Pastoral Infidelity: Better to Prevent than Restore

by · January 29, 2014

run from sexual sin 563176_533660413335141_1314144627_nWhat a tragic event to hear of a fallen pastor. Just this morning, I received a letter from a young minister who fell into a sexual sin. By God’s grace he repented and is now instructing other ministers about the dangers and pitfalls of lust.

How does it happen? How does a man who is so fully committed to serving God, a man who desires the highest good for the “sheep of his fold” make a decision that violates all that he calls holy?

How many men have expressed their devotion to their wives and said to them, “It is only you, my love. I will always be true to you.” only to find themselves unbuttoning the first button on their way to unfaithfulness. Can it happen to you?

The possibility of an affair exists for every pastor; the likelihood spans the charts from very likely to extremely unlikely. But even among the men who are extremely unlikely candidates for an affair, we must recall the words of Jim Carey as Lloyd in Dumb and Dumber. After the beautiful woman tells Lloyd there’s a one in a million chance for them to “get together” he says, “So you’re saying there’s a chance!”

The point is that Satan seldom wastes his temptations. Where one man is tempted to cheat on his wife for a physical or emotional satisfaction, another may be tempted to cheat on his income taxes because he is cheap. Both include selfishness; both include lying. Sin is sin.

The consequences of sins differ. A fallen pastor may well wreck the lives of his wife, his children, church members who believed his words and even non-believers who are made more certain by his actions that Christianity is no different than any other club.

It is an unintended and unfortunate consequence that the ministry itself is often the reason ministers fall. When a minister is incapable of compartmentalizing the challenges of ministry and the wonder of home-life, he may bring the stress of ministry to bear upon his family.

Loving and serving the people of God is an important calling. A pastor should give his best to sermon preparation, leadership and pastoral ministries. But when his day is over (as if) and he makes his way home, he simply must put on a new coat, a new name badge maybe even a new identity. Daddy’s home now. Now it is time to “Rejoice in the wife of your youth.” Church is important, but not that important.

Let me remind every pastor who reads this blog. We are commanded only to love our wives as Christ loved the church and gave Himself (died) for her. The church is Christ’s bride; your wife is your bride. He died for His bride; you are to be willing to die for yours.

But our wife is not the only focus in our home. Our children are next in focus after our wife. We are to give our life for our wife and we are to provide for our children. It isn’t a stretch to quote 1 Timothy 5:8 at this point. “If anyone does not provide for his own, those is his own household, he has denied the faith and is worse than an unbeliever.”

We all know church work can be tough; the pastorate is stressful. Leave the stress at the church. Hopefully your pastorate isn’t as bad as Scrooge’s office where Bob Cratchett sat day after day dutifully laboring in an oppressive existence. But even if it is, may your arrival at home be as delightful and love-filled as was his. He left Scrooge to his own demons and rejoiced in the joy, which awaited him in his happy home.

Be a daddy to the kids, a wise father to the older children. Be infatuated with love for your wife. Esteem her highly. Confer your love upon her regardless of merit. Your love is your choice to give.

We live in a sexually charged world. Determine to direct your thoughts toward home. Be a man of character and faithfulness. Remember that few if any fallen husbands cannot remember saying the same “I love you” and “I’ll always be true” that you have said to your wife. You must be circumspect (circum=around, spec=looking), be looking around, don’t get blindsided or caught off guard by lust. The temptation is coming. Be ready to run. Run home to the wife of your youth.

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