In the life of the church we become well-acquainted with sin (How is that for an encouraging way to start this post?). This is especially true for church leaders and ministers.
For the sinner, we encourage confession and repentance, and for the church, a path toward redemption and reconciliation by way of forgiveness – all of which we see enacted through the practice of baptism. Oftentimes, for the “outsider sinner,” the non-Christian who comes to begin this journey, the church is quick to joyfully accept their confession and welcome them into the body (Daniel Napier and Todd Hall both note the “rush to the water” in their Christian Studies articles HERE and HERE). Though there is typically some disappointment from the congregation when a fellow church member confesses, initial disappointment quickly fades into the same joyful acceptance of this “member sinner.”
When church leaders and ministers confess to sin (especially when the wrongdoing is on our list of “greater sins”), the church’s response has not always been as merciful.