This question got closed as "off-topic" recently. The reason it was closed is because it's a question asking for pastoral advice, and if not that it's probably a duplicate. In any case, if we're going to close questions for that, oughtn't we have a close reason specifically for it?

4 Answers 4


If you have decided that "questions asking for pastoral advice" are outside the scope of this site, then it is [off topic]. You can be more helpful by simply adding a comment "Please talk to your pastor. Such personal questions are not well suited to this site, per our FAQ".

Please, if a member uses this site incorrectly, leave them a thoughtful comment to help. Don't be so quick to toss about close reasons like some form letter stamped "REJECTED" across the bottom. It is much more helpful if you actually talk to them. The close reasons are there only to provide a broad categorization for why questions are closed; not to offer such specific advice.

In the earlier days of Stack Overflow, we used to have a much longer, much more exacting list of close reasons. It became simply too arduous for users to decide which close reason best described the situation, so we've pared back considerably. You really don't want to enumerate a long list of reasons to reject a users question. It's community unfriendly and sends some people off on a crusade looking for posts that run afoul the long forbidden list. That's not what you want here.


Currently "Off Topic" seems to be the best choice (since it indicates something falls outside the scope of this site) with a comment explaining why StackExchange is not an appropriate outlet for that particular need.

Edit: wax_eagle's suggestion of "too localized" also makes a lot of sense, since these questions would always be of a personal nature and the specifics of a case would need to be delved. This should be done in the context of a pastor or other counselor not this site, thus they wouldn't be generally applicable.

  • 4
    actually, too localized may be the best one.
    – wax eagle
    Sep 5, 2011 at 3:49

I do not see how this question linked is asking for pastoral advice. On SEs, you are encouraged to ask questions that you actually, personally have, not just "how many angels can dance on the head of a pin" thought questions.

Though the poster shares a bunch of personal details, he does not ask "help me!"... He asks extremely specific and legitimate Christian belief questions.

How is it fair that I am not aloud into heaven when God was the one who made me homosexual?

In that case, should homosexuals be able to marry and love one another (husband/husband, wife/wife) but be forbidden from sexual conduct?

How can a God who created my body and mind, create a world where I am specifically hated or considered "mentally ill", and/or "not of God".

If someone who wasn't gay asked these same questions, they would be legitimate? If someone was "just askin'" out of morbid curiosity?

So someone who actually has a vested interest in the question can't ask them? And you think that is a positive think that will make this SE more valuable?

There is a huge difference between someone asking for specific pastoral advice, and someone asking about general Christianity questions because they bear upon their specific situation.

I'll be honest, interpreting questions like this as OT is just dumb. Go look at parenting.SE. The highest rated questions there are EXACTLY parallel to questions like this one. https://parenting.stackexchange.com/questions/1776/how-can-i-prevent-my-8-year-old-from-spending-time-with-his-bad-friend

Or heck, like my Tyranny of the Weaker Brother question. It's a point of theology, but it does affect me. Is that asking for "pastoral advice" and should be mod-closed? Because I see zero difference in nature between the two questions.


I think this would be more likely to get implemented if you can come up with a more generic reason that will work on other Stack Exchange sites as well.

I don't think they're particularly fond of making a lot of special exceptions for individual sites, so you should try to justify this as something that would be useful on more sites than this one.

  • 2
    StackOverflow is never going to need a "we are not qualified as a community to offer pastoral care" close reason :) There are a few sites with custom close reasons. It's not hard from a technical point of view, it's just a matter of having to cross-train different communities. However with another religious themed site out there there could be one more usage. Frankly I think the scope of this site and the questions it is likely to field ARE fairly unique and might call for some special measures.
    – Caleb
    Sep 4, 2011 at 20:16

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