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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  • Tim Earle says on

    Mr. Rainer, I would have to give a correction to the title. It should read when the pastor has been involved in sexual misconduct. He or she occupies a position of authority and most of the time it is with the pastor and a congregant but not always. An affair is between equals and most of the time this type of conduct is between those who are not equal in position or authority therefore it is sexual misconduct.

  • Robin A. Greiner says on

    While I agree with much of what you said, I would encourage you to consider adding something and changing something.
    Add: This article doesn’t mention how the church should minister to the “other person.” There is another hurting person/marriage in this dynamic. He/she/they also have to work through the pain of betrayal and the reconciliation to God/the church/their spouse.
    Change: I would love to see you use a word other than “affair.” There is a spiritual dynamic and spiritual authority at play in a “relationship” between a pastor and another person, so I would encourage you to see the relationship as “spiritual abuse.” Many times (granted, not always), the relationship starts between a pastor and a counselee or a staff person — which is a power/spiritual differential. The pastor is being sought out for advice, spiritual guidance, mentorship, and instead, takes emotional or sexual liberties. That’s abuse, not an affair.
    Thanks for being willing to address this tough topic.

  • Betrayal is horrible. We are quick to share what we have seen and experienced. All of which are valid. Sadly, we (myself included), are even quicker to add our condemnations and lament these situations but offer few solutions. Very few comments shared expressed being loving. Love is be our hallmark; “They will know we are Christians by our love.” Yet most churches, leaders and organizations have trouble expressing love in the midst of betrayal. I know. Its hard when we are betrayed to be loving but I don’t see where we are exempt from it. How do we translate Christ’s kind of merciful and gracious love in this most difficult of situations?

    Having this brought to my attention, yet again, has inspired me to see what I can do to help a minister (and his family) that are hurting and demonstrate Christ’s love to them. I am also going to be ever more diligent to protect myself and prepare my church. I can’t change the world but I affect my part of it.

    FYI: First Baptist Church Woodstock, GA addresses these situations in a loving manner with an intent to repair, redeem, and restore ministers and their families with love in their City of Refuge. Not all of Christendom have been caught flatfooted on this issue.

    • Rowser, how are you ministering to the victims? You mention love but you never mentioned how you will love the victim. I’m interested in how you bring healing to the minister, his family, and the victim and her family. How can a church reconcile a pastor with the woman he abused? They cannot coexist in the church so who do you choose to help?

      It sounds very righteous to say, “They’ll know we are Christians by our love.” Love does not mean allowing a pastor to remain in the congregation he betrayed, deeply. Love does not mean ignoring the one most harmed, the victim.

      Love does not negate righteousness and justice, the very foundation of God’s throne. If you would listen to the damage caused by clergy when they lead a member into a sexual relationship, maybe you would gain a better understanding of what is happening.

      It’s difficult hearing you talk about love when most victims have been shunned, ignored, and blamed by the very place they were harmed. Eternal lives are at stake. Many cannot attend church, read their Bibles, or pray. They are not experiencing the love and support you are quick to offer to the abuser.

      May God bring healing to His church and make it a safe place for the wounded and vulnerable and may He remove abusive leaders from the pulpit.

      Standing with the hurting,
      Survivor of Pastoral Sexual Abuse

  • This piece broke my heart. As Victim Support Coordinator for The Hope of Survivors, I see the incredible damage done to the victims. How can the church claim to be the body of Christ in these situations without one mention of the victim? I ask you to read the survivor stories and hear the destruction these abusers are causing to the body of Christ (thehopeofsurvivors.com/survivors.php). God calls such men His enemies (Ezekiel 34) and removes them from leadership. Why is the church embracing its abusers?

    Please learn about clergy sexual abuse and know that these are NOT affairs. Pastors are exploiting the wounded and vulnerable members of their congregations. There is no equality in power, therefore, there is no consent.

    Billy Graham’s grandsons were in the news recently. One grandson, Tullian Tchividjian, was fired from two churches after several ‘affairs.’ His brother Boz, works with abuse victims and after recognizing the abuse of power dynamic, he helped create and signed the following statement for the church. It is a must read for anyone who wants to be the body of Christ after clergy abuse their power. GRACE (Godly Response to Abuse in the Christian Environment). The statement is found at https://static1.squarespace.com/static/54596334e4b0780b44555981/t/5848d17520099ed16a244d01/1481167221895/Statement+from+the+GRACE+Board+of+Directors+-+FINAL.pdf

    Until the church opens its eyes to the truths and dynamics of clergy sexual abuse, the damage will continue, the church will not provide a safe environment for the wounded and vulnerable, and the Kingdom of God will be severely damaged.

    • MourningManyofThesePosts says on

      Mary Jo Noworyta, I have read numerous posts of yours and am saddened by your story. It is obvious that you are passionate about this subject – and rightfully so – and your work with others who have been wounded and that is a truly beautiful ministry you are in.
      Based on your posts, it may appear that you could be still speaking out of your deep wounds and that pain totally influences your perceptive in all matters to pastoral moral failures. What the posts give them impression of, is someone crying out for close attention to be paid to these situations, but the crying out does not seem to have redemption as a component of it. Let him (or her) who is without sin – cast the first stone. God redeems all: murders, thieves, liars, the greedy, the lazy, the work-a-holic, the judgmental, the critic, the gossiper, the glutton, the alcoholic, the drug user, etc. etc. etc. In other words, the truly repentant are forgiven. Those who are unrepentant don’t receive it because they do not qualify. What does God require of you? Act justly, love mercy and walk humbly with your God. Let us be lead by the Spirit in all things, pray for discernment and then obey how the Lord leads on a case – by case basis.

      P.S. There are some interesting blog/posting “trolls” on here…just trying to stir the commenting…

  • This article topic was of interest to me, because I’ve seen firsthand the crash of multiple pastors and the impact to the congregation and families picking up the pieces.

    But I’ve also lived through Church discipline gone amuck so handling these situations with grace is a topic worthy of discussion.

    In my own situation we gave up a lot financially for me to serve as Director over the small group ministry, but I was living on love and happily living out my calling. That was all turned upside down when an elder had a strong difference of political views with my husband and used an old article written against my husband with intentional misinformation as grounds for my dismissal. It was a wild ride where falsehoods and lies were spread and longtime friends stepped away … and we felt completely alone. In our situation, less of a quick knee jerk reaction and a little more time to listen and understand first would have made a big difference. My husband was between jobs, so it was a major hit for us until God intervened for us. We got to see God’s hand dramatically … We needed to move to start over, but houses weren’t selling in our area. But, we didn’t need to even list ours … a neighbor stopped by a few days after and said they couldn’t sleep and kept being wakened with the message to buy our house. So that was taken care of. From there I needed a job, but had been out of my former industry as an engineer for 7 years and felt the prospects were probably poor. As I was praying I felt a company in another state come to mind again and again …I only applied to this one place, which is known to be picky and slow in hiring, yet I was quickly hired and started exactly one month of being let go. Time and time again we had God open opportunities and provide for us. However, even 9 years later the experience has drawn me closer to God, but still I’m fearful to get closely involved in a church and chance being known and publically rejected again. I believe these situations require extra prayer and responsibility from the church leadership to give grace in the transition process.

  • Here is one for you:
    In my church the pastors wife had an affair with a church member. The pastors wife was extremely repentant of the event and even resigned from all of her positions of authority within the church body and publically repented and asked forgiveness of her husband and the congregation.
    The pastor forgave his wife with open arms and forgave her as if it had never happened.
    The congregation then turned on the pastor demanding his resignation and eventually drove both the pastor and his wife out of the fold.
    The ironic thing is….the man that the pastors wife had the affair with did not publically repent of the action and was never asked to leave the congregation and is still active in this congregation to this day.

    • Your point is well taken. It’s a trite statement, but it still takes two to tango.

      • Even still – certain states have laws to protect victims of clergy sexual abuse, and no matter who tangoed first, when they tangoed, where or how often, the pastor would be held legally liable and the church could be sued. That alone proves the law takes seriously the power imbalance and seriousness of the abuse.

      • Mary Jo Noworyta says on

        Exactly, Anna. God doesn’t ever say, “it takes two to tango.” Bathsheba was never condemned but was blessed. David was held fully accountable. It is not a correct assessment saying it takes two to tango when a leader uses his/her position of power for self-satisfaction.

        I don’t know why every other profession is aware of the imbalance of power, but not pastors. I don’t understand how the church can allow leaders to abuse their power and be reinstated. God is certainly not in agreement and the reality is, if a church reinstates a leader who betrayed that position, they are now just as responsible as the leader when he harms another member.

        It is so draining and discouraging hearing from pastors who truly believe it is OK to reinstate a pastor after betraying the most sacred trusted position. I think it is partly due to fear of it happening to them. They are afraid to say they should not be restored to leadership because it spares them if they sin sexually.

        Hopefully, more laws will be passed making it a crime for clergy to engage in a relationship with congregants. If the church won’t take action, maybe the legal system will. After all, justice is the foundation of God’s throne.

      • It sounds to me like the law is unbalanced. Do you also believe such pastors are guilty until proven innocent? That doesn’t sound like justice to me. It sounds more like a high-tech lynching.

      • Serving Kids in Japan says on

        Do you also believe such pastors are guilty until proven innocent?

        When did Anna ever say that?

        It sounds to me like the law is unbalanced.

        Do you feel likewise about similar laws dealing with sexual misconduct by doctors, teachers or therapists? If not, then why should pastors be exempt the legal consequences of betraying trust and taking advantage of parishioners?

      • It should deeply concern people that you are so focused on shifting any amount of blame onto the person who has the affair with the minister. In a nonconsensual relationship or event of any kind, 100% of the blame lies with the predator/abuser. 0% goes to the victim. A minister-congregant relationship is as completely mismatched in terms of power as a parent-child relationship is. There can be no true consent in any relationship that minister has with anybody who attends his or her church.

        Consent means not only the power to say yes, but also the power to say no. That’s something that Christians forget very often. If the other person feels like they can’t tell the person abusing them to stop, then this is a nonconsensual relationship.

        Christians like you are the ones who tell rape victims that they should have dressed more modestly. It’s abhorrent–and a true sign to me that Christianity is not a valid religion, when its most fervent voices are saying the kind of thing that gets told routinely to victims.

        Stop protecting predators. They get all the blame, all the time, and there’s no other way about it.

  • A really good article, Thom. All points valid and needed to be said.

    If you’re wondering if there is a “but” coming, I won’t disappoint you. There is. Without taking away from any of the compassionate aspects of your article I wish you had balanced it with just how serious the sin is of one who has engaged in sexual sin as a Pastor. It’s more than just a “moral failure”. Sexual Sin throughout the Bible has always been portrayed with gravity that is not given other “moral failures”.

    We’re not talking about a pastor cheating on his taxes or lying or gossipping or any such thing. Jesus didn’t address any of those things when talking to the church of Thyatira. And we’re not even talking about the common “pew-sitter” engaging in sexual immorality but the Pastor! If Paul has such words as he did in 1st Cor. 5 who apparently was just a congregant, are we to think he – ergo the Holy Spirit – would not have even stronger for the Pastor of that church?

    I’ve written more about that below in reply to another “pastor” so I won’t repeat it here and will leave it to you to see those comments below.

    I’ll end with this and just a short comment about something else I wish you’d addressed that aligns with the above. In the past year I’ve seen at least 3-4 articles in things like the Christian Post, Christian News Network, and other such online publications where some “pastor” has “fallen” due to some sexual immorality. Tullian Tchividjian – twice in the last year, Perry Noble, Clayton Jennings, are 3 that quickly come to mind and then just this week O. Jermaine Simmons, “pastor” of Jacob Chapel Baptist Church in Tallahassee told his congregation that he’s not resigning after literally being actually caught in bed with a member’s wife and fleeing naked from the house. Why is he not resigning? Because according to him, “What I want from God I’ve already received it and that’s His forgiveness.”

    So my point is this. The folks in that congregation need to RUN!! Anyone who stays under that man’s leadership is being foolish and probably made him an idol. Are we to think that God is “filling the hands” of that man with the message for Sunday? Are we to think that man has any fear of the Lord? Are we to think that God is truly being worshipped in that place?

    So yes, by all means do all to forgive and restore those who have fallen due to sin but get rid of the leaven for do you not know that a little leaven leavens the whole loaf?! There needs to be some balance between compassion, grace, and mercy and putting God first! Folks need to be discipled not only in forgiveness and compassion but how to choose what godly leaders they should and will submit to.

    Hope that makes sense.

    • As I told another person on this thread, a pastor who commits sexual sin has violated a very sacred trust. Is it ever possible for him to return to ministry? Maybe, but only after he’s taken some serious steps of repentance. That includes resigning from his current ministry and spending at least a couple of years (maybe longer) rebuilding the broken trust. When a pastor commits such a grievous sin and refuses to resign, I have to question whether he’s truly repentant.

      • Thank you Ken, for recognizing the impact a pastor or other spiritual leader does when he uses his position to have sex with members of his church that he is called to protect. John MacArthur has a great article, although I don’t use the term ‘affair’ but abuse of power, because that is what it is. I also work with victims of clergy abuse and the damage is extensive. The betrayal is like no other. Here’s the article.


      • I agree that a pastor who leads a church member bears a greater blame, but I don’t necessarily agree that the person with whom he has the affair is 100% innocent.

      • Ken what would you say if a therapist pursued a relationship with a client? There are laws that state a relationship between them would considered abuse of power, even if the client sought out the relationship. It is no different with a pastor. He holds a sacred trust, which comes with the responsibility to maintain proper boundaries at all times, even if a congregant pursued him. His office charges him with the responsibility to resist such advances (were that the case) and most certainly to NEVER seek out a relationship with a congregant. It is pastoral abuse in every context. Ignorance of this power dynamic is what perpetuates clergy sex abuse in churches, because people fail to see where the responsibility lies – which is always with the pastor. He is not ‘just a man’ like anyone else. He is held to higher judgment (James 3:11) because of his position of power and influence. Countless women (and men) have been marginalized and shamed because their pastor failed to maintain proper boundaries and CHOSE to enter into a relationship with them.

      • Ken, when a leader pursues a member of his congregation who is wounded and vulnerable, he is 100% responsible. 100%. It is taught in college ethics courses and should be taught in seminaries.

        Please read information on the abuse of power at thehopeofsurvivors.com and listen to speakers such as Diane Langberg who talks a lot on this issue.

        Even if a woman seduces a pastor, which is extremely unlikely, he should run as Joseph did. If he cannot stand up under sexual temptation, he is not qualified to be a pastor.

        Do you blame a child when they are sexually abused? When victims of clergy abuse are harmed, it is because of a past pain or current stress in their lives. When Jesus said it is better to have a milestone tied around his neck and he be thrown into the lake, he was talking about those who made these ‘little ones’ sin. He is talking about the vulnerable, not simply the physical age of a person.

        Lastly, look at David and Bathsheba and notice that she was never blamed for the abuse caused to her. Her son died but as a direct result of David’s sin, not hers because she didn’t di anything except obey the king’s command to enter his court. When David was confronted by the prophet Nathan, he described as taking the poor man’s lamb. She was taken. David was completely to blame and he suffered the remainder of his days as a result. Bathsheba was blessed.

        I pray that God opens your eyes to the extreme damage caused by clergy who use their positions of power when they have sex with members of their church during the week and get up and preach on Sunday. God’s Kingdom is greatly harmed.

      • “Do you blame a child when they are sexually abused?”

        Here are my exact words: “I agree that a pastor who leads a church member bears a greater blame, but I don’t necessarily agree that the person with whom he has the affair is 100% innocent.” It takes TWO to have an affair. What part of that do you not understand? You’re no better than people who blamed women for adultery but let the men off the hook.

        As for you, Mary Jo, you sound like little more than an ax-grinder. I do not like melodrama or proof-texting, and you’re resorting to both. I advise you to take the log out of your own eye before you try to remove the splinter from mine.

      • I have found that men or women who are truly grieved horrified and deeply repentant rarely ever seek reinstatement. They are focused on their wife or husband, their children, and usually in long term counseling to understand the why behind their self destruction. They grasp the horrible impact of their choices and often spend years learning to trust themselves.
        I would strongly question any pastor or lay leader who plays the forgiveness card.
        That is pure manipulation.

    • Royce, you mentioned Tullian so I wanted so share this statement if you haven’t yet seen it. It was created and signed by Boz, Tullian’s brother who started a ministry to help victims of childhood sexual abuse. It’s really good and is a call to the church to recognize abuse of power and gives action steps to create a safer church environment as well as asks the church to provide victim support, which is sadly, missing on this site. Here’s the statement:


  • As a layperson at a church where the Senior Pastor left after a moral failure, I’d have one suggestion. Avoid an overreaction. After that pastor left , we opted for a Pastor that was theologically right, but was not able to relate to the members. Result a church split when the inevitable disagreements surfaced. By not dealing with the initial hurt, we primed the proverbial bomb. So don’t overlook the hurting membership.

  • Dr. Rainer
    I came to a church that asked her previous pastor to step down due to moral failure. It is my understanding that this was not the first pastor to have done this at this church. This may have been the third time over the last twenty years that a pastor committed moral failure here. I’m on year six here. I can say it is hard to come in and restore trust in the office. It is such a devastation to both the church and the minister’s family that I can see why Satan attacks so hard.

  • Pastor Rod says on

    Wow, thanks for the article. I am a young Pastor who have been disturb by these immoral behavior among leaders who preach and declare faith in the power of the cross. Profession and practice should go hand in hand. Further, what the Bible says about those who qualify for leadership 1Timothy 3; Titus 1; 2 Timothy 2:2 must always be the governing factor. At times and not every time a person’s gifting are elevated about character, such that weaknesses though noted are never confronted. In Paul discourse to Timothy He focus heavily on character and less on gifting, was this a coincidence? The message of the Gospel is not only about positional change before God but heart/character change as one leads, love and live in loving submission with God the Holy Spirit.
    Leaders it is imperative we practice what we preach especially having authentic quality time with God in prayer, fasting, meditation, confession within community and being accountable to someone. Studying cannot only be for preaching and teaching but our own change!
    Concerning reconciliation, it is something churches have fail to practice compassionately. Nevertheless, leaders must acknowledge when they are wrong and step down willingly until they have dealt with their struggles. They must take responsibility for their decision, and be open for help from others as a means of grace to ensure that which God has willed for their life be fully accomplished. Peter deny Christ yet Christ still wanted to use Him, Samson in his total disregard for the will of God was once again strengthen in keeping with God’s will to bring about the defeat of the enemies of God. David though magnify as a man after God’s own heart also drifted and though it came with consequences, God still favor Him to bring Christ through His lineage. What am I saying?
    There is still hope for these men who have fail, but they and we must realize that and be willing to position ourselves so that whatever decision is made brings honor to God. Matt. 5:16

    • Please be aware, as a pastor, that you are 100% responsible to keep healthy boundaries between yourself and your congregation. My goodness, I have a degree in social work and it was highly stressed that all helping professions are completely responsible to keep healthy boundaries between ourselves and those we serve. When you add a spiritual dimension, it is even more damaging when that trust is broken.

      In your examples, you forgot to mention that David’s life was filled with death and bloodshed after he abused his power, his own son attempting to kill him. You also didn’t mention Moses who was forbidden from entering the promised land after he disobeyed God’s direct order. And don’t forget Ezekiel 34 where God talks about shepherds who feed themselves. He calls such leaders His enemies and He removes them from power.

      It is vital to know that there are a lot of wounded and vulnerable people in your church. If you want, you have the power to manipulate every person in your church. There is a power imbalance between clergy and congregants. There is never a consensual relationship between the two.

      Many lives have been severely damaged by spiritual leaders who sought to satisfy their own needs, ignoring the flock they are called to serve. Survivor stories can be found at

      It breaks my heart that most comments on this site have totally ignored the person most harmed in these situations, the victim.

      • Pastor Rod says on

        Thanks for your input and feedback, I really appreciate the comments. In stating my examples they were to support that God can use individually after failure. And as I stress throughout my comment leaders must take responsible for their actions before and after failure. Further, as I pointed out a lot of attention and praise usually are given to leaders’ gifting in their initial stages of development but it appears that character development is ignore. I wonder if we practice strict accountability with a senior Pastor/leader and fellow colleagues to help monitor those who profess a call to leadership will it help leaders avoid these pitfalls? As a young pastor I believe it is important to begin early to monitor the way persons handle power, praise, criticism and their past when given responsibility. As things can go undetected or again ignore because of the talent and “anointing”. I remember being ask to conduct some services for a church of a well known Pastor. After the service one evening I reached out to some young females to inquire about a friend who came the first night with clean motives. Thereafter, the senior Pastor who was monitoring my every move inquire about the encounter with the young females and warn me not to make myself too comfortable around females. It can send the wrong message and damage one’s witness. Those words stayed with me, as I came to notice that the senior Pastor was encouraging me to establish healthy boundaries, “lest I become a castaway.”

        So leaders need mentors and accountability partners no matter their experience or apparent “success”. Absolute power as someone reminded me corrupts. Lets keep each other in prayer so that God’s will be done in and through leaders who are determined to live blameless lives before God in private and public!

      • Nell Parker says on

        Great comment! Everyone mentions Bathsheba and David’s forgiveness. Few mention the pain in his life afterwards.

        Thank you for pushing back on the *affair* aspect of this. Victims are almost always shunned and ignored by the church.

  • Brian Owyoung says on

    What about the person the Pastor had an affair with. How should the church deal with that person especially if that person is a church member. I think often times that person is ignored. Maybe no one addresses that person’s pain.

    • Brian, I am the Victim Support Coordinator with The Hope of Survivors and I will tell you that most often, the victim is ignored, shunned, and blamed. My heart is breaking as I read the comments on this site. Let me share just a few stories to show you how traumatic it is.

      One woman after her pastor led her into a sexual relationship felt convicted of her sin. (We call this an abuse of power, not an affair and place full responsibility on the one in power who is 100% to blame for breaking boundaries). This woman went to an elder in their church who was told it is her religious duty to keep quiet. She is forbidden from stepping on church property. The abuser? He still holds a job paid by church funds.

      Another woman was sexually assaulted by an elder in her church. After telling her pastor, the elder was placed on a 6 month ‘restoration’ period. He stood in the doorway of the class she taught Sunday school, smirking at her. He was placed back into his elder role. The victim? She had to leave her country and come to the US. She is doing well, but had a long road to find some healing.

      Women hold little to no power in many churches. We are not able to be elders or pastors. We are not involved in major decision making. Yet, when we are pursued by our spiritual leaders at a time of vulnerability, we are told we should have been strong enough to fight off our perpetrator.

      It is traumatic to be led into a sexual relationship with your pastor. Most victims cannot attend church again, read their Bibles, or pray. There are eternal consequences at stake. I am passionate about this because the church should be a place of safety and healing for all but it is not. It is unsafe for the wounded and vulnerable if they enter the doors of a self-proclaimed pastor who is out to satisfy his own desires.

  • Mary A. Witt says on

    Good article. As a licensed Marriage and Family Therapist, I would add that every church needs to have staff training in guarding their marriages. There are so many little things that occur along the way before an actual affair happens.

    • Mary, I just read a study about client/therapist relationships saying 90% of clients who have sex with their therapist are harmed. I’m disturbed by the term ‘affair’ that needs to change to abuse of power. I have a degree in Social Work and it was highly stressed that anyone in a helping profession is 100% responsible to keep healthy boundaries between themselves and those they serve. After I was abused by my pastor, several licensed therapists, including my brother, told me my pastor is 100% responsible. They told me that because of the imbalance of power, there can never be consent and that it is an abuse of power.

      A pastor holds the most sacred, trusted position. I am having difficulty understanding why they are not held accountable when they have sex with a congregant. A leader should never use their position to self satisfy.

      Thank you,
      Survivor of Pastoral Sexual Abuse