There has been a lot of talk and blogging about a well-known pastor who confessed to an affair yesterday. Because he’s a friend of mine I’ve e-mailed him. But I won’t comment on it here, because I think it’s none of my business.
What I will say is that we all need to be on guard. A lot of people have been saying that today: “Don’t let this happen to you!” but I don’t think that helps much. Here’s my practical advice for all of us:
- Love God. I mean really love Him, stay close to Him.
- Fear God. Be afraid of the consequences of sin and of God Himself.
- Have Authentic Accountability. Be totally transparent with a few trusted people about your temptations.
- Have Wide Boundaries. Set up your boundaries so even if you didn’t keep them, you’d still be far, far from sin.
Personally, I think the keys are #2 and #4. I’ve had several friends who have had affairs. Just about all of them would say that they (at least) felt like they loved God deeply. And many of them had accountability in their lives. (They just lied to their accountability partners.)
But I think virtually none of them would say that they feared God, but the Bible teaches us that we should. And I think if we fear Him, and the consequences of our sin, it would save us from having to suffer a lot of those consequences.
And … I think just about none of them would say they had good boundaries. I feel confident I’ll never screw up like this, and one of the biggest reasons is that I don’t see how I could. My wife ALWAYS knows where I am, and I am NEVER alone with a female. I take that to extremes. If there’s only one person in the office and it’s a female, I stay in my car until someone else shows up. I never drive alone with a female no matter what the situation.
So, if I’m right and those are four keys to affair-proof yourself — which of those four do you need to improve?
So very, very true. Do preachers lie to their accountability partners? Yes. Do they fear God? Not so much. Do they keep wide boundaries? Not the ones who get in trouble.
If your preacher, youth minister, intern — whoever — doesn’t follow the rules, especially rule 4, fire him. It should not be optional or up for debate. You can’t tell whether he’s being truthful with his accountability group. You can’t tell about his relationship with God. You can tell whether he is ever alone with a girl. No exceptions. No excuses. You see, by being strict, you may just save his marriage.
I don’t know the numbers. Only God does. But I’d bet the rate for Church of Christ ministers who get caught having had illicit sex is better than 20% — and that’s for the ones who get caught. And how many ministers went years in sexual sin before being discovered? Indeed, based on limited experience, my observation is that ministers who are guilty of sexual sin are generally repeat offenders — it’s not normally a one-night stand. It’s a series of one-night stands, because whatever drove them to sin in the first place — pride, resentment against their wives, a desire to prove their manhood to themselves — doesn’t get better with just one sin. And so they destroy not only their lives, they take many others down with them. Therefore, the boundaries should not be a suggestion. They should be a requirement for continued employment.
For a more detailed plan on how to help your ministers stay true to God, their families, their churches, and themselves, click here.