You know it’s not that hard, right?


I don’t always do something stupid, but when I do, it’s usually reading comments on blogs.

Seriously. I’m very thankful for the helpful quality and tone of 99.9 per cent of the comments I receive on this blog. But, dang, you all are the anomaly, I think. That or I’m just reading the wrong websites.


The last time I made the mistake of reading the comments section on a blog, it was on an article talking about some of the latest blunders and buffoonery coming out of Seattle (I can’t remember the site, which may or may not be a good thing). As I read these comments, some thoughtful, some obvious trolling and attempts at gaining some attention for their own blogs, I stumbled upon a statement I never expected to see:

“I don’t believe any pastor needs to be above reproach.”

I… What do I even do with that besides say: “Well, you should, because the Bible tells you so (1 Tim 3:2)?”

The thing that’s funny about this blanket character qualification for a pastor/elder, this whole idea of being above reproach, is, really, it’s not that hard in some ways. I mean, at a basic level, being above reproach could be summed up simply as being a person of good character—you’re the kind of person who, as Thabiti Anyabwile puts it, “no one suspects of wrongdoing and immorality” (Finding Faithful Elders and Deacons, 57).

It doesn’t mean you’re perfect. It doesn’t mean you’re sinless.

But it does mean your character is such that others would be absolutely shocked if you were accused of some wrongdoing or immoral behavior or speech.

It means people would be surprised if you were accused of trolling on a website, swiping from other people’s sermons, only allowing your kids to watch the prequel trilogy, fudging your taxes, sexually harassing your admin assistant…

You know it’s not that hard, right?

When we no longer believe a basic character requirement—one that, at the lowest possible bar, means adhering to “Wheaton’s Law“—is actually a requirement, it’s sad. When we no longer believe it’s attainable, something is dreadfully wrong.

Photo credit: __o__ via photopin cc

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  • Ben Thorp

    Bonus points for quoting Wheaton’s law.

    (Without wanting to start a protracted sub-argument, AFAICT the “latest stuff from Seattle” is actually a rehashing of “stuff that came from Seattle in 2000” and made me wonder whether or not things I did in 2000 would disqualify me from eldership now…..)

    • Aaron Armstrong

      Thanks. Regarding the parenthetical statement, unfortunately, there’s more than just the stuff from 2000. Great question though: do the things we said/did in the past disqualify us in the present? It’s one I’ve been mulling over a great deal as well…

  • James O

    I agree with all but the bit about the prequel trilogy remark, since doing otherwise would just be abuse.
    Thanks Aaron – always enjoy your blog!

  • Michelle Dacus Lesley

    Ok, now on this “only allowing your kids to watch the prequel trilogy” thing– all of my KIDS have seen the whole series of movies, but I, personally, have only seen the prequel trilogy (in theaters when I was a kid). Do you find this shocking enough that it disqualifies me from women’s ministry? Must I force myself to sit through the other movies in order to be considered a person of sound doctrine? Enquiring minds want to know, lol :0)

    • Aaron Armstrong

      You mean… you’ve never seen the original Star Wars movies? *gasp!*

  • Jon Stallings

    Very well said Aaron. We are not perfect but we should strive to hold ourselves to a high standard. (Strive with the help of the Holy Spirit of course)