Last night while reviewing questions, I came across one that, to me, screamed "Pastoral Advice question - this person should be speaking to a Pastor - in person - not a group of strangers on the Internet." I voted to close and left the following comment:

This question falls under the category of "Pastoral Advice". While our natural tendency is to want to help you with this type of question, doing so goes against site guidelines. Put simply, This site is not here to guide you in matters of Truth. The purpose is more academic - to explain what the various teachings are. On this particular question, you're asking something that would be much better answered by a Pastor or Priest. I'd recommend seeking one out to ask in person for this type of counseling.

Another user felt that this wasn't really Pastoral Advice, and made a comment to that effect. In all honesty, the question being asked was answerable, and I agreed with the answer that user made. After thinking about it and re-reading the question, I can see where this user didn't agree on the "Pastoral Advice" label, but I still disagree... Which leads me to this question.

All this made me realize that with all the effort we put into keeping questions and answers non-subjective, one of our primary reasons for closing a question is somewhat subjective. We really don't have a documented definition of what "Pastoral Advice" is.

Where do we draw the line? At what point do we determine that this is something they'd be better off speaking to a Pastor or a Counselor? I know what types of "red flags" I look for, but my ideas aren't gospel here or anywhere, so I'd like to get a community discussion and hopefully a consensus on this.


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