Another pastor has resigned in the wake of scandal: Paul Barnes, pastor of a large church in Denver, resigned this weekend after admitting to sexual sin:
Now, the 54-year-old Barnes joins Haggard as a fallen evangelical minister who preached that homosexuality was a sin but grappled with a hidden life.
I have struggled with homosexuality since I was a 5-year-old boy," Barnes said in the 32- minute video, which church leaders permitted The Denver Post to view. "... I can't tell you the number of nights I have cried myself to sleep, begging God to take this away."
See also a follow-up article with more details about the situation and what the future holds.
I don't particularly enjoy dwelling on scandals like this, and I don't have much to say that wasn't said during our discussions of the Haggard scandal a month or two ago. But given the recent Ted Haggard situation it's hard not to wonder if these events are part of a larger trend. The NYT has an interesting piece today reflecting on the Haggard and Barnes scandals in the context of the rising tension between gay evangelicals and the Christian church.
Here are a few initial thoughts to consider:
- Does the evangelical church's attitude toward homosexual sin make it more difficult for people (especially our church leaders) to "come clean" about it?
- Everybody sins, and nobody expects church leaders to be perfect. But how do major leaders, who are subject to plenty of public scrutiny as they do their ministry work, manage to live secret lives like this for so long without being found out? Is the church naively missing clues? Are people deliberately choosing to look the other way? Or are compromised leaders just really good at keeping their secrets?
- What keeps a person in a ministry leadership person when, by his own admission, he realizes he has been seriously morally compromised?
- Are the Haggard and Barnes scandals just the tip of the iceberg? Or is it a coincidence that these two leaders were "outed" within months of each other?
- What is your church doing to provide accountability for its leadership? Is your church environment such that a compromised leader is more likely to confess and seek out help of his own accord... or keep it a secret until they're caught?
What do you think?