Pastors are powerful human beings. No other human being on earth has the
respect, honor and privilege that pastors have, not even heads of state. Too
many pastors, however, live in a dark world of secret sexual fantasies and
inappropriate behaviors. Too many pastors are themselves wounded and damage
material. They enter the ministry because it appeals to their need to be
accepted and to become powerful. Instead of admitting to their own
vulnerability, they allow their pride and ego to take control. When their
inordinate sexual desires raise their ugly heads, these pastors become weak
and powerless. The more powerful they are in the pulpit and in the eyes of
the believers, the weaker they are to oppose the sexual forces within them.
WHAT TO DO?
Accountability is the first step toward healing. The guilty pastor must
ask its congregation for forgiveness for violating its trust. In addition he
should remove himself from the position of trust, if only until complete
healing has taken place. It would be wise that the church or denominational
leaders remove the pastor from serving the church. If he is too proud to do
this, then his congregation will know that he is not a hopeful ministerial
prospect. If the pastor is the highest authority in the church and is not
accountable to a higher authority, then he or she and the church are in big
trouble, especially if he denies what is so obvious to others.
DENIAL AND COVER-UP
The greatest challenge to dealing with pastors who are accused of sexual
misconduct or any other inappropriate behavior is when they deny that
anything has happened, even when there are witnesses and tangible evidences.
In their own words: "Everyone is a liar." "People are only trying to hurt my
ministry." This is the time the pastor wields his most powerful sword of
persuasion on the weak-minded, blindly loyal congregants. He uses his most
effective weapon, the pulpit, to preach powerful sermons of how people in
Bible times tried to destroy the innocent. He would appear to be so genuine
and spiritual that blind loyalists would be more convinced that he is
telling the truth. There have been cases where the pastor uses his executive
powers by removing all persons from church office whom he thinks do not
support him. These are the pastors that set themselves up as demigods.
Often these kinds of behaviors are allowed to flourish because the church
administrators, or those who are the pastorís advisors, do nothing about it.
To prevent embarrassment, or the reputation of the pastor or church, they
cover up by not saying a thing. Itís a "hush, hush." It becomes the biggest
cover-up in town. Sometimes they move the pastor to another district, send
them overseas, or even to graduate school. But wherever the pastor goes, he
leaves a nasty trail of sexually inappropriate behavior. This is not helping
the pastor. These administrators become just as guilty and are accomplices
in the crime of destroying others and the life of the pastor. It is best to
deal with the pastor honestly than to push the situation under the rug.
WHAT CAN THE SPOUSE DO?
When a wife finds out that her minister husband has been cheating on her,
she may experience a mixture of feelings. She has been betrayed by the man
to whom she gave her life and body. She may become extremely angry,
frustrated, and ashamed. The news of her husbandís sexual behavior may push
her into a deep depression. Her greatest challenge is finding a confidant.
Facing the congregation, friends, and sometimes relatives seems most
difficult. The children will also face challenges at school from their peers
who seem so cold in their questioning and comments. Their lives have been
turned upside down by their fatherís behavior. Little do we know, without
divine healing and professional help, their lives will be ruined forever.
I encourage such spouses and family members to seek professional help.
Find a trusted friend or family member to depend on. Avoid being alone for
long periods at a time. Avoid feeling guilty for what has happened. Your
husband has made a choice on his own. You did not "make him do it." Take
care of yourself. You need not be troubled about making emotional, quick
decisions about ending the relationship. However, finding your own peace
might be most important. While going through this dark time in your life,
remember God has not abandoned you. Lean on Him. The sad part about all
of this is that we can only help the pastor if he wants to be helped. To
admit one needs help calls for great humility and the removal of false
Barrington H. Brennen is a marriage and family
therapist and nationally a certified psychologist, USA. Contact him at
1-242-327-1980, or P.O. Box CB-13019, Nassau, The Bahamas. Or you may email at