minor when they committed their sex-crime?

    • Steve McHenry

      Grace? Sure. Forgiveness? Absolutely. Trusted in a leadership role? NEVER! I’m sorry, but I come from the Dr. Gene Scott School of Tough Love. That guy would have a hard time ever getting on my good side, or gaining my trust.

    • Joe Martin

      I have kids. Two daughters, one 2 years old, one 1 year old.

      For me, it 100% depends on what the person’s crime was, to become a sex offender. Right now, most states criminalize any sexual relationship between an 18-year old and a 17-year old. Or between a 17-year old and a 16-year old. (The exact ages vary by each state’s age of consent.) I don’t consider that person to be a sex offender. I don’t even consider that person to have committed a crime at all.

      Please understand. I’m not condoning pre-marital sex. I’m just saying that pre-martial sex shouldn’t be a crime and shouldn’t follow someone around for the rest of his life. There’s a huge difference between a “relationship” with a 30-year age difference and one with a 1-2 year age difference. But in most states, the law doesn’t recognize that difference at all. But, in that case, yes I would say that grace covers it.

      In this case, no, I don’t think grace does cover it. A pastor is expected to have contact with every member of his congregation. A pastor is expected to be a trusted leader. It may be sinful of me, but I would have a very hard time trusting a man who’d abused someone that much younger than himself.

      I think there’s a time dimension to the issue as well. The article seems to say he’s been clean for 10 years. That’s good, but not yet good enough for me. I’d find it easier to trust someone who’d been clean for 30 or 40 years than I would to trust someone who’s only been clean a few years.

    • Jason

      I have three children. Something very similar happened at our last church. Due to the handling of the specific circumstances and other leadership issues, we felt we had to leave, painful as it was to go.

      The circumstances were that the pastor’s son abused his young daughter. He was likely under the influence of drugs or some-such, which is not to excuse either such behaviors. He was taken out of children’s ministry by his father because he was suspected. However, the issue was never brought to light to the elders or leaders of the church. It was never spoken of until word of his trials came out (public record). He was eventually convicted and sentenced to a very light sentence and home-arrest. He stayed with the pastor during this time, while no one knew what was going on.

      Sin, no matter what form (adultery, lust, child-abuse, lying), takes on a new meaning when it erupts from our hearts and we take action. It is the action that determines the severity of the consequences in the world in which we live out our Christian sanctification. One may be a Christian and look fondly on a good-looking woman (what man doesn’t struggle with this??) but it is taking action on that – perhaps adultery – that may break up his marriage. Not that the lusting man is more justified in his sin – they are both sin. To be sure, the adulterer does carry a heavier load – extreme guilt, broken relationships, children who may have to carry it as well.

      The Bible gives us insight, though. 1 Tim 3 – Paul states it well when speaking of someone who aspires to be an elder. He writes of the qualifications of an elder being a certain position held by a Christian. The assumption is that the other individuals who would not have passed the “eldership” qualifications were still Christians but not “above reproach.” It was one’s conduct, relationships, lack of self-control that disqualified them from being elders. This all makes sense intuitively to us: put someone in leadership who can lead. Put someone in leadership who can teach and rightly divide the Word. Put someone in leadership whom others respect.

      When a leader loses respect, the leader is no longer the leader. In the same way, Paul is listing “common sense” qualifications in recommending that leaders be chosen wisely. Paul did not list as a qualification for an elder that the person be forgiven. It’s assumed – but wouldn’t qualify him for leadership.

      Another opinion: if the people would not be comfortable with their kids being around him, I would think that a forgiven man (one who has looked on his sin, God’s righteousness, and God’s grace) will humbly not seek or even decline a leadership position knowing the potential fallout. Not that the person would not have a ministry – of course he would! Who else is able to witness to sex offenders than one who was! How merciful that God would enable him to have a story of forgiveness to share with others! (Lk 7:47).

    • Andrew Shead

      I encourage everyone to watch the movie “The Woodsman.”

      It is about a pedophile who returns to society and the difficulty he has in work, life, relationships and with his specific struggle. The way the movie plays out, you’re asked to sympathize with him. It is an excellent exercise in thinking about how far the grace of your God extends.

      In the specific case being discussed, I’m sure I would struggle with it. I think it would help me if he was upfront about the past sin, repentant and open. Furthermore, I’d prefer to see it happen in a church with a more orthodox interpretation of scripture. The further from scripture they stray, especially on issues of gender and sexuality, the harder the time I’m going to have accepting his sexually troubled past. I’d also like to see what the elder oversight & accountability structure over the pastor was.

      With those changes, I’m not against it. As it appears to stand, I probably wouldn’t be attending the church anyway.

    • Nathan J. Norman

      No. Absolutely not. Forgiveness and trust are two completely different things. Biblically there are numerous instances where a bad decision led to a life-long consequence. The Israelites were not allowed to enter the Promised Land because of a moment of cowardice doubt (even when they repented and tried to take the land themselves). Moses was denied access to the Promised Land because he struck the rock instead of speaking to it!

      So while we can experience forgiveness in this life, we do not experience completed sanctification. One bad mistake can follow a person throughout their entire lives. We can forgive them, love on them and welcome them into the family of God . . . but not elevate them to a place of trusted leadership.

      How can a pastor shepherd people who don’t trust him?

      I have no children.

    • Blayne

      We throw around the term sex-offender like a net, catching any and all in its trap. As the previous commenter Joe stated, sex-offender does not always mean pedophile or molester. One can be label such for very minor offenses, i.e. urinating in public.

      With that being said, we must use diligence and wisdom in such matters. Grace does indeed cover a multitude of sins, but sometimes our sins cast long shadows. Also, it may be safe to ask when the crime occured, before conversion or after? The qualifications for elders given by Paul speak to those who were seeking to be elders after their conversion. Can we expect someone who is unconverted to even have a care to live above reproach?

      If this individual committed his crime while confessing to be a Christian, then we must ask ourselves if such a person has indeed disqualified himself from leadership and ministry.

      I have no children, but I do have a family member who is a Christian and is labeled a sex-offender. The crime was committed before he was a believer, and was not molestation or rape. He was 18 she was 14.

    • Demian Farnworth

      Of course there’s restoration. But there’s also prudence. I even question restoring anyone who’s breached trust on that level back into authority. I didn’t read the story, but I’m guessing he’s not pastor in a church near the place he committed the crime.

      Grace is one thing. Restoration into leadership, quite another.

    • Jake Johnson

      I understand the argument for prudence and wisdom. I personally find it hard however to condemn someone from the office off eldership for something that is not clearly stated as disqualifying sin. I believe, as many have stated, that you must look at each situation individually. How long ago did the event occur? What were the circumstances? How has his behavior been since? My wife became caught up in some things she shouldn’t have, and ended up committing adultery. She has since repented of that sin and I have forgiven her. Is she not still my wife? Do I not allow her access into my heart? I am only stating questions here for us to think about. I believe the dilemma is that we are not making decisions to protect ourselves, but to protect those we love most, our children. Personally I believe that you attend a local church because you are called to it, not out of convenience. If mature and faithful men and women support him and feel called to the ministry that he oversees, then I wish to support them in there efforts to further the gospel. I personally would not attend unless I felt called by the Lord to do so. My fear is that we would limit the grace of God, after seeing what He can do with and through great sinners like David and Paul.

    • Eric S. Mueller

      Obviously our faith is about restoration and renewal. From what I understand, music minister is somewhat of a secondary role. In a church large enough to support that role as a paid position, I think it could be all right, as long as the congregation agrees, for a person gifted in that role to fill it. However, his past would prevent him from taking a pastoring or leadership role, and he should never be placed in a position to be left alone with children.

    • JS

      Here’s our story. My MIL married a man who had previously sexually abused a 5 year old girl (his step daughter). He was convicted on a lesser charge, never served time, never registered as a sex offender. MIL knew this going into the marriage and, because she forgave him for it, never mentioned it to the rest of us. He ended up sexually molesting my 5 year old daughter because MIL allowed her to be alone with him. He’s now serving a 20-year sentence. Forgiveness is one thing, but protecting our children is another. He should not be allowed a position of authority such as a pastorate. Are all parents going to be warned as the church accepts new members?

    • Mike B.

      I’m going to try to answer this question simply.

      Is there grace? Yes. But only God can know if a person is truly reformed. As for the rest of us, in a case like this, I don’t think we could afford to take the risk.

    • Nick Norelli

      Andrew: I’ve seen The Woodsman and the scene where he has the little girl sit on his lap in the park is one of the most disturbing things I’ve ever seen on film!

      Nathan: I couldn’t agree more!

      Demian: The man in question is not actually a pastor, but has been appointed as the head of the church’s music ministry.

    • Nick Norelli

      JS: I’m so sorry to hear that. May God continue to comfort you and your family. But that is a perfect example of how/why such individuals cannot be trusted, regardless of whether or not God has forgiven them.

      Mike B.: Exactly!

    • Tom D

      Tough question. As a father, I say absolutely not. As a redeemed believer I say yes.

      Where did God publish the list of super bad sins that disqualify one forever from the full privileges of redemption?

      Or which of you has been the recipient of this semi-grace you would bestow on another so quickly?

      How many of you would like to go to a prison ministry and present this gospel of semi-redemption to a sex offender?

      Our Savior saves us completely, and our God cast our sins into the depths of the sea and doesn’t remember them anymore. Perhaps we should try to forget them as well.

      It is required that a man be found faithful, and caution should be used in any case when adults are dealing with children.

      Each of you once were also bound for hell fire just like that sex offender, so come down off your high horses and remember you did not save yourselves, but needed the very same redemption that he received. If it was good enough for you, why isn’t it good enough for him?

    • jntowers

      @Tom D – I don’t think the issue is disqualification from redemption, or “semi-grace”. Yes, our Savior saves us completely, but clearly certain sins have more consequences than others. He has to live with the consequences of his sin – and in his case, one of the biggest consequences is a lifetime of suspicion of the people around him.

      Sexual sin that was taken to this level is not just a simple thing – it’s most likely an addiction of some sort. You don’t throw an alcoholic into bars, or a rapist into a strip club, etc… regardless of how long they’ve been “clean”. Putting a pedophile into a position of influence with families with children is just plain stupid, and I pray this church doesn’t regret it.

      I have two children under two, and a wife who worked for Dallas County CPS for 4 years. This question is not an issue of grace, it’s an issue rational thinking.

    • Nick Norelli

      Tom: I’m curious as to how you so compartmentalize yourself that you can answer as a father on the one hand and as a redeemed believer on the other. Such double-mindedness only makes both answers seem disingenuous.

    • Ron

      hmmm That’s a tough question. Obviously, we’re not talking about an unpardonable sin, here. But on the otherhand, the prevailing wisdom is that a sex offender is likely to repeat that behavior. So, my position would be that the man should be brought back into fellowship (assuming ‘fruits worthy of repentance’ are evident), however, I don’t believe I would put him in a position of authority or any position that would bring about any temptation to repeat his offense.

    • John

      Christians need to repudiate the notion that leadership is some kind of human right. Many people are excluded through little or no fault of their own (Titus 1:6). Let alone people who have excluded themselves.

    • Warren

      What I am going to say may come across as too hard or as discounting the power and work of the Holy Spirit. Neither is accurate.

      There is an element missing from this discussion – the mental, emotional, and psychological constitution of someone who is sexually stimulated by pre-pubescent children. There is a physiological difference as well as a psychological difference – and of all of the studies I have read, never have I seen any record of a change taking place. Modification of behavior, yes; underlying sexual desire for children, no.

      I come at this not only as a believer, but as a pastor, a counselor (one who speciallizes in this area), as a father, and as a survivor. In my experienced view, the man is being set up for failure and future victims are as yet unidentified.

    • Ishmael

      Sexual pathology is both a complex and difficult issue but the real risk to society lies in the fact that we are not really sure how to treat it and if the post-treament offender is likely to lapse back into pathological behavior under the right circumstances.

      Does grace cover pedophilia — most likely. Does that mean that we should put a pedophile offender back into a situation requiring regular contact with children? Most defintely not — I suspect that would come under the general topic of putting a stumbling block in the way of our brother/sister.

      We must show a balance that allows for redemption while at the same time protecting the vulnerable. Pray for the person, do all you can in support of their successfully living in the community of believers but respect the fact that they have a weakness in the area of children and don’t expose them to temptation.

    • Dave Z

      It’s essential to consider the nature and extent of the offence. For some with minor or unjust convictions, ministry may be OK, for others, especially repeat offenders, probably not.

      The nature of ministry would also be an issue. For example, would a redeemed, former child molester be able to be involved with something like Campus Crusade, dealing only with people of legal age?

      What if the offence did not involve a child? Would a rapist be eligible for ministry work? Or maybe to be an elder? I know of a church that had a convicted murderer as an elder. Is that different because it was not a sexual offence?

      Personally, I think Paul’s statement about “above reproach” would, in general, eliminate most ministry jobs for most convicted criminals, but again, each situation should be individually addressed.

    • mbaker

      “We must show a balance that allows for redemption while at the same time protecting the vulnerable.”

      I agree with that assessment. And part of protecting the vulnerable is not allowing that person to come into contact with them, as far as can be prevented. If we are going to go so far as to make these folks register as sex offenders, something which follows them wherever they live or work, why put our children at risk in the church, the one place where we want them to feel most protected?

      It’s my personal opinion that these rehabilitated folks could best serve Christianity by talking and working with closely with known sex offenders about how they could keep themselves from falling into that again. Not to have even one more child molested because of it would do a far greater service to the body of Christ than being put into a pulpit.

    • A. M. Mallett

      There are a lot of “no ways” in here. How do the same people feel about a murderer being an Apostle?

    • jntowers

      @ A.M. Mallett – If Jesus Himself came to the world and announced this guy would be the pastor of this church, and Jesus would personally oversee him, don’t you think that would change things a little? I don’t think your comparison is fair or accurate.

      Again, I think we’re missing the point here (see my post #21 – also, I think Warren [#25] and Ishmael [#26] hit the nail on the head).

      From here: “Hourigan said in an interview with CNN in September that wants to minister to others like him “who have been rejected.“ Hourigan said he has learned to avoid situations where he might be tempted.” That’s great… oh wait, he can still be tempted by 11 year old boys? I also find it extremely interesting that he wants to minister to those who have struggled like he has with his sin… oh wait, that’s not what he said, he wants to minister to the “rejected”…

      I post that not to judge this guy, only Christ knows his heart, but rather to prove a point.

      Those of you who are coming on here and challenging those of us who think this is a bad idea, I ask you this – would you allow this guy to be in a position where there’s even a chance that he could be in an influential (and therefore tempting, as he states) situation with your son or daughter? Wouldn’t that be the ultimate showing of grace (along the lines of this church’s actions) on your part? If your answer is yes, then you don’t understand the nature of most pedophiles, and even more importantly, you clearly don’t have a clue as to the damage that one of these incidents can do to a child’s entire life.

      I reiterate again, this is not an issue of grace – God loves this guy, Christ died for him and extends His grace to Him, and I pray that his redemption is true and that he can help others who struggle like him. As a society, and as the body of Christ, we also should extend grace to him and not treat him as an outcast, but only as much as it doesn’t put others (i.e. our children) at risk.

      Micheal – I’m not trying to be rude, so forgive me if my entry comes across that way, but I think this blog topic has made this issue way too “muddy” when it shouldn’t be.

    • A. M. Mallett

      Jesus did not come into the world and announce Paul as His Apostle to each of the churches. Paul struggled with rejection among his own fellow Jews. However, my central and purposeful inquiry still stands. Would the same church that rejects this man whose past life, that old man, is supposedly buried in Christ accept with open arms a man who fervently participated in murdering the saints of God? Christ is either capable of healing the whole man or He is not God at all.
      Now I do not know if that man would lapse into his old ways or not but I do know that my LORD heals every affliction, every disease and has made each of us clean and whole to approach the throne of grace boldly.
      I find it remarkable to observe Christians in this comfortable, antiseptic church cast preliminary judgment on a new creation in Christ. Shall you ostracize the converted prostitute in fear she might lapse into her old ways and bring ruin upon the men of the congregation? You can bet there are women among you who would demand that very thing. What about the former rapist in his past life? Are your women safe around a pastor whom God pulled from such conditions? If we could search the hearts and souls of those around you in that comfortable pew, shock might not give justice to the thoughts you might have of those you think so highly of.
      This notion of pedophiles not being able to find victory in Christ over their heinous sins smacks of a church that has not fully embraced Christ, a church that is not living for the LORD. Does this same church speak the same things about homosexuals, those same things the world would have us deceived of, that homosexuals can never be healed of those sins by Christ?

      I’ll add as a rejoinder. I do not know this particular man’s heart. I do not know if his conversion is sincere. I do not know if he is indeed still a sex offender. If he is, he is such in or out of that church. If he isn’t, you will look into the eyes of Christ and explain yourself, perhaps with that converted Saul not far away.

    • James

      This is a very difficult and sensitive situation which, if not handled properly can divide a congregation. I chaired a committee at our church which developed developed a Youth Abuse Prevention policy. This was done primarily in response to the fact that we have a sex offender in attendance. The policy sets in place screening procedures and guidelines for those who wish to work or volunteer with our youth. A sex offender within our congregation may never hold a position of leadership, work with minors, or even be left alone in the building. This is as much for the offenders protection as it is for anyone else.

    • Ron Wolf

      Let’s see, Jesus forgave and forgot…then there’s something about how can He forgive if least you forgive. Be holy for I am holy…oh yea! If the subject is truly walking the walk, would it not show? If they can hide it well does that mean your pastor is OK? Was he called to the ministry? There is nothing wrong with having a watchful eye. We should be that way with ministers/elders in general anyhow (Keeping a watchful eye)? Are we not called to hold our brothers accountable? Would it be a struggle? Yes! But what’s right and wrong according to the WORD does not change. I guess for those who wouldn’t be able to apply the truth here wouldn’t be able to apply the truth to two men raising a daughter. Is it any less of a sin? Interesting replies though…
      I could forgive Him. I could even respect him leading worship providing there was confirmation for his call. Ordination…possibly if he meets the requirements. Leaving him alone with my children…probably not.
      I have 4 children.

    • Michael L

      Interesting topic !

      Let’s look at some of the objective facts first as I read the original article.
      Original situation
      1) The incident happened in 1993-1994. The gentleman in question was then roughly 26 years old
      2) The victim at the time was 11 years old
      This hardly falls in the category of an 18 year old having a relationship, however inappropriate, with a 16 year old.
      Current situation
      There’s several references that Mr. Hourigan is trying to cope with his past. As in the article “he has learned not to put himself in situations where he might be tempted and to seek counsel when he’s having “emotional problems … so it doesn’t turn into something that it has in the past.”
      From dealing with all kinds of addicts (alcohol, drugs, sex, etc) this is a fundamental part of how they have to live and deal with their bent. Looks like he’s trying.

      So what now ?
      Theologically speaking, the guy can be forgiven. Only God will know the true spirit of his heart. However, it is our role as Christians to support and hold others accountable as well. I personally would support the guy, ask him regularly how he’s doing, ensure I motivate him to keep seeking support groups.
      On the other hand, I think there are certain past sins that would interfere with one taking up a leadership role that involves getting too close to your past. If he wanted to start a ministry supporting other sex offenders. Great ! The best examples for other addicts are those that went through it.
      But one doesn’t put an alcoholic in charge of the liquor cabinet, a gambler in charge of finances, etc. It’s not quite clear from the article whether he’ll be involved in youth music ministry or purely adults, but if it were to involve youth or childrens music programs, no, I would not let any of my four children be in youth choir if that is what he’s directing. And I would have a big challenge to the Church leadership if they put him in a role like that. I don’t think it’s fair to Mr. Hourigan if he were put in a role that would lead to temptation. And it wouldn’t be fair to the body to expose them to that risk.

      In Him

    • Michael L


      I’ll address some of your statements directly, partly because I feel they are a bit accusatory to the rest of this audience.

      Shall you ostracize the converted prostitute in fear she might lapse into her old ways and bring ruin upon the men of the congregation?
      No, but I’m not going to let her do a belly dance at my Men’s retreat either.

      What about the former rapist in his past life?
      I would worry if he was put in charge of the women’s breakfast group

      Does this same church speak the same things about homosexuals, those same things the world would have us deceived of, that homosexuals can never be healed of those sins by Christ?
      Absolutely not ! I know some of them personally. Yet I’m not taking them to a male strip club here in Dallas either.

      You made a very good point:
      I do know that my LORD heals every affliction, every disease and has made each of us clean and whole to approach the throne of grace boldly.
      Jerry made that also very clear in post #4 by quoting 1Cor 6:9-11 . But in the same book in 1Cor 8:9 we read to not be a stumbling block to other by what we do. If nothing else, we should perhaps think about that part and the message this Church is sending out. Is it now OK to be a sex offender ? Is it condoned to be one ? Do we risk sending out that message by putting a person with this past in a leadership position ?

      Do I take a bottle of alcohol when I visit AA meetings ? Do I take a bag of weed when going to NA ? Do I bring a certain type of magazine when I go to SA ? No.. the temptation is too great for those that are still struggling.

      Putting this person in a leadership position over children would be challenging indeed and wouldn’t be a loving thing to do as a Christian brother. If it’s strictly adults, I may be less worried, yet still concerned.

      Hope this clarifies
      In Him

    • Blayne

      While I agree with the vast majority of concerns and insights, I cannot help but wonder if we are still throwing the baby out with the bath water. Let me explain.

      1. There is a lot of talk on dealing with sex offenders in the church, both in leadership positions as well as those in the pews. This is a wise thing to do no doubt. There is nothing wrong whatsoever in wanting to be aware of ones surroundings. But what I have a hard time swallowing in the one size fits all labeling being done. Yes there are some serious offenders who are a genuine threat, but not all who are given the label of “sex offender” are ones to be considered a threat. What is being done in this regards? Are we to say that an 18 year old who had sex with his 15 year old girlfriend is the same as the 40 year old who molested a 9 year old boy? The studies show that the most likely to repeat their offense are the latter, not the former. But I guess it is far easier to chuck the baby with the water.

      2. The easy thing to do say (which I have read at least twice here) is just let someone else handle these people. The not in my backyard policy seems to be far easier than actually getting involved in the life of a sinner saved by grace. Answers like “let them [a sex offender] minister to other sex offenders” sound so noble. But I ask, Why not you!? What about the grace of God and salvation through Christ does a sex offender know than a non-sex offender? Maybe it is easier to just let them be with their “own.” I think if Jesus were on earth today, these offenders would be the ones coming to him and the ones which he would be seen with (forget not the shame of the prostitute in 1 century Palestine, it is liken to that of the sex offender in todays self righteous American culture).

      3. This is not to say that one should not use wisdom and discernment when dealing with such issues. But why does the label sex offender automatically mean threat and without hope for change? Why do we not feel the same when we hear other labels such as murderer, adulterer, divorcee? Scripture has far more to say in regards to these labels than he does with the one at hand.

      4. Again, calling to leadership is not something to be taken lightly. If one has a call, then the Church he ministers at needs to be very much involved in his life in order to confirm or deny such a calling? But if the life lived before conversion disqualifies him for ministry after he is converted, then this would disqualify all expect Jesus himself. Let us not forget this. No one, regardless of his past life, should jump right into ministry the day after his conversion. It takes time to mature and grow in Christ before one can even be considered ready to answer his call, that is if his call is genuine and if he fits the qualifications given in Tim and Tit.

      *Will continue in a following post*

    • Blayne

      *Continued from the above post*

      All of this to say: Let us not become like the world in our understanding of these things. The world says that these kinds of people *cannot* change. We say that all things are new and that the old has passed away. The world would rather condemn them to jail for life, never letting them out. We say, Christ can and will free them from the chains of sin and slavery to live as new creatures. If the world does not want them and the Church does not want them, then to whom and where will they turn?

      Be diligent, Yes! Be wise, Of course! But above all be Christlike and seek to lead such as these into holiness and Christlikeness. If we push these sex offenders into the outskirts of the the Church, never letting them get past their past life and sin but always forcing them to be reminded of the former self, then how can we expect them to grow and be killing sin? Instead, get involved in their lives. Let them know that they are forgiven and that they are new in Christ. They have crucified the old man and now live in the newness of the Spirit of Christ. This will do more good for not only the sex offender’s personal holiness and growth, but it will also do wonders for the body of Christ, the body of which he is a part of.

      Thanks for listening, brothers and sisters in the Lord Jesus Christ.

    • Michael L


      From your comments I deduce that you didn’t seem to read some of the posts and more importantly it doesn’t appear you read the original article either. Besides that, the comments such as But I guess it is far easier to chuck the baby with the water. seem a little accusatory. So allow me to respond:

      1) Not the case here. Read my earlier post or the original article. It is a case of a 26 year old with a 11 year old. Would that qualify as a ” Case with a high risk of recidivism” ?

      2) Even though it is accurate to say that a lot of us can do a lot more to help lost sinners like ourselves, the statement The not in my backyard policy seems to be far easier than actually getting involved in the life of a sinner saved by grace. is once again rather accusatory. You don’t know what most of us do and whether or not we do any ministries out there. From firsthand experience I can assure you that any ex-addict giving a message of redemption is quite powerful to those lost.

      3) Once again, I think I gave some examples with regards to what I would consider appropriate for prostitutes, gamblers, alcoholics, drug addicts, divorcees, etc.. and I can fall in more than one category of those (for all you know)

      4) I can definitely appreciate the call and applaud it ! I would only recommend caution when the call involves getting real close to ones past. For instance, if your Church serves the Lords supper with actual wine and an ex-alcoholic feels he is “called” to prepare the Lords supper each week, purchase the wine, serve it and keep the keys to the cabinet, I would be somewhat concerned as well.

      We say, Christ can and will free them from the chains of sin and slavery to live as new creatures. Amen to that !!

      If the world does not want them and the Church does not want them, then to whom and where will they turn? [….] If we push these sex offenders into the outskirts of the the Church, never letting them get past their past life and sin but always forcing them to be reminded of the former self, then how can we expect them to grow and be killing sin?

      I don’t think anyone here on this blog has said this. I definitely know that was not the message in CMP’s original post. Churches are full of sinners. “Noone is righteous.. not even one”. Romans 3:10

      Overall, I concur with parts of your message, even though they’re besides the point. Even though we’re all redeemed sinners and no sin is too big to be forgiven, I’m cautionary when putting someone close to temptations that he/she has struggled with in the past.

      Hope this helps
      In Him

    • mbaker

      ” Even though we’re all redeemed sinners and no sin is too big to be forgiven, I’m cautionary when putting someone close to temptations that he/she has struggled with in the past.”

      I agree that it probably more wise not to, since one of the cautions that addicts of any kind are given in recovering from their addiction is deliberate avoidance of things which were or still remain triggers.

      There also is quite a big difference in welcoming prodigals back into the fold, which we are commanded to do when they are repentant, and putting them in career positions in the church, which could clearly put innocent others at potential risk again.

      Certainly, we have seen that very scenario play out in horrific detail in the church in the last few years, over over, especially when several pedophile priests, who were moved from one parish to another after committing these lewd acts against minor children, continued to do it until they were caught and exposed.

      So, it’s one thing to give second chances, but quite another to deliberately put the fox back in charge of the henhouse, so to speak, especially when we are talking about the life long and often irreparable damage that the innocent children of such sexual abuse suffer.

      And, certainly the Lord Himself said that it would be worse for anyone doing harm to a child than having a millstone around his neck. While our sins are forgiven, they still carry consequences, like it not, not only for the perpetrator, but for the victim. Sometimes I think we forget to give the same kind of grace to the victims as we do the one who committed the crime, in our over-emphasis nowadays on the rights and the rehabilitation of the perpetrators.

      As a parent of grown children myself, I know that an ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure. To continue to put our children at potential risk from known pedophiles, even with the best of Christian intentions, in my opinion is not adequately extending God’s grace and protection to those innocent ones He has given us that cannot protect themselves.

    • […] a pastor? October 6, 2009 Leave a comment Go to comments My friend Cory posted a link to this discussion going on about a sex offender in Kentucky who has been appointed a to a pastorate. …experts […]

    • Ray D

      I am the father of four sons and the grandfather of one grandson and eight granddaughters. I have been a Christian since the age of 21. Prior to that I was one of the most retched individuals you ever saw. I guess the only sins I have never been guilty of are having sex with children, animals, or other men. I don’t know if my past disqualifies me from posting on this topic or not. I will let each of you decide.
      One of the hardest things for me to understand is the magnitude of God’s grace in my life. When I look at the man I was vs. the man I am, even though I still fall so short, I am amazed at what God has done. Without Him I would probably be dead from overdose or murdered. Yet though Him I truly am a new creature. If there is a limit to God’s ability to transform a man I have yet to find it.If a man is truly redeemed, God can use him in any capacity He chooses.
      My problem is not so much with this man’s past but with his present. He has chosen to attend and be ordained by a church that promotes gay rights. I can overlook the sinful lifestyle prior to coming to Christ provided the transforming power of the Holy Spirit is evident. We need to not only be discerning but open to the transforming power of Holy Spirit.
      If we look at the sins of man before he comes to Christ to determine his qualifications, would it have been such a good idea to let Paul know where to find all the church leaders?

    • Maren

      Not in this case. Minor child, convicted, served time. He should never be allowed to work with children again. This has nothing to do with grace, just common sense. You have to protect the kids.

    • scottidog

      Here’s a thought: the sex offender you know about isn’t nearly as dangerous as the one you don’t know about.

    • Danielle

      The question is this, did the Lord call him? If the Lord ordained him to this position then it is God’s will.

      For who has resisted His will?

      I do not have kids.

    • Mykala

      As someone who grew up with Mark, I know quite a bit about him as a person. His involvement with preaching has more often been about small town power and politics than about any calling from the Lord. On his best day, he was a relentless bully. The incident for which he was convicted was not the only one. It just happened to be the only one for which he was caught. Would he do it again? From what contact I’ve had with him since then, probably if given the opportunity and the very real possibility of not being caught. His deception with the church leadership shows that he is not humbled and repentant. Luckily there are very few children as this is a “street ministry.” all this being said, Jesus is the one who took on our sins. We are redeemed. It is our individual duty to see that we are worthy of that gift. Mark blames his sins on being a victim, he needs must own them instead. I fear that going back to preaching is more s.o.p. that calling and I am concerned for the congregants, even now – five years out.

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