Help Others Restore Integrity
Help Others Restore Integrity 2 minute read

When Pastors Look at Porn . . .

Last Updated: April 22, 2015

People are watching more porn now than ever before . . . even pastors and ministers. How are denominations and church organizations dealing with this issue?

The Assemblies of God actually has a formal list of guidelines in place for helping ministers who have a “moral failure involving pornography.” I commend AOG for putting careful thought into these guidelines. (These guidelines were published in the Fall 2005 issue of Enrichment Journal.)

The guidelines of discipline, first, recognize that there are varying stages of involvement with pornography.

1. The Curiosity Stage – The minister is personally searching for pornography because of the veil of mystery or confusion that surrounds it.
2. The Experimental Stage – The minister is looking for pornography to see whether something is stimulating or compelling.
3. The Regular Usage Stage – The minister is using pornography at set times, under certain conditions, or within certain contexts.
4. The Habitual Stage – The minister is regularly using pornography to a point where a habit has been formed.
5. The Addicted Stage – The minister is compulsively using pornography.

For each stage there is a rehabilitation process that the Assemblies of God recommends.

1. The Curiosity Stage – There is no suspension at this stage, but the minster needs to go through a minimum of 3 months of approved pastoral counseling.
2. The Experimental Stage – There is no suspension at this stage either, but the minister needs to go through a minimum of 6 months of approved professional counseling.
3. The Regular Usage Stage – In this stage, the minister is given a minimum 3-month suspension (contingent upon and concurrent with sustained abstinence), and must go through a minimum of 1 year of rehabilitation with approved professional counseling.
4. The Habitual Stage – In this stage, the minister is given a minimum 6-month suspension, and must go through a minimum of 1 year of rehabilitation with approved professional counseling.
5. The Addicted Stage – In this final stage, the minister is given a minimum 1-year suspension, and must go through a minimum of 2 years of rehabilitation with approved professional counseling.

What do you think of these guidelines?

Is it wise for a church to have guidelines when it comes to the moral failure of its leaders?

Some might contest that guidelines such as these only keep a minister trapped in his sin: in the shame of his addiction and in the knowledge of what disciplinary actions await him, he might try even harder to conceal his sin. Wouldn’t it be better just to have an open invitation to ministers to come forward with their confessions with no threat of discipline?

Personally, I think this would be a very unwise decision. For one, promising no discipline is anti-biblical. All church members, even ministers, should be included in the informal and formal disciplinary life of the church.

Second, these guidelines are built to provide hope, not fear. In a denomination where a minister has a porn problem, if he doesn’t have guidelines like this, he cannot predict what discipline awaits him. Will they send him to counseling? Will they kick him out of his church? If they do, will he ever have a chance of returning to the ministry? In a church without guidelines, the minister may leave his sin unconfessed out of fear.

With guidelines like these in place, he knows that his denomination is taking a firm stance against pornography and offering help and healing to the sexually broken minister.

Any thoughts?

  1. CS

    Concerning pastors caught in sin:
    I don’t think guidelines would ever ‘trap’ someone into staying in their own personal sin. I believe as mentioned that guidelines provide a safety net for the pastor, so that he can confess his sin and know that there is not judgement but discipline. I think it would be best to confess his sin to the church as a whole, which would give the congregation the blessing of coming alongside him to minister.

    While I would sympathize with the pastor and understand that discipline is never good at the moment, I would sympathize more with the church. I as a church member would initially feel anger at the pastor. The pastor is there to equip the saints, and they are not being equipped when he is inviting sin and selfishness into his own life. We tend to be sympathetic to the wrong people. While its true that we come along side each other with open, forgiving arms and love, we absolutely must call the sin what it is, a vile, wicked, selfish, lustful habit that brings destruction to families and breaks unity in the church.

    It isn’t ‘brave’ to admit your sin to other Christians, its commanded. I do not understand why we tread so lightly around sin these days. Call it what it is, call it wicked, call it filthy, call it sick, then offer forgiveness. We need not worry as Christians about how someone receives discipline, we only worry that our words are not our own, that we are led by the Holy Spirit, that we practice forgiveness and bear each others burdens. We can not let our fear that they will keep the sin to themselves taint the truth of the Bible–they should be above reproach. Biblical. Confess your sins to one another… Biblical. Treat him as you would treat your own father–Biblical.

    What would we think of a pastor who invited several naked young women over while he was alone? The church would be appalled, I hope. They would know it is a sin, they would be sad and would want healing to take place, but they wouldn’t tolerate it. We should have the same outrage over pornography. Those emotions (outrage, anger, hurt) are there for a reason–they are God-given. Anger produces change. The church should feel some deep emotion over this, otherwise it is apathy and the church is already dead.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

Related in Help Others Restore Integrity

Editor's Picks

A woman looking for resources in the library.

Help Others Restore Integrity

The Best Porn Addiction Resources in 2024

When you tackle a problem as serious as porn addiction, you want…

7 minute read

Read Post

Editor's Picks

Image of Pastor Matt Chandler.

Help Others Restore Integrity

Matt Chandler on Accountability and Stepping Away From Ministry

The Covenant Eyes Podcast team recently sat down with Matt Chandler, pastor…

4 minute read

Read Post

Editor's Picks

A nativity scene.

Help Others Restore Integrity

5 Holiday Messages for Your Parish Bulletin

We all have our holiday traditions. Whether it’s decorating the tree, making…

6 minute read

Read Post

Editor's Picks

An empty church sanctuary.

Help Others Restore Integrity

How Porn Affects Church Attendance

As time goes on, it seems like more and more Christians are…

6 minute read

Read Post

Editor's Picks

Covenant Eyes podcast team in studio with Allen Parr.

Help Others Restore Integrity

Unmasking Spiritual Deception: A Conversation With Pastor Allen Parr

In a world filled with spiritual complexities and theological debates, finding the…

3 minute read

Read Post

Editor's Picks

Black and white photo of an empty podium.

Help Others Restore Integrity

Porn’s Devastating Impact on Christian Leadership

In 2021, Barna found that 38% of pastors had thought about quitting…

4 minute read

Read Post

Related in Help Others Restore Integrity

A woman looking for resources in the library.

Help Others Restore Integrity

The Best Porn Addiction Resources in 2024

When you tackle a problem as serious as porn addiction, you want…

When you tackle a problem as serious as porn addiction, you want to make sure you have the best resources available. Thankfully, it’s no longer difficult to find plenty of offline and online help. Still,…

7 minute read

0 comments

Image of Pastor Matt Chandler.

Help Others Restore Integrity

Matt Chandler on Accountability and Stepping Away From Ministry

The Covenant Eyes Podcast team recently sat down with Matt Chandler, pastor…

The Covenant Eyes Podcast team recently sat down with Matt Chandler, pastor of The Village Church and president of Acts 29. They talked with Pastor Matt about his recent leave of absence from ministry, what…

4 minute read

0 comments

A nativity scene.

Help Others Restore Integrity

5 Holiday Messages for Your Parish Bulletin

We all have our holiday traditions. Whether it’s decorating the tree, making…

We all have our holiday traditions. Whether it’s decorating the tree, making cookies, setting up our crèche scene, or hosting festive gatherings, our celebrating is a welcome time! But gift buying, family gatherings, and extra cooking…

6 minute read

0 comments

An empty church sanctuary.

Help Others Restore Integrity

How Porn Affects Church Attendance

As time goes on, it seems like more and more Christians are…

As time goes on, it seems like more and more Christians are watching porn. The average pew-sitter today is likely to have struggled with pornography at some point. And this struggle is also likely to…

6 minute read

0 comments

Covenant Eyes podcast team in studio with Allen Parr.

Help Others Restore Integrity

Unmasking Spiritual Deception: A Conversation With Pastor Allen Parr

In a world filled with spiritual complexities and theological debates, finding the…

In a world filled with spiritual complexities and theological debates, finding the true path to spiritual enlightenment can be daunting. Misleading doctrines and false teachings often lurk in the shadows, leading believers astray. To shed…

3 minute read

0 comments

Black and white photo of an empty podium.

Help Others Restore Integrity

Porn’s Devastating Impact on Christian Leadership

In 2021, Barna found that 38% of pastors had thought about quitting…

In 2021, Barna found that 38% of pastors had thought about quitting the ministry. Certainly, the difficulty of leading a church in the COVID era was a major factor in these results. The overall trends…

4 minute read

0 comments