Is it possible to restore a pastor who has sinned sexually?

I enjoy listening to the “Ask Pastor John” series from These recordings are each about three to four minutes long, and in them Pastor John Piper answers questions on sundry topics. I thought one recent episode might interesting to share here. Here’s the question that Piper sets himself to answer:

Is it possible to restore a pastor who sinned sexually but who is repentant? Or is such a pastor disqualified because he no longer meets the qualification of being “above reproach”?

According to Piper, the answer to the question is yes. You can hear his explanation by downloading the audio from here or by pressing the play button below.



  • Frank

    I think this discussion is very difficult. Some would believe that just because they repent they should be able to be restored quickly rather than a “season” of repentance in their life to show they are not involved with this sin anymore.

    John Armstrong has a very helpful book, I believe to be the best on the subject that deals with this questions biblically rather than through the lens of psychobabble.

    We need to have clear parameters for dealing with this issue. I am convinced and saddened that there are more than we think in ministry who are struggling with sexual sin.

  • Matthew Staton

    I am unable to listen to the audio at the moment. I think the lists of qualifications are given to indicate the kind of person that is a Godly example, with the emphasis being “above reproach”; they are not intended to be a checklist where this or that failure excludes you for life.

    Agreed with Frank that a quick repentence does not restore the trust lost when someone fails to live above reproach. It may take time. And some may never re-assume their former place. But there is fogiveness and redemption and healing and restoration. There is grace, love, gratitude that one who has been restored is able to express in a new way to those around.

    “Above reproach” does not mean “never sinned.” It might mean “confessed and forsook.” It might mean “I fell but those who were spiritual restored me gently.”

  • Travis Smith

    How did you get the audio player plugin to work? I’ve installed mine. How did you type it into your post?


  • Steve Hayes

    Concerning your headline question, “Is it possible to restore a pastor who has sinned sexually?”, my answer would be “I sure hope so!” I have yet to meet a man, pastor or not, who is free from sexual sin at some level. Are we talking about pastors who sleep around or are addicted to pornography, or are we talking about sin the way Jesus did, the “if you have lust in your heart” kind of sin? Jesus seems to define sexual sin as pretty all encompassing. As a pastor, all I can say is “guilty.” Well, I guess I can also say, “forgiven!”

  • Don Johnson

    One aspect of this sin or any sin that Piper did not discuss is whether the pastor was deceived in doing it or did it deliberately. Perhaps every case of this sin is deliberate, but knowing some details might reveal a case that is not.

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