Should a pastor’s love for his son trump pastoral vows with the Methodist Church?
One of the most difficult issues in ministry is to treat your family as part of the flock and not show preferential treatment. Practicing church discipline and putting God first should be a practice easily done by a credentialed pastor who is trained in administering the word of God with accuracy and authority.
However we are talking about human beings still. Vowing with words is one thing, but doing it with actions is quite another.
The Bible has examples of prophets or kings of God failing to discipline their children which resulted in horrific situations worse than the offense the father failed to discipline.
King David never disciplined his son for the rape of his sister Tamar, and as a result Absalom’s anger resulted in him taking justice into his own hands and slaying his brother.
Eli did not correct his sons from making a mockery of the Temple by having sex with the virgins assigned to the service ministry. Proper sexual expression is nothing new to those ordained to the service of God.
So when United Methodist Church Pastor Frank Schaefer officiated his own son’s same sex wedding, he clearly went against Methodist and Christian doctrine, the church defrocked Schaefer for breaking his pastoral vows. Schaefer was officially defrocked for refusing to turn his credentials following a meeting with the Methodist’s Board of Ordained Ministry.
Schaefer attempted to keep the same sex marriage ceremony a secret, but as stated in the Bible, “your sin will find you out”.
A meeting at the request of Schaefer will convene where a church panel will hear Schaefer’s case that the defrocking was illegal.
“I would like to get my credentials back,” said Schaefer, 52, to the Associated Press earlier this week. “I’m hoping for a ‘re-frocking.'”
It will be a long shot as Schaefer’s argument that the defrocking was wrong will take a mountain of convincing to the Methodist panel who has a conservative standard that is adhered to, particular regarding same sex marriage.
The pastor was officially defrocked by UMC in December, 2013 after he refused to turn over his credentials following a meeting with the Board of Ordained Ministry. He was accused of violating his pastoral vows by performing his son’s marriage to another man at a 2007 ceremony in Massachusetts.
Unfortunately it is not that unique that the pastor would bend the rules to benefit his son. There have been a variety of subjects that have been brought before the governing body of many churches and denominations for ministers failing to properly discipline their children when church doctrine is compromised.