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Morality and the Clergy....continued


A clergyman must be particularly careful in his relationships with the opposite sex or indeed the same sex if he finds himself that way inclined. Friendships can begin quite innocently, and no one should arouse suspicions without good reason. The minister will most likely have a secretary, deaconesses and other Church workers around him. There will also be those whom he visits in their homes, those he counsels privately, and even those for whom he prays in a laying-on-of-hands ceremony(3).

People seek the help of a minister because he is respected, and therefore show him deference, so with them he must not abuse his authority nor overstep the bounds of propriety. From case histories, a particularly dangerous situation has arisen in large Churches where the minister has a personal assistant. It is natural when two people are working together for long periods of time that an inevitable closeness develops, and in visitation also the clergyman should know when it is not discreet to call on some people when they are alone.

Moral failure can sometimes be the result of inadequacies in the marriage and when it does break up there may be reasons on both sides; for instance there was a lady who cheated on her husband. He was a professional man whose work took him around the world, and consequently he lost interest in his home. His wife felt neglected and unwanted, consequently her loneliness became her temptation.

Much of a clergyman's work is away from his home, and this may cause some irritability on the domestic scene. His wife may frustratingly wonder at times whether her husband married her or the Church! Much patience and understanding is therefore required in these situations, because there are pressures on such marriages that the ordinary Church members know little about.

In recent years some congregations have been encouraged to show more friendliness to each other than has been usual in Church services, and this has resulted in what could be described as 'touchy-feely' behaviour. It goes beyond the traditional handshake greeting to hugging, embracing and kissing. The intention is to promote Christian fellowship in a more tangible way for the Family of God, and doubtless for the majority of participants it is very meaningful for them; but there are some dangers. First, it is embarrassing when it involves those who are not used to it, or those who do not appreciate it. Neither should it be overlooked that for those who have a low sexual threshold, the practice may shift from the spiritual (agape4) to the sensual (eros5).

Index to the topic
Morality and the Clergy
Some Safeguards
The Crux of the Matter
Marriage is honourable
Guidelines and Helps

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