When the Pastor Has an Affair

It happens too frequently.

It can be the lead pastor or any church staff member.

And too many churches do not handle such tragedy well.

But many churches do. Allow me to share some of the best responses I have heard from churches that have gone through this tragic time.

  1. Terminate with compassion. Almost without exception, the pastor is terminated. But termination does not have to be without compassion. The pastor’s family will need financial provisions; thus many churches provide compassionate severances. And though pastors have full responsibility for their sins, they are hurting as well. Tough love and compassionate love are in order here.
  2. Don’t forget the pastor’s family. They have felt the greatest amount of betrayal. They are humiliated and hurt. This person they likely held in high esteem has fallen hard. The family needs compassion, love, attention, and counseling. Many church members do not know what to say, so they say nothing. I know one church member who sent the spouse and the children a simple handwritten note: “I have not forgotten you. I am here for you. I am praying for you.” It made all the difference in the world.
  3. Be forthright with the congregation. The rumors are often worse than reality. You don’t have to give the sordid details. But the church needs to know the pastor was terminated because of moral failure. Speak to the congregation succinctly, honestly, and compassionately.
  4. Provide resources for reconciliation. God’s ideal plan is for the couple to stay together—to make it through this terrible ordeal. The church can be an instrument of that process back to reconciliation. The church can provide the resources so that the couple can get strong Christian counseling. The process should also be one that seeks restoration for the pastor. That restoration may not mean that pastors are restored to their former office; it does mean the path should include a way to be restored to the congregation.
  5. Don’t forget the pain of the congregation. Many of them feel betrayed. Most of them feel hurt. Find ways to minister to the members for the next several months as they deal with this issue.
  6. Begin a ministry of prayer for this situation. I have been so encouraged to see some churches actually deal with this issue through a specific prayer ministry. One church offered a prayer and reconciliation time after every service. It only lasted a few minutes, and attendance was totally voluntary. But the responses were incredible, both in numbers attending and in the way people were impacted. The church began this ministry with a stated goal of continuing it for three months. It made a huge difference in the healing impact on the church.

When the pastor has an affair, it is a tragedy of huge proportions. But the church can respond biblically, redemptively, and compassionately.

It the midst of this awful situation, the church has the opportunity truly to be the body of Christ.

Posted on February 6, 2017

With nearly 40 years of ministry experience, Thom Rainer has spent a lifetime committed to the growth and health of local churches across North America.
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  • In my case, the church pastors were made aware of two full-time employees, one being my husband, having an affair. Three years later they are both still employed at the same church.
    Can an affair truly stop and the people involved not be enticed by each other while they continue to work together? Should I leave him?

    • As Dr. Rainer said, I would probably need more context to give a definitive answer. Still, I don’t think it’s a bit wise to continue working with someone with whom you’ve had an affair. It seems to me that situation is begging for trouble.

  • Pastor D. Leath - Open Door Worship Center - Richmond, VA says on

    Is firing the Pastor against what we teach regarding forgiveness and restoration? If the congregation is concerned about the family of the pastor, is adding financial stress (due to firing the pastor) helping the family? Why can’t the pastor be disciplined by the Board of Trustees, or whatever accountability structure is in place? He can be relieved of his pastoral duties and receive pastoral and marital counseling for a determined period of time. The idea is supposed to be reconciliation and correction. If the brother is able to be saved, the church would have done its job. If the congregation is looking for a sinless and perfect pastor, then they should consider closing its doors because a leader should be blameless, but that does not always pan out to be the case over time.

    • I’m not so sure. When a pastor commits a sin like this, he violates a very sacred trust. It takes a very long time to rebuild that trust. Even if he can continue in ministry, it’s usually not wise for him to continue at the same church.

      • Honestly, Pastor D. Leath, I think you have a point in wondering why we make such a big deal out of repentance and forgiveness for everyone and every sin, unless of course it’s the Pastor -sadly the same person who is typically on their own in regard to accountability and counseling. It seems a substantial amount of the far-reaching consequences we talk about are consequences that we (and the world) place on the sinner in these cases. We are the ones who feel betrayed and we are the ones who cannot trust the Pastor anymore. We only recognize church authority based on our view of the human leaders, when church authority really only comes from Christ. I wonder if we a bit off base ultimately. At any rate, those consequences are real, even if misguided. And of course, some of it is doctrinal. A great many sincere Christians believe the Bible itself says a Pastor can be disqualified by a sin in this area. Those churches should be faithful to Scripture as they see it, but I can’t help but wonder if “go and sin no more” is what we should really be after.

    • When one looks at the consecrating and ordaining of the Priests in the OT for the Tabernacle & Temple, it really isn’t hard to see the similarities between those offices and 1st. Tim. 3 and Titus 1.

      And when one looks at what the penalty was for a Priest in the OT who didn’t perform as told, it isn’t hard to see how serious God takes this subject.

      And when looks at the fact that God personally called those people to those positions, it isn’t hard to see how some would ask if these “pastors” were ever truly called, consecrated, and ordained.

      So if you are truly “wondering why we make such a big deal out of repentance and forgiveness for everyone and every sin, unless of course it’s the Pastor” and “if “go and sin no more” is what we should really be after” then I have to wonder how it is that you are a “pastor”.

      The Bible I read makes it abundantly clear that Shepherds are held to a higher standard and that there is obviously a severe lack of “fear of the Lord” when it comes to many holding or desiring to hold that position.

      Yes, absolutely, forgive and do everything possible to restore such a fallen one to fellowship within the local body BUT they have forever disqualified themselves from being a Shepherd and holding pastoral duties again.

      • If a priest sinned he was required to make a sacrifice. He wasn’t removed from the priesthood or considered permanently disqualified. Those who brought judgment upon themselves did so as a result of unrepentant sin, which the New Testament itself warns against. No one here is arguing that sin should be allowed or that unrepentant sin should be overlooked. Neither has God personally called only pastors. He has personally called you. Jesus and the Bible do not limit the calling of God to pastors. The Bible says that teachers are held to a higher standard by God, not merely pastors. Yet we are more than willing to practices patience and forgiveness with Bible study teachers, and Sunday School teachers than we are with pastors. I also will gladly accept that “go and sin no more” is what we are truly after. May I always be accused of repeating the words of Jesus. At least, as my Bible says. Finally, I admit I have never believed I Corinthians 9:7 was talking about forever disqualifying a pastor for adultery. I am more of a General Baptist and less of a Calvinist there. But regardless, we serve a Savior who gave Jezebel “time to repent” in Revelation 2:21. It seems that repentance is what Jesus was after. If we saw Jesus as the head of the church, more than we see human beings at the head of the church, then perhaps we would shoot our wounded less.

      • Royce Van Blaricome says on

        Better read your Bible again, “Pastor”. It doesn’t appear that you’re familiar with Nadab and Abihu and they didn’t even commit sexual immorality. Even the Kohathites, who simply constructed and tore down the Tabernacle to be moved were warned that they would DIE if God’s instructions weren’t followed.

        God does not contradict Himself and the “Guilt Offering” listed in Lev. 4 was NOT for committing adultery. God said the penalty for Adultery was death. The offering of Lev. 4 for the Priest was in perfect alignment and consistent with God’s other instructions on sacrifices for the People.

        How is it that you as a “pastor” aren’t seeing that??!!

        That said, I never said anything about God not calling everyone to something. THAT is NOT the subject here. The subject of this article is Fallen Pastors. My comments specifically addressed those pastors who have committed sexual immorality and why anyone would think God had called them to the position.

        As for the “go and sin no more”, while you’re accepting that you should also accept that Jesus makes NO mention to her continuing to hold any kind of a position – including being a wife. Moreover, any pastor who has committed adultery while as a pastor WOULD be sinning if he were to remain in that position for God says he’s disqualified himself!!

        I have NO idea what you are talking about wrt 1st Cor. 9:7 and not being permanently disqualified for adultery. It almost sounds as though you are saying a pastor should be able to taste the fruits of his flock and I find that unbelievable. That said, 1st Tim. 3 and Titus 1 make it clear that he’s permanently disqualified. Again, how is it as a “pastor” you don’t see that?

        If you saw Jesus as the head of your church more than humans the perhaps you’d choose to obey Him instead of trying to rationalize and justify sin in the name of compassion and love and repentance.

        More assuredly Jesus wants repentance but in NO way does one’s repenting, and even being restored to fellowship, detract from one permanently disqualifying themselves from certain positions in the Body.

        And, not to beat a dead horse, but you might simply ask yourself if the Treasurer of your church were to be found guilty of Embezzlement and Theft, are you EVER gonna entrust that person to be Treasurer again?? Should ANY other church do so just because the person confessed, repented, and was restored to fellowship?

      • Looks like some Moderator didn’t like my last comment and I’m not getting notified of any replies so I’m just gonna say that you’re wrong. God doesn’t contradict Himself and the penalty for Adultery was Death. NO sacrifice was enough so that’s a falsehood.

        I’m also gonna say this again in the hopes that you see it and it’s left for others to see as well:

        You might simply ask yourself if the Treasurer of your church were to be found guilty of Embezzlement and Theft, are you EVER gonna entrust that person to be Treasurer again?? Or one of the members of your church should be convicted of child molestation but confesses, repents, and is restored to fellowship, are you EVER gonna entrust that person to be involved in a children’s ministry?? Should ANY other church do so just because the person confessed, repented, and was restored to fellowship?

        Now, since somebody doesn’t want the truth to be told, I’m outta here.

      • Nell Parker says on

        Someone who sexually abuses a child has a deep psychological dysfunction that cannot be compared to either an affair or embezzlement. All can be forgiven, but a pedophile will still suffer with those urges for the rest of his life.

        Pedophiles are in a different category. Not only have they sinned but they have have a mental dysfunction. They must never be around children unsupervised for the rest of their lives, even if they have repented.

      • Royce, it is so refreshing to hear your words of truth and I thank you, as a survivor of clergy sexual abuse.

        Clergy are called to the highest moral and spiritual standing of all jobs. I agree that if someone can’t hold that position without having sex with a member of his church, he is not called to be a pastor.

        David was not a pastor, but a king. Still, many pastors use him as an example. They leave out that David’s life was filled with death and bloodshed after he abused Bathsheba, his own son attempting to kill him.

        They leave out Moses, who was forbidden from entering the promised land due to disobeying God.

        They leave out Ezekiel 34, where God calls such men His enemies and removes them from leadership.

        They leave out that leaders are called to a higher standard than laypeople.

        As mentioned earlier, would a church reinstate a treasurer who stole money? Would they reinstate a teacher who molested a child? Whey are they reinstating leaders who cannot control their sexual urges?

        Forgiveness does not mean restored to leadership. Restoring clergy after betraying their sacred trusted responsibility is foolish. It is not unforgiving; it is wise.

        Thank you for speaking truth, Royce.

      • Blanche Quizno says on

        A great many of us have *no desire* to step out on our marital partners. We cheat as much as we want to, and that amount is “never”.

        And we don’t have to be Christians to embody this kind of temperament.

        So why isn’t Christianity helping those who embrace it to meet this supposed ideal? That’s what *I* would be wondering, especially if those who are the most intensive Christians – its clerical leaders – are having these sorts of problems. Kind of makes it look like it’s not working, doesn’t it?

    • D. Leath, would you reinstate a treasurer who stole money from the church? If so, when? Would you reinstate a Sunday School teacher who molested a child? If so, when?

      Moses was prevented from entering the promised land because he disobeyed God.

      Shepherds who don’t feed their flock, but feed themselves are God’s enemies and He removes them from leadership. (Ezekiel 34)

      Forgiveness does not mean restoration to leadership. Restored to God, yes, but not restored to leadership. The betrayal is so great, it has eternal consequences.

      Please take the time to read this statement from GRACE that asks the church to take action when clergy abuse their power. It is regarding two brothers who happen to be Billy Graham’s grandsons.

      This is the article in The Christian Post – http://www.christianpost.com/news/tullian-tchividjians-uncle-brother-grace-board-call-sex-scandal-gross-misuse-of-power-172011/

      The statement is found at https://static1.squarespace.com/static/54596334e4b0780b44555981/t/5848d17520099ed16a244d01/1481167221895/Statement+from+the+GRACE+Board+of+Directors+-+FINAL.pdf

      Please consider the damage done to the woman who was used to meet the pastor’s sexual desires when you offer help to the leader. A leader must never use his power to meet his own needs and is 100% responsible for keeping healthy boundaries between himself and those he is called to protect.

      Thank you,
      Survivor of Pastoral Sexual Abuse

  • You left out one person in your otherwise fine post: the person the pastor was having the affair with. There should at least be prayer for that person, whoever he/she is and whether a member of the same congregation or not. But particularly there will need to be ministry with that person if he/she is a congregation member, or another staff person. And sadly, if the person was someone who had sought counseling from the pastor, this could be seen as an abuse of power by the pastor; there could be ongoing repercussions, including legal. This is all extremely difficult for everyone involved; prayer and solid counseling are also critical for the partner in the affair, who may be more a victim than a villain.

      • I agree with the point above, and would like to take it even further. I am cringing at every use of the word ‘affair’. An affair by nature is consensual. When one person in a relationship has the balance of power as a pastor does over a congregant, then it is not an affair. It is an abuse of power. In your article you made a very fleeting reference to ‘the couple’. That is it. Yes, the damage to the church is on an order of magnitude that is hard to comprehend. But the damage to the victim can be eternal. It can lead to suicide, or a complete renouncing of one’s faith. I appreciate your words to the church here, but you have completely missed one entire side of this, and it is a side that is very significant.

        As for restoration of a pastor, once one has abused their power in such a way, I do not believe that they should ever be at the helm of a church. They have forfeited that right. The damage they have caused to the victim and the victim’s family should take precedence over the pastor’s desire to minister.
        From one who has been there, and is dealing with it now, 30 years later.

      • Same here, Sheila. I was kidnapped and sexually abused as a child. My pastor used that wound that was never dealt with to pursue me. I was unable to detect the incoming danger because I never, in a million years, thought that he would hurt me. It was only because of his title that he gained personal and confidential information about me. The pain he caused was much greater than my childhood trauma. He disqualified himself from the ministry and thankfully, the denomination he was ordained, at my request, revoked his ordination.

        As long as the church keeps reinstating leaders who cannot stay pure sexually, it will continue to be unsafe for the wounded and vulnerable.

        You said, “The damage they have caused to the victim and the victim’s family should take precedence over the pastor’s desire to minister.” I agree completely. Eternal lives are at risk.

        I pray God’s continued healing to you and your family.
        Blessings to you!

      • leona butler says on


    • Good points, Erma. Being in constant contact with those who are victims of pastoral sexual abuse, I can confirm that they are not being cared for, but are instead, shunned, ignored, and blamed. Eternal lives are at risk and the damage is extremely extensive. If you research help for pastors who abuse their power (misinterpreted as ‘affairs’), there are several sites. But try looking for a ministry for the victim or ‘other woman’ as is often termed. There are very few. I sent over 100 letters to churches in my area asking them to meet with me so I can share my story. They do not reply back to me. It is very discouraging and disheartening. I cannot stop fighting though because I hear from other survivors on a daily basis struggling to make it through the pain. A friend of mine sent a DVD of her story to the churches in her area. She attempted to end her life. She was also ignored. It is devastating. After abuse, support is vital. Being shunned only adds to the pain. I am so passionate about this because the pain is so great. Being led into a relationship with my pastor was more painful than being kidnapped and sexually abused as a child. He used my pain to pursue me and I would never had been that easily led if I wasn’t abused as a child. Pastors are seeking the wounded and vulnerable because they are easy prey. It is traumatic. Thankfully, all is not lost, only because God is fully able and willing to bring healing. That doesn’t take away the greatest pain all of us have endured.
      I hope people realize that the majority of women involved with clergy never set out to have a relationship with them and many, if not most, were not even attracted to their spiritual leaders. The emotional bond was formed first, at the leaders prompting. It’s such a messy, confusing time. There are too many dynamics to discuss here.
      But, thank you for thinking about the victims.

      • Mary Jo, Churches don’t want to address negative issues. They read books like The Sticky Church and realize love bombing is the key to growth. Refusing to even acknowledge what you are saying relays the message that unless members are there to smile, praise the leadership and offer unlimited support to the church, they need to go elsewhere.

        I think your efforts and that of the DVD lady would be better spent writing the legislators in your state and all adjoining states. Offer to testify before the House and Senate, then start speaking at local precinct meetings, rotary clubs, etc. The laws need to be changed to recognize sexual relations between a pastor and a church member they are counseling or ministering to, as a felony. Some states, like Texas, already have this. You certainly have both the passion and the compelling story to get this done.

        These days churches are run as businesses (which they legally are). They have too many lawyers and crisis management consultants that will block your message, lest any sheep get the idea that they are victims, ergo potentially entitled to compensation. Better to stick their fingers in their ears and close their eyes.

        Making the type of clerical sexual abuse that you experienced, a class two felony, is how you can best affect positive and necessary change in the U.S. Right now the main penalty for such abuse is a cushy severance and some counseling, often at a gorgeous, resort style rehab center. What other industry pays several months of severance to those terminated for gross violation of their employment agreements? That’s not much of a deterrent in such a fertile hunting ground. I hope you consider doing this. Best wishes and thank you for your bravery. You speak for many that haven’t had the 30 years of processing time yet to speak up.

      • Serving Kids in Japan says on

        Hear, hear!

      • Blanche Quizno says on

        That’s great advice, Jen. If the “body of Christ” is so diseased that its members will not listen to the voice of one who stands to help, then society must step in and provide the means for protecting the vulnerable from the predators.

        Shame churches don’t seem to have much interest in doing this for themselves…

      • They really can’t. A lot of right-wing churches have this narrative of how relationships should work and how their church should function, and that narrative sits on top of reality–in effect becoming a blocker to stop people from seeing that reality. Anything that happens in that group that doesn’t fit with the narrative they’ve got going is simply blocked away. Ignored.

        There’s no way in the world that these groups can possibly set up policies and procedures to protect the vulnerable from the myriad abusers and predators in their ranks from top to bottom–because the narrative says that “Jesus fixes/changes/improves people” and especially that “those in power deserve to be there and were put there by a god.” To put into place protective measures would be to concede that protective measures are needed–which itself concedes that the narrative is flat wrong. The idolized narrative is the problem here, but when something goes so seriously pear-shaped that police get involved or a church goes belly-up, you can bet anything you want with confidence that the people reeling from the fallout will blame themselves for not fully complying with their narrative’s demands long before they ever question the validity of the narrative they’re laboring under.

        That’s also one reason why evangelicals’ divorce rate is so astronomically high: their teachings themselves range from ineffective to disastrous, but when a divorce happens, the people involved will probably blame themselves for not having followed evangelicalism’s teachings about marriage–and never once wonder if those teachings are actually good. Same thing happens with people who try a recipe, see the food turn out horribly, and conclude that they’re just not cut out to be cooks–never wondering if the recipe is just poorly written.

  • One thing churches might also do is a simple “gut check” to answer, within reason, why the adultery might have happened, what they can do to prevent future occurrence, and the like. Was something missed in the hiring process, or was the pastor working too many hours away from his wife, or something else? Another “gut check” on how these things could have been detected earlier would be good–what signs did people miss that they should have acted on.

    Not to be conducted as “blamestorming”, but there probably is a lot people can do to encourage each other in that wonderful calling of marriage.

    • Many pastors do not have much accountability as to how they spend their time. This allows unfettered access to just about anyone. I believe that seminaries should require pastors/ministers in training to take courses on appropriate boundaries, misconduct and abuse of power. Those in ministry need to understand that THEY are responsible to maintain appropriate boundaries with staff & congregants. Additionally, people in churches should be educated about pastoral abuse and that it is ok to ‘raise the red flag’ if they suspect inappropriate behavior by someone in ministry. Countless victims could have been spared if someone had followed their gut instinct and spoke up. This fear of accountability needs to be removed.

      • Well said, Anna! The church is losing its effectiveness in the world and a big reason is from its leaders abusing their power and not being held accountable. It is hypocritical to preach on Sunday while having sex with a congregant during the week. “He’s only human” is a lame excuse and does not hold up with God. Clergy are 100% responsible to keep healthy boundaries and the congregation most definitely should be aware of the ‘red flags’ that every abuser possesses. One of the biggest red flags is a refusal to be accountable to a board.

        I pray the church wakes up and removes abusive leaders while providing support to those most harmed, the victims.

  • Hey 24,

    I hope you will try to aee yourself as a stabilizer in this very chaotic moment. People are hurting and while you are new to the situation, you are the one God has left in the middle of it. He is training you and promises to guide you through it. Stay until He says otherwise.
    Although trust is lacking now, you have the opportunity to develop a
    culture of humility and transparency as the church deals with its failures.
    You are there by design. Let the Designer use you there.

    Taking a moment to pray for you right now. P

  • James H. Diehl says on

    Very good response, Thom! We in the Church of the Nazarene do have a process of restoration that takes several years to complete. I’ve seen some pastors get right into that path and find restoration to ministry (however, not at the same church where the affair happened). Some never desire to start the restoration process. All sin can be forgiven but, as you said, sin does have consequences. Tough subject~~~good advise from you!

    • James, Do you provide healing for his victims? In all these posts, the victim is rarely mentioned. When a pastor chooses to lead someone to have sex with him (or in the rare occasion that he is seduced, which he should flee like Joseph did), her eternal life is at stake. I wonder how the church reaches out to the woman that was used to meet the pastor’s own desires rather than helping her become closer to God.

      I hear from women on a daily basis who are in real pain after having a relationship with a pastor. I just found a study that showed that 90% of clients who have a sexual relationship with their therapist is harmed. How much more devastating it is when it is a clergy/congregant relationship.

      My hope is that churches are providing a means of healing for the victims.

      • Blanche Quizno says on

        The pastor’s partner may well have been a witting and willing participant, you know, and someone NOT even in the church! Interesting that so many Christians view the situation as necessarily involving a predatory pastor – wonder where they got THAT idea…

  • Thom S Rainer says on

    To all –

    I will likely not provide advice if the question is obviously regarding a specific situation. Since I do not have the full context, it would be unfair for me to comment from my ignorance. Thanks for understanding.

    • Just give a general answer because the described events are very common in the post truth era in the churches in the Western world

      • Blanche Quizno says on

        I affirm Thom Rainer’s decision to not give advice for personal situations of this nature here – it’s not appropriate. Especially given that it does not seem to be cheating pastors who are writing in asking for advice, but people who KNOW pastors who have cheated.

        If anything, let the principle of lovingkindness be your guide instead of judgmentalism and gossip.

  • I would add another step. Church leaders- men and women leaders- need to have a honest reckoning of their ministry model. Are the demands unreasonable? How are they protecting and supporting marriages including the pastors. How isolated are their pastors from a loving community? In some churches the pastors seem to,live “above ” the community- not in a community. Churches seem to ask for time and energy commitments that hurt the best of marriages even among the congregation.

    • Thom S Rainer says on

      Well said, Susan.

      • The church in general is in a mess, Seniour Pastor divorced twice, married 3 times, another Lead Well known Pastors wife died, he married a 3 times divorced woman, marriage done by a well known American Pastor, piles and piles of immoral behavior in the church because these men and women are not submitted to anyone and they will not discipline each other because of money and you scratch my back I’ll scratch yours – I’ve been number 2 in a very large church for 20 years and I’m disgusted by the behavior of other ministers who are asked to preach in our churches by Seniour Pastors – sorry Jesus for ruining your Church

      • Forgiveness please

  • I was brought in to be a youth pastor in a church that I was very excited to work for about 6 months ago.

    Three weeks into the new post, my mentor and longtime friend, the associate pastor of the church, was discovered in an affair with another staff pastor in our church’s wife. The other pastor on staff, the one whose wife cheated, was later revealed to have been emotionally abusive toward his spouse and children.

    Both pastors were let go, and five months later, our senior pastor stepped down. That was last Sunday.

    I’m the last pastor on staff, in youth ministry, and alone with a congregation that actively distrusts me, the staff, and the church elders. I don’t have the relational capital to lead these people, the board has assumed control of the church, & it feels like my whole life is falling apart… and I’m not even married, or the one who cheated!!

    Affairs are devastating. All sin is level at the foot of the cross, but not all sin completely levels entire lives.

    • Thom S Rainer says on

      You are so right. All sins can be forgiven, but the consequences of some sins can be far reaching.

      • Royce Van Blaricome says on

        Exactly! Folks only need to ask themselves if the Treasurer of your church were to be found guilty of Embezzlement and Theft, are you EVER gonna entrust that person to be Treasurer again?? Or one of the members of your church should be convicted of child molestation but confesses, repents, and is restored to fellowship, are you EVER gonna entrust that person to be involved in a children’s ministry?? Should ANY other church do so just because the person confessed, repented, and was restored to fellowship?

      • I agree completely with your thoughts, Royce. I’ve used both of those examples in my arguments. No one has ever answered me when I ask about the treasurer stealing money. Would you put them back into that position and if so when? The child molester too. It is foolish to reinstate him to that position. A pastor hold GREAT power and responsibility and the damage done when they abuse their positions is so great. Why put them back? Why take the risk? There are humble servant leaders who can fill that role. Why replace one who betrayed the most sacred trusted position there is? Forgiveness does not mean restored to leadership. Moses is a perfect example.

        Also, my heart breaks that the victim is being ignored in this piece, completely ignored. This only causes further pain. I pray for the day the church steps up and supports the victims and holds the abusers accountable. Until then, the church is not reflecting Jesus.

      • I agree- there is no mention of the victim who lokedmup to the pastor, and as one in authority had some influence. The secular world recognizes this situation and sees it he power position as coercive. Who restores the other party in the affair? They are often ostracized – or in some cases paid or asked to leave the church. They as just as valuable to God – Christ died for them. Where is the reconciliation plan for them?

      • Blanche Quizno says on

        Well, in fairness, this is about a pastor who steps out. He may be stepping out with someone who is NOT in the church – it might be a neighbor, or a friend of his wife’s (assuming she has any friends at all that aren’t fellow church members) or a relative’s spouse or the friend/coworker/associate of a relative or friend.

        So the focus is entirely on *THE PASTOR* – it’s interesting that people are assuming the affair HAD to involve someone else in the church. I know that happens a lot…it’s just a variant on the workplace romance – at work is where most people meet their future spouses, after all. And the church is the pastor’s workplace, along with the other staffers. So…typical, I guess.

    • Be encouraged 24 and let God use you. You never know why God placed you in this situation, but it may be to help bring healing to the wounds of the congregation. Just be faithful to preach and teach the word in the context which you have been given. The word will bring healing and will get their minds back on the main thing.

      I just became the senior pastor of a church (my first official pastorate) where the long time pastor resigned and retired after moral failure(s). The congregation is hurting, but they are hopeful. Much of the knowledge I received about the depth of the failures came after I was called to this church. As discouraging as the situation is at times, I do have hope that the church will be able to rise from this.

    • My husband was in a similar position at a church plant when he was left as the only staff person. I grieve for your grief, because we have been there. May God pour out his grace on you as you faithfully walk with him through this difficult process.

    • Your himbleness and pain is heard . Don’t despair. Is there a godly couple you and your wife can trust in your family or another church to walk you through this time? You personally need some time and space to grieve and hurt and lament what has happened. I know Rob Bell is out of favor in many places but he has a phenomenal series on lament which has brought healing to many in the church. Can hear via podcast.
      Churches often put way too much on the leaders. There is often great wisdom and kindness in the community.

    • One was taken the other one left

    • Blanche Quizno says on

      Wow, sorry to hear that. Perhaps now’s the time to send out some feelers for a position with a different church.

  • 10 years ago, I was the senior pastor and my then-wife became addicted to having affairs. We had an intervention with her home ministers and she was in a clinic for a month. She never stopped having affairs so I resigned. Church was gracious with a 3 month severance. My then-wife moved in with her Mom in another state with my kids. I followed to be near my kids. SBC state convention treated me like a leper (would not return my calls) even though I was a faithful husband and pastor. Hard situation and has taken me 10 years to heal and recover. I have never returned to vocational ministry but an active volunteer in my church and still pulpit supply. No roadmap for when the pastor’s wife becomes addicted to affairs.

    • Sorry, JA. That really is a case of the church shooting our wounded. My heart grieves for the pain you have suffered on many levels…especially the lack of compassion from those who should have cared for you. It seems to be the pattern of many denominational leaders in their dealing with hurting pastors. I’m not sure why. I suspect it is not out of lack of care or compassion, but rather at a loss of how to deal with the real issues of restoration and care.

      I grieve your loss and loss of the church in your departure from vocational ministry.

    • I wish no disrespect or to offend but I have to wonder from your comments if you have truly “healed”.

      Additionally, given the requirements listed in 1st Tim. 3 & Titus 1, I think it’s fair to ask if you have considered whether or not God actually called you to a pastoral position. While some pastors, elders, pew-sitters, and so-called “Christian Counselors” would be quick to tell you that your wife would not have done those things had you been loving her as Christ loved The Church, I am NOT one of those. Christ Himself being the Truth that exposes that lie!

      However, I do think it’s fair to ask the question that if God knew your wife would do those things, would he have called you to the pastorate and, if so, why? I would have to say it’s certainly possible. While God does not tell us why he chose certain prophets or what the specific qualifications were for one, Hosea certainly shows us that God would have a godly man marry an ungodly woman so I don’t think it a stretch to say God could’ve called you to the ministry knowing what your wife would do.

      However, that doesn’t mean He would contradict Himself and allow you to stay in that position. Obviously there must be something else He has in mind for you now and it’s likely what has occurred has something to do with that.

      May you find that if you haven’t and God Bless…

    • Brother, my wife became “addicted” to having “affairs. Deception runs deep. Fast and pray for forty days, and then get back to me.

    • Blanche Quizno says on

      That’s really a shame. Monogamy just doesn’t work well for some people, and it’s a shame our society doesn’t offer acceptance for the myriad expressions of relationships and sexuality. If a person who is monogamous is married to someone who’s polyamorous, well, that may not work out and they should get divorced, but if they’ve been honest and up front with each other from the beginning, they should have been able to figure that out before their wedding.

      It’s a shame there are so many rigid limitations placed on people – causes nothing but suffering.

    • I am so sorry to hear about that, she deserve to be sentenced to dead. Because the wegest of sins dead according to the Bible . Sometimes Satan try to destroy your faith and your ministry, so the best weapon for Satan to destroy your ministry is to destroy your wife if he can not destroy you. You merrage the wrong wife. She is very shameless and abomination to God. Pray for her to repantance her sin. God will bring punishment to her one day or any other day in her life.

  • What if it is the associate pastor’s spouse? Do we fire the person, or lead them through a process of restoration?

    • Show grace and lead them through reconciliation

    • Blanche Quizno says on

      Gossip about them, point and stare, give them ample side-eye, and shun them while loudly commenting on what failures they are within their earshot.

      It’s the Christian way.

      • S’truth. ^^^

        When people with no management experience start trying to act like managers, nothing but catastrophe is going to result. Labeling those catastrophes as “loving” fools nobody except those who ache most to be fooled. Church leaders will need to wise up and start treating their groups like the businesses they really are–before those businesses close for lack of interest.

  • Sir, what if the pastor had an affair from the past when he is not yet the pastor of the church, how should be handled?

    Thanks and blessings to your ministry.

    • Phil Schultz says on

      Hopefully this sin was committed in the other side of the cross(before you got saved. If so, that sin is covered too. If not, confess the sin and get some accountability partners in your life. If lust and/or extramarital affair is still a struggle you should pray about your calling.

      • What if it happened on the early stage of marriage and already in a ministry. There was a confession and repentance already…and after several years it was brought up. Is it right for the congregation to ask the pastor to step aside?

      • If he committed adultery while in the ministry, he is no longer qualified according to I Timothy 3:1-7. He is no longer ‘above reproach’.

      • H.L. Jackson says on

        Not necessarily true, depending on how long ago the incident happened and if there has been demonstrable repentance and restoration since. God is in the business of forgiveness and restoration.

        I am not aware of a scriptural mandate for a lifetime disqualification from ministry due to certain sins, but not others, assuming true confession, repentance, reparations and restoration take place. After all, none of us are ever fully above reproach. Show some grace, there, Anna.

      • Blanche Quizno says on

        So. Did Jesus die for ALL sins or just for certain sins, committed within a certain time frame? If Jesus’s blood is the atonement for sin, even if that is solely applied to Christians, it certainly applies to a pastor in this situation.

        You judgmental Christians should reread Matt. 7:1-5, thou hypocrites.

        And not that there is nothing “loving” about firing someone from his job. It only makes you look bad to describe it as such. It’s NOT.

      • Blanche Quizno says on

        Considering how many church leaders are bald-faced, unrepentant grifters, shamelessly stealing from their flock for their own luxury and fame, I’d think a pastor having a piece on the side should be the LEAST of your

        It says a lot that this is such a focus, when these OTHER pastors are harming *dozens*, *hundreds*, *THOUSANDS* of people through their avarice and greed.

        Way to miss the point and the focus.

      • If “lust” is still a struggle??? Of course you mean “sexual lust” being that “lust” comes in many forms, “lust” for power, money, mega church, book deal, etc. Frankly, any man who says he no longer struggles with “lust” of any kind does not know how truly wicked his heart is and how truly holy our God is, growing in grace is a daily struggle with the “lust” of the eyes, the “lust” of the flesh and the pride of life, if you dont struggle with them you are not a Christian or you have gone home

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