I think a compelling article by R. Kent Hughes and John H. Armstrong, stating the case for not restoring fallen pastors to the ministry, except in rare cases within a stringent rule, I find convincing scripturally and it seems to be upheld by the tradition of the church. The idea that all one has to do is confess their sin, and the sin is not only forgiven, but gone flies in the face of so much. Restoration as it is called in more evangelical circles involves so much. The adulterer’s spouse and the victim. The families, the church. And not least of all, the adulterer themselves. Not to downplay the messiness and difficulty as well as the time needed to work through everything, restoration to the church should be immediate upon confession and genuine repentance. The issue here is restoration to the ministry.
Psalm 51 is evidence of the need for thorough, deep repentance so that not only does one leave the sin, but the sin leaves them as well. Change of heart and practice needs to take place. We’re not talking about sinless perfection, of course. But we are talking about a course of heart and life when such an act would be considered unthinkable, as the NIV renders it (Ephesians 5:3), when there is not even a hint of sexual immorality.
Maybe not the best read for a weekend, but important. If you are interested, read it in its entirety. And a good complementary article from Jack Hayward, another servant of Christ who is always worth reading.