With Ted Haggard's drama playing out this last week, I got to thinking about why some pastors fall into scandal and some don't.
In criminology, most theories of crime explain why people become criminals, whether it be due to genetic, environment, or societal reasons. One type of theories, however, take the opposite approach. Social control theories assume that all individuals are prone to crime, and they seek to explain why do some individuals do not engage in crime.
I wonder if discussions of pastoral morality would benefit from type of thinking. Rather than assume that pastors will have no serious moral problems unless there is something "wrong" with them, why not assume that all pastors are headed toward scandal and then ask what can be done to avoid it? This is not an unreasonable assumption when we consider that most pastors are also people (and all have fallen) plus the distinct likelihood of spiritual warfare.
It appears that most churches do little, if anything, to buttress their pastor's morality & then are shocked, disappointed, hurt, etc... when they discover immorality. A change of thinking would have several benefits.
1) It would cast the church as more proactive in and responsible for protecting their pastors. If a pastor falls, it's then a community shortcoming rather than just a degenerate individual.
2) It would point to the need of developing procedures, programs, and evaluations that would monitor and guide pastors.
3) It would take away any stigma of pastors participating in such preventive efforts, since they are applied to all by assumption rather than a few for rehabilitation.
For additional essays on church life: http://www.brewright.com/church/essays.html