Three articles recently caught my attention.
One was a news story about another mega-church pastor who was called to resign from his church and all ministry positions because of inappropriate relations with two women. I know, I know. That’s hardly news anymore. And how profoundly sad it is that this kind of thing is overwhelmingly common these days.
A second article described the situation of another pastor who some time ago had an adulterous relationship. The article said that the elders of his church were aware of what had occurred, but had advised him to keep the matter a secret.
The third article was one describing what Russell Moore – the president of the Ethics and Religious Liberty Commission for the Southern Baptist convention, and a well published author – gave in a recent address. Moore believes that regardless of whether one is in leadership or not, confessing adultery to your spouse is absolutely necessary. He gives five reasons for this view.
• First, in 1 Corinthians 7:4, it says that neither the wife nor the husband has authority over their own bodies, but rather, their bodies belong to the other. Therefore, argues Moore, it is impossible for one to commit adultery and not have it effect his or her spouse.
• Second, failing to confess such a sin brings lies into the heart of a marriage.
• Third, we need to take ownership of our sins, rather than concealing them.
• Fourth, we need to accept the consequences of our sins.
• And finally, we can’t bring about reconciliation, unless the sin is acknowledged.
I have been thinking about those three articles, and how similar ones like this might help end the scourge of sexual misconduct among evangelicals, whether in the pulpit or in the pews.
As I read them, I was reminded of a tract produced some years ago by author Randy Alcorn. In this booklet, he invites every Christian, when not in the midst of temptation, to write out a list of what should happen to them if they were to commit adultery. In his own personal list, he imagines the joy among the demons of hell, the struggle to reconcile with the offended spouse, the conversation with the children, the damaged opportunity to share the gospel with others, and so forth. Alcorn urges readers to make just such a list as a tangible reminder of the consequences of adultery.
But even with all of these articles and resources, though effective, it seems the problem of infidelity and sexual purity is ever prevalent. What can the stories of disgraced pastors teach us, except that the stories themselves seem not to have discouraged others from walking down that same pathway? What is the solution?
Several things, I think, require thoughtful consideration.
First, is the sexual “soup” that all of us have become comfortable swimming in. In a recent article in Time Magazine, even secular authorities are now saying that our brains are being rewired because of frequent exposure to pornography. Sex seems less of a big deal than ever before. We need to cut ourselves off from such exposure!
Secondly, we need to keep relations with the opposite sex on a more formal and less familiar level. We need to be aware of how quickly the flesh deceives us.
And finally, we need to recapture an abhorrence of sexual sin. Until we do, there will continue to be many more articles in the news that capture our attention – in the wrong way.