Ranking Sin

Updated: Oct 12


I was searching for something on a particular women's ministry leader and happened upon a blog on this leader's daughter's divorce. The article was saying that a church or ministry leader should have transparency and accountability when their family member, who is involved in their ministry, sins. While overall I agreed with the article and it was very well written, something about it made me uneasy.

The blog pointed out this major women's ministry leader's daughter got divorced because of personality conflict and this is not a biblical reason for divorce. The author was saying the daughter, who worked in the same ministry as her mother, sinned and should publicly address that sin. It went on to say both the daughter and her mother should be transparent about this divorce. The mother should make it clear where she stands on this sin - that she did not condone it. If they do not do these things, they are not qualified to teach God's word to us.

Whoa. That conclusion sort of floored me.

Here are where my thoughts ran.

First of all the sin. We all sin. So there isn't a ministry leader out there that hasn't committed some sin. I've noticed Christians often throw around sayings like "Sin is sin." and "All of us sin and are in need of a Savior." These are true statements. All sin is sin before a holy God. This implies all sin is equal. But is it?

On one hand we say any sin is a sin against God and then we seem to turn around and look at some of the sins others commit and think their sin is so much worse than the sins we commit. There are some sins which have huge consequences to yourself and to those around you. I would say an unbiblical divorce is one of those sins with huge consequences that there is no escaping from.

We rank sins.

I just read there are 125 sins listed in the Bible! What in the world?! And we can't even keep the Ten Commandments. In another place I saw a list of 667 sins! Whoa!

Are there some sins that if a leader commits or their family member involved in their ministry commits that we should make them step down? I'd say so. But which sins are these?

I know a minister who soundly teaches God's word. But in dealing with this man he is abrupt, unkind and condescending. He appears to be full of pride. I have heard people condone his actions with the reason that he is lacking social skills. I don't consider that an excuse for the way he treats people. Is not his pride/ lack of humility a bigger sin than an unbiblical divorce? Well, maybe not a "bigger" sin, but should it make him ineligible to teach God's Word? I don't know.

Honestly, I don't know. However, I do know the Bible has a lot more to say about pride and humility than it does about divorce. The Bible does say God hates divorce (Malachi 2:16.) The Bible gives two reasons when divorce is justified. However, the Bible has scores of verses and passages on being humble and not being prideful. Pride is one of those deadly sins.

Moses was not allowed to enter the Promised Land because he disobeyed God by striking the rock rather than speaking to the rock. (Numbers 20:8-12.) It didn't seem like such a big sin to me. God's holiness is serious and our obedience to Him should be taken very seriously.

I also get there should be accountability and transparency in our churches and ministries. Leaders of a church and ministry are held to a higher standard. They should be.

Titus 1:7 tells us that "the overseer must be above reproach as God's steward, ... " An overseer is an elder, pastor or "shepherd" and they should have impeccable character. We all know of fallen church leaders and their actions break our heart and do great harm to the gospel message.

But how do we not know this woman in her mother's ministry didn't deal with her sin? Does accountability have to be done in a public setting or is it acceptable in private in the confines of her ministry?

Can we give people grace on some sins? Or should we set a line in the sand?

Who keeps this list of "big" sins that make us ineligible for ministry? I'd like to see it.

The author said, "Readers who follow Bible teachers must assess their biblical credibility." While I wholeheartedly agree with this statement and I did agree with the gist of the article that divorce by a ministry leader should be addressed; I am having a rough time finding that line in the sand. What sins are the ones which would disqualify someone from a Christian leadership role?

My point is we all rank sin. We do whether we say we do or not. And I think that is what bothers me. Because what you deem really bad is not necessarily what I think is. I can tell you right now that I think being stingy and ungenerous is just a big of a sin as an unbiblical divorce is. Maybe I'm wrong. I haven't seen that ranking of sins yet. Joking. Well sort of and sort of not.

Once we put on this Christian identity, the secular world expects us to be perfect. Because we aren't going to be perfect here on earth (for all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God, Romans 3:23), and because we are bound to disappoint them, they think we are hypocrites. At the same time we should hold each other accountable. We should represent Christ honorably. To what degree should we hold each other accountable though? Are we going to point out every little speck in everyone else's eye and ignore the log in ours? I tend to think we should concentrate on our own walk with God. I'd rather give others grace and hope they give it to me.

This all got me thinking. Who am I accountable to? What sins would disqualify me from doing this website?

Would it be something like drinking alcohol? Or on a rare occasion a swear word popping out of my mouth? Snapping at my husband? Or would it have to be "major" like an unbiblical divorce or adultery? (Both of which I have not done btw!)

Let me just tell you so we have it documented - I am very, very, very much a flawed individual. I am not perfect. I am a sinner. At times I struggle on this faith journey. Sadly, I get way off track on occasion. I don't claim to be Super Christian. I don't claim to know it all. I have tried to be genuine and honest with you. I have tried to check and double check my facts. I know according to James 3:1 that teachers incur a stricter judgment. That scares the bejeebies out of me. I try to keep that in mind at all times.

All I know is I love the Lord. I do. And I'm trying to love my neighbor. I am trying. Sometimes I do and other times I fail miserably at that one. God has taught me so much in the past couple decades about the Bible and I believe He wants me to share what I've learned. I'm just trying to do that and walk with Christ through this life.

But just in case you are wondering, just in case there is any confusion, just to set the record straight; I am a sinner in need of a Savior every day of my life. I most likely fall terribly below your yardstick of how a Christian should act and speak. But remember, the Potter is still sculpting.

Maybe give us sinners a break?

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© 2015 by Carolyn Hurst