Clerical Character: Reflecting on Ministerial Morality

Stanley Hauerwas

Article Type: Article

Publication Date: 4/1/1986

Issue: The Way of the Christian (Vol. 6, No 2, Spring, 1986)

It may be that the concern to develop a ministerial morality is due to the displeasure of some with the increasing refusal of many clergy to conform to this set of expectations. Many in the ministry find that the hypocrisy—and worse, the self-deception—that such a morality engenders is too hard to live for a lifetime. Better for the clergy and the laity to say what we have known all along-namely, there is no difference between the clergy and anyone else. Some ministers’ marriages will fail, some ministers will be ambitious, some will be less than forgiving, some will even be less than honest, especially when their self-interest is involved, but that does not mean they are disqualified from the ministry. Just as one can still be a good lawyer or doctor, while being less than morally admirable in other aspects of their life, so one can be a minister. What matters is not the kind of persons they are, but whether they can responsibly deliver their professional service.

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