I have been feeling disappointed. I recently learned that a pastor whom I loved and respected did not live up to his responsibilities as a pastor. In fact, he stumbled in a big way.
The Bible tells us that, as Christians, we are not to let fornication even once be named among us. That doesn't mean that just pastors are supposed to keep themselves pure. It is a responsibility for ALL Christians. If all Christians are supposed to refrain from illicit sex, then pastors surely should be an example to the rest of us.
Some will contend that sin is just sin, that it is all the same to God. Well, those people don't know the Bible very well. When the Bible says that, if we have sinned in one point, we have broken the whole Law, it is not saying that stealing a stamp from your boss is as bad as going out and murdering someone. It is saying that sin is defiling, even in small amounts. The Bible does differentiate between various sins. Some are called an "abomination" and were punishable by death, according to the Laws of Moses.
No reasonable person expects a pastor to be absolutely perfect. We understand that a pastor might snap at his wife, that he might cater to a certain extent to people who donate substantial sums of money in the offering and not give heed to words of wisdom from those who don't make him happy in that regard, that he might be overbearing and manipulative sometimes, though, hopefully, that is not the normal way he operates. Pastors are human and don't always act like a Christian ought to act.
If a man (or a woman) is a pastor, or aspires to be one, there are certain things that they should NEVER do, and committing adultery is high on that list. If a pastor does fall into sin, who can despise him for it? We are all tempted with various things, and none of us passes ALL the tests. Also, pastors are subjected to a lot of temptation. Sometimes evil women infiltrate a church deliberately to cause the pastor to fall.
When a pastor falls into such a serious temptation, one that the Bible says should not be named even once among any of us, he should take some time off to get his relationship with the Lord straightened out. How can he lead people properly, if he doesn't set a good example for them?
The pastor I am speaking of was not one who was set up to fall; he was a predator. I have been to a lot of churches in my 40+ years as a Christian, so there are a lot of candidates of who this pastor could be. He was a man who blessed me as a teacher and a counsellor. He never made any moves on me, so I did not suspect him, though he considered me an attractive woman. I think he knew that I would blow the whistle on him, if he tried anything.
At the time that I attended that church, I knew that the pastor had erred with a married woman in the church, but I thought it was only one affair and that he had been corrected by his peers. His wife seemed to have forgiven him and was supportive of his ministry. God had forgiven King David for adultery, so I considered it something that everyone should put behind them.
Years later, I learned that he had not had just one affair, but several. The affairs were with married women, but he might have hit on some single women, also. If this man had only his looks to trade on, he wouldn't have attracted any attention from beautiful women who could have a lot of choices in bed partners, for he was always a homely man, even when he was younger. His position as a pastor, though, gave him a position of authority, which is attractive to women who feel powerless, and it also gave him an inroad into hearts. Women confided in him, as their pastor; he provided sympathy and support. He gained their trust.
I doubt that he set out from the start to seduce them, but he found these ladies attractive, and behind the closed door of his office, there was opportunity to make moves on them. Might it have started with taking their hand to pray with them, but, instead of praying, compelling eyes looked into theirs as he made a declaration of "love"? Those eyes were his one feature that arrested my attention from time to time. I can see how they could have a hypnotic quality, especially if a seducing spirit was operating through this man.
There was a woman in that church who told me in disgust, one time, that the pastor had a demon of lust. I thought, "Are you kidding?" As I said, my pastor never went after me, so I didn't give any credence to her statement. I thought that she just had a bad attitude towards him because he was her boss. She was a very attractive lady, so I am guessing that she had been a target for his attentions, seeing as he had a lot of opportunity to hit on her during the week, when others were not around.
After my friend left the church, she became involved in an affair. I was deeply disappointed over that, but I still liked her and spoke with her, of course. The information that my pastor did indeed have a problem with lust puts my friend's situation in an entirely different light. It must have been really disheartening for her to see her pastor set such a bad example, and she probably figured that, if he didn't behave himself, and he was a pastor, why should she?
Another lady who worked for the church ended up living with a male room–mate, and then she lived common–law with a man. Was it because she knew that the pastor had affairs, not just once, but several times, that she didn't regard the sin of fornication as seriously as she ought to have?
Christians have a lot of influence on each other, especially if they are highly regarded. As a young girl, when I saw another Christian girl, who was involved in music ministry, wearing a bikini on the beach, I figured it must be okay for Christian girls to wear bikinis. I also excused myself in other matters, because I knew Christians who did those things. It takes strong determination to do what is right, particularly when other Christians think you're being too serious about the Bible.
Earlier this month, I was reading some interesting posts on a facebook page that is maintained by a young man who considers himself a really radical, sold–out–for–God, Bible teacher. He has quite a following. But in one of the articles I was reading, he expressed his surprise over a divine revelation in an uncouth manner, pairing the word "holy" with a crude word for feces. Those two words do not belong together. I said so, choosing to do it on his thread because of the bad example he was setting. His readers needed to know that the Bible tells us to not use speech that can be condemned, and I quoted that verse.
He came back on me saying that he didn't agree with my interpretation of that verse (though it is very plain), and that my ideas of what I consider swearing are outmoded and old fashioned. I don't think so, but how can he justify putting the word holy with the word for defecation? The Bible says in the Laws of Moses that men were supposed to carry a paddle with them, to bury their dung, because the Lord is holy, and there should not be anything unclean in the camp.
I pointed out again to this young man what the Bible says about profanity, but he mocked me and unfriended me, so that I could not make any further replies. And the thread went haywire, with his friends laughing about how he had offended someone's religious spirit once again. One wag posted a cartoon of Robin saying the expression that the teacher had used, and Batman slapping him across the face, calling him a blasphemer. In addition to the teacher remarking that he loved the cartoon, it got nine other "likes." Disgusting. He sure behaved like a twit, and he is leading others astray.
The most heartbreaking results of my pastor's sin involved a woman who was involved in ministry in the church. She was a really sweet lady, married to a kind, gentle man. I cannot imagine this precious, warm–hearted lady making any attempt to seduce our pastor, but I can understand her caving in to an authority figure telling her passionately that he couldn't stop thinking of her. What middle–aged woman with fading beauty wouldn't want to be told that she is desirable, especially if she believes that the man sincerely means it? To be thought of as exciting, instead of just a comfortable, dependable person to be with?
That lady paid dearly for her indiscretion. She paid for it with her health. Her sweet husband forgave her and stood by her, but she didn't get over her shame. She developed a debilitating disease that she sought healing for, but her deep sense of unworthiness prevented her from receiving her healing. She died before her time, and her husband likely died before his time, too, of illness. I suspect that the stress he had to deal with upon discovering that his pastor had been having an affair with his wife undermined his health. I learned these things from a friend whom this lady confided in and made her promise to tell nobody, until after her death.
How's that for the repercussions of a pastor's sin? He didn't just defile a woman with his lust; he also sent her and her husband to early graves because he used his position to gain access to what would probably have otherwise be denied him.
I feel angry. I feel betrayed. I looked up to that man, and he was destroying lives behind closed doors. He dressed well, he had a reputation for encouraging excellence, he laid out rules and expected people to obey them, he dismissed people who did not submit to his authority, but he didn't have any right to be a pastor. A pastor is supposed to be a husband of only one wife. If it's a rule for an elder, it's a rule for the pastor. He isn't supposed to have a harem of unofficial wives.
I feel betrayed also by the people who worked closely with him and knew of his affairs, his associate pastors, and other pastors or apostles whom he was supposed to be accountable to. These indiscretions were kept hidden from the congregation. Perhaps it was done out of consideration for the women he had affairs with and their husbands, but it was also probably done to maintain the status quo.
The least he should have done is voluntarily resigned and let someone who was a better example take his place. Instead, these people let him retain his position, though he had affairs over and over. I sure hope that there was a point at which he stopped, due to conviction for his sins, not because he was getting too old and didn't have the energy for it anymore.
I think that the pastor's wife is also responsible for concealing his affairs. I understand that it is devastating to a woman to learn that her husband is fooling around on her, and that leaving him entails big changes in her life. Her income will be reduced; if there are children still in the home, she will probably have to raise them without his help. Also, as a pastor's wife, she will lose position and prestige. But, nonetheless, she has a responsibility towards the other families in the church to warn them that their pastor is a predator.
I can understand this woman maintaining silence after only one affair. At that point, she could reason that it was out of character and likely to not happen again. When it happened the second time, though, that was an indication that her husband didn't mean it when he said he was sorry. Also, that he needs some help, and to spend some time alone with God, instead of being burdened with the busy schedule of a pastor and the demands made of him for spiritual guidance.
In retrospect, I look back on some things that happened that make more sense to me now. This pastor's wife spoke to me one time, asking me to not spin in front of her when I dance, as it made her feel dizzy and ill. I thought, "She must be jealous of me." The reason why was because I cannot spin, unless I am empowered by the Holy Ghost, as normally I get motion sickness. When I took long car trips with my family, I was the kid who always threw up from motion sickness. Three pivots would make me feel dizzy and nauseous, if God wasn't enabling me, by faith, to do that spinning.
So, I knew that it was something negative that was going on inside of the pastor's wife when she complained about my spinning. She is the only person who has ever told me that they feel dizzy when I spin. In my own experience, even with a tendency towards motion sickness, and even if the person spinning is simply a ballerina or a figure skater, not performing by the power of the Holy Ghost, it never makes me feel dizzy. I always admire that kind of dance move and find it fascinating to watch.
I mentioned this incident to a friend, and she explained that this woman's husband had given her a lot of reason to be jealous of other women. Yes, it must have been disheartening for her to know that her husband was having affairs with women in the church, and when she saw an attractive woman, she was likely to wonder if he would go after her eventually.
For the most part, this pastor's wife was a really nice woman, regardless that she didn't warn the rest of the church about her husband's prediliction for affairs, but there was another incident that bothered me. I was struggling with fantasizing about men. Not men whom I knew. I read a lot of romance novels, not the seedy kind, because it is hard to be single sometimes, especially because I have a romantic disposition. I would go for long periods of time without reading those books, but then I would get into them, and read them one after another, a book a day, sometimes three books a day, if they were normal sized paperbacks and I wasn't working that day. I really don't have time to read that stuff, because there are other things that God wants me to do with my time, and He has better uses for my imagination, so I was stumbling there.
Reading those stories would eventually lead to fantasizing my own made up stories in my head. This was a weakness that started when I was a little girl, when I couldn't sleep and I was bored. My fantasies were always preposterous, and they still are, actually, when I slip into that mode. I was always dazzling beautiful, fabulously intelligent and learned, athletic, wealthy, and very courageous and daring. The female heroine in my stories may not know every language in the world, like she used to when I was a little girl, but she knows a lot of them. In reality, I only know how to speak English. I am good at remembering roots words for my own language, but I've always found it hard to learn any other language.
Of course, this heroine was always greatly admired by men, AND she was able to get the one she wanted, who always was handsome, athletic, confident, brave, daring, clever, and generous. If I ever did meet a man who lived up to those fantasies, it would creep me out. I would think that he was a fake because no man could be as good as those fantasies.
Hollywood supplied the faces of the men I fantasized about. Watching movies is a pitfall for me, too, because it triggers fantasies. These bouts of fantasizing would continue for days and then start to get out of hand. The girl in the fantasies didn't engage in anything sexual, until after the hero married her, but I really shouldn't be thinking about stuff like that, unless I am married to an actual person who I can do those things with.
The Bible says that we are supposed to love God with all our strength, with all our heart, and with all our MIND. I wasn't being faithful to God in my mind, and I got desperate enough to share such a personal weakness with my pastor's wife, asking her to pray for me. Her answer surprised me. She wondered why I thought that fantasizing about those things was a problem. Well, you know what? Her husband's fantasizing led to infidelity, so I guess it is a problem to not guard one's thoughts. It could be that, because she stayed with him when she knew he was messing around on her, her one flesh relationship with him imparted some of his weaknesses to her. Or maybe she fantasized herself because, as I said, her husband was not a physically attractive man. Anyway, she prayed for me because I insisted on it.
Even after all these years, I still struggle with a weakness for watching movies on YouTube, reading romances, and fantasizing. I don't do it all the time. I've gone long periods of time without indulging in it, but then suddenly wham! There I am, committing this spiritual kind of adultery again, so I would really appreciate it if any of my fellow Christians, if you are reading this article, would pray for me.
Don't email me and try to give me advice, please. I don't need it. I know plenty of stuff about the topic of lust and how to avoid it, and I have dissected myself to pieces, trying to figure out what my problem is. I can't get rid of my Internet connection because I need it for work and for ministry. I just need prayer, possibly some deep inner healing, along with the gift of repentance.
When you've been a Christian as long as I have, you see a lot of stupid stuff going on with Christian leaders. There is manipulation to get people to give bigger donations, there is pride and vanity, dishonesty, pastors and their wives putting on a good front for the public, but are bitter enemies behind closed doors, reports of many pastors being addicted to porn, bullying to get people to conform and submit, and so on. Many of these pastors expect people to respect them and obey them without question, as if they can do no wrong. Of course, no pastor is perfect, and any of them might fall into these errors sometimes, and most pastors do a lot of good, in spite of their failings.
I feel cynical about pastors more than ever, now that I know that my former pastor had multiple affairs. I feel annoyed because that pastor fooled me into thinking that he was someone pretty special, but he was a fraud. He had me jumping through hoops, studying to show myself approved. Prophecies had to be submitted to a leader first before they could be delivered to the congregation, but that is not how the early Church handled it. The Apostles allowed spontaneity, directed by the Holy Ghost. This rule was yet another symptom of the unhealthy spiritual leadership of a controlling pastor.
Yes, I feel cynical, but I am not ungrateful for the good that God has blessed me with through attending church, including that church. My pastor taught error about some things, but he also taught some really good things that have been a great blessing in my life. He also was helpful to me in many other ways. We can't give up on church just because pastors behave like twits sometimes. If it gets really toxic, then we need to find another church, but otherwise, we should stay at a church for as long as God tells us to bear with it, and try to be a blessing there.
It has been many years since I stopped calling pastors by titles, much to the irritation of some, but in accordance with what Jesus said in Matthew 23:8 – 12. I have written about this in my article on RELIGIOUS TITLES. I admire the work that pastors and others ministers do to build the Kingdom of God, but there are some who seem intent on building their own kingdom, and these seem to be the ones whom it irks most to be called only by their first names.
If a pastor truly is my brother or sister, as recorded in the book of Matthew, then it should not irk them for me to call them by their first name, just like in an earthly family. Good things for God can be done without all that gushing nonsense. Let's just stop the farce, okay? We can model respect in other ways, in ways that are important, without playing into a system of control.
The Bible says that we are supposed to submit one to another. That means we are to cooperate with each other in doing God's work. It includes the leader knowing when God has inspired and equipped someone else on their team in a certain way and letting them exercise their gift. I've been on one man's team to spread his vision of seeing the Body of Christ pray for government leaders, and he never seemed bothered that I called him by his first name, though he was in his nineties, nor did his wife, who was 26 years older than me. Together, we got things done, without the prancing, and they were thankful for the gifts that I brought to the team.
Now more than ever, I feel disinclined to call a man or woman "pastor," when I think of those who do not live up to the name. Only Jesus really deserves the title. He is the One who will never disappoint us, the One whom we can thoroughly trust, the One who is an unfailing good example, the only One whom ALL His teaching is correct.
A person may occupy the position of pastor, they may have taken courses and obtained a degree that entitles them, in their own minds, at least, to preface their name with Pastor, Reverend, or Doctor, but they don't honour the words of our Lord Jesus Christ in Matthew 23 when they do that. It isn't Bible knowledge or the the title that goes with it that gives people credibility. Even the devil knows the Bible and quotes it fluently. It is consistently obeying the Lord Jesus that gives people credibility, and one thing is plain – He never endorses fornication or adultery.
So, give us a break, pastors. You may never have cheated on your wife, either before you became a pastor or afterwards, but maybe some day, you might, if you get careless about maintaining your relationship with the Lord. And if that day comes, spare the rest of us from feeling like fools for having thought more highly of you than we ought to have.
When life is over and the records are read, if we find out that you truly were a faithful pastor, we will kiss your hands for having been such an exemplary person. In the meantime, we will try to appreciate you and cooperate with you the best we can, considering the possibility that you might betray us somewhere down the line. Allow us to be wary, given how often leaders have been exposed as unworthy of our trust.
Nobody in entitled to be trusted just because of their position. A position is not always proof that one deserves it. It may be that the person had connections with others who were empowered to give them that position. It may have been given to them because they licked enough boots; not because they really had the character that is required of them.
No Christian, in any position, is entitled to be trusted just because they say that they are a Christian. They may truly be a Christian, but perhaps they aren't very mature as a Christian, and then there are those who pretend they are Christians because of advantages it gives them among Christians. Trust has to be earned. If people say, "Trust me," that is when I am least inclined to trust them. Controllers expect to be trusted, without proving that they can be trusted. They try to make people feel guilty and ashamed of not trusting them, even if they have only just met them.
I know a lady who, to my face, expressed doubts as to whether I am a genuine Christian or not. She is not very bright when it comes to book learning, but she is a really sweet and lovely person. I had been talking to her about things that I know that go on behind the scenes in government, because I read a lot and I think I am pretty good at sifting through reports and knowing what is probably true and which parts are disinformation. The information I shared wasn't things that she felt comfortable thinking about. She wondered if I was a genius who lived on the edge of madness.
Well, I'm not a genius. I know that much. But to someone who doesn't read books very often, my voracious appetite for information and the ability to retain a lot of it made it seem to this simple child of nature that I had a towering intellect. She wondered if it was going to lead me astray, if I was going to start a cult. Ha ha! Like I would want to! It's enough of a challenge for me to cope with my own life, never mind make myself responsible for telling a mob of other people what to do. Cult leaders try to replace the Holy Spirit in people's lives.
I was quite astounded that she compared me to some guy she knew of who was a cult leader, simply because he is intelligent and I am intelligent, too, and know some of the things about the government that he apparently rants about. I turned to her and asked, "Do you think that I am a real Christian?" She replied, "I don't know."
That as a bit of a blow, considering that my only "error" that she could point to was telling her about various conspiracies that are so well documented that they can't be described as theories. I thought, "Well, she is entitled to her doubts. I've met plenty of people in churches who I wonder if they are real Christians. I even doubt people who seem to do everything right, wondering if it's just an act, or if they really mean it." This is because I've learned how deception is fed to the masses, that we really do live in a matrix. Jesus is the only One who really knows everything that is going on and can lead us through it.
Nobody is entitled to be trusted just because they go to church. Likewise, people who consider themselves Christians, but don't go to church, aren't necessarily fakes. Some of those people are just tired of the follies that they see going on in churches. They want Jesus, but they don't want the shredder that other people put them through when they betray their trust. Hopefully, they will get back into going to church, after they have had a rest and recuperated from the blows that sent them running.
I am thinking of a particular woman who stopped going to church when I was still attending the one where the pastor was preying on various women in the flock. Did she know about those shenanigans and is that part of why she left and wasn't interested in going to another church? Sometimes people don't tell us everything they know, because they don't want to be branded as a gossip, or sued, so they come off as sounding bitter and cynical for trivial reasons, and we judge them according to our limited understanding.
We live in a very weird and dangerous world. What a gift it is when we are allowed to live a common life, instead of being subjected to terrors that are the only life some people know, depending on what country or family they are born in. When I think of my pastor's betrayal in that light, it's just a comparatively low-level sort of problem. I am still ticked off at what it did to that couple who died before their time, but it serves to make me more aware of how our actions affect others far beyond the initial offence, and I want to be cautious that I don't set off those kinds of chain reactions.
My conundrum is that I just don't know how I could face that man, now, knowing this about him. Could I smile at him and say a friendly hello, as before? I'd like to ask him, "Hey, is it true that you had affairs with three to five women when I went to your church, and maybe even more?" I consider that my business because he acted like he had a right to expect us to obey him, when he wasn't morally qualified to be a pastor.
I don't believe that my friend lied to me, or that the other lady lied to her. Neither of them are the type to say those things, if they weren't true. Would that pastor palm me off with a lie? He has something to hide; he has been doing it all along. But even if he admitted it, then what? What more could I say? If he has no conscience, he wouldn't care what I said. If he has genuinely repented, my words aren't needed.
Well, at least I got some good out of going to that church, being ignorant at the time about what was going on with those women. I grew because of that man's good teaching and his good advice and his kindnesses, and in spite of the double life he led. Thank You, Yeshua. It's sure too bad about the people whose lives were shattered, though.
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