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Fallen Pastor Radio Interview With Hagmann & Hagmann

I had a teriffic interview with the Hagmann &  Hagmann Report. We spoke about my book and about the gospel. The link is here for the full program, but I’m in the second hour, starting around the 65 minute mark. Hope you’ll check it out. You can click the link to listen online or go to...

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“You Can’t Unscramble The Egg”

Posted by Ray Carroll | Posted in adultery, consequences, pastors, prevention | Posted on 16-07-2014

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I just can’t believe one indiscretion has led to all of this. I’m about to lose my wife, my family and my ministry.eggs4

His voice was panicked. I could tell he would give anything to go back and undo his sin, but he couldn’t. I had talked to hundreds of pastors in his situation. He had been caught, his wife knew, the church knew. He had been caught up in a series of emotions and a relationship that had spiraled out of control.

Like most relationships pastors get into outside of their marriage, it starts so small they don’t even see the trouble coming. They don’t see that they are emotionally troubled. Things begin to happen and then they begin with emotional adultery, then they may or may  not cross the physical line.

I remember the first time I heard the line, You can’t unscramble the egg. I was 13. I was hooked on John MacArthur sermons. My parents had a treasure trove of his sermons and I had become part of the cassette tape lending service. It was a sermon on “Divorce and Remarriage.”

MacArthur is one of those guys who is so black and white. And I remember when he got to talking about what people should do when someone is divorced, remarried and there is no chance for reconciliation. That’s when I first heard the term. He wasn’t condoning any sin. He was doing his best to describe the situation when a line has been crossed and you can’t put things back together.

That’s the line that pastors cross when they commit emotional or physical adultery. There’s no going back. That’s why I can’t tell guys enough, “Don’t do it. Once you cross over, there’s no going back and undoing all the damage.

“You can’t unsqueeze the lemon”

I’ll get a call from a pastor once in a while who will ask, “But no one but me knows. No one but me and the woman I was with. It will just hurt my wife if I tell her. It will tear the church apart. Won’t I just be doing worse damage if I let others know about this?

lemonsThere’s dangerous thinking here. The problem with it is that it sounds good on the surface. It sounds noble – like we’re trying to save people from being hurt. See, I’ve been in that situation so I know what’s really going on. What we’re really trying to do is save face. We’ve committed sin and we don’t want to get caught. Why? Because we stand to lose everything. (I have blogged about this before in a couple of different articles that you should read if you haven’t before.)

The other side of it is that we are trying to conceal sin. God doesn’t stand for concealing sin. All sin will be brought to daylight. We can’t hide any of it. Ask King David.

The best thing any of us can do is start telling the truth. But that’s not exactly easy, is it? Because for months, we’ve been practicing lies. We’ve been practicing deceit. We’ve been hiding emails, text messages, secret meetings and doing a pretty good job at it. And when we get caught, our first instinct is to keep lying. But the best thing to do is to start telling the truth. And it’s hard. It’s gut wrenching. But it’s the best policy.

“You can’t unbite the cookie”

The answer to a multitude of deceit is not more deceit. Pastors should know this. When we were pastors and someone came to us and said, “I’ve been lying about something.” What would our counsel be? It would be, “You need to start telling the truth.

See, we know the Scriptures, that’s why it’s so hard to talk to ministers so often. John 8:32 tells us a very serious

Image courtesy of thegunnysack.com

Image courtesy of thegunnysack.com

truth: “You shall know the truth and the truth shall make you free.

It’s very difficult when we have dug such a deep hole and find ourselves at the bottom of it. When telling the truth means hurting those we love, losing the job we have fought for, finding disgrace, being embarrassed, and knowing that we have forsaken the calling of God.

But I’m going to shed some light here. God desires repentance. When we walk in sin, He wants us to return. Christ does value us, He loves us greatly and loves us deeply.

Telling the truth will be hard, it will make others hurt, but the lemon has been squeezed, the damage has already been done. It’s now a matter of deciding to repent and trust God in all things. Knowing that when He says He will restore us back to Him, He really means it.

Other helpful articles:

Think Twice Before You Commit Adultery” from The Good News Presbyterian Church

How to Confess Adultery to Your Spouse” by Dr. Don Dunlap, Pastoral Counselor

How Can I Heal My Marriage After Committing Adultery?” by John Piper

What Happens When the Worship Leader Commits Adultery?” by Roger Barrier

*Thanks to thegunnysack.com for the picture – it worked perfectly for the blog picture. The blog is run by Tonia who has all kinds of recipes and other great stuff. I ran across the pic doing an image search for what I needed for this blog post. The recipes there look great. That picture was for Ice Cream Filled Chocolate Chip Cookie Bites.

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Ray Carroll is the author of “Fallen Pastor: Finding Restoration in a Broken World,” which answers many of the questions I get asked on a weekly basis.

If you are a fallen pastor who needs to talk or you are someone who has been affected by a fallen pastor and would like to contact me privately, please click here. You are the main reason this ministry exists. I’m here to help you.

If you are a church, men’s group, association, conference, or news outlet and would like more information about this ministry, please click here.

5 Things Christians Can Do When A Pastor Falls

Posted by Ray Carroll | Posted in adultery, church members, fallenness, help, pastors | Posted on 09-07-2014

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reachingoutWhat should a church member do when a pastor’s sin is uncovered? The pastor’s sin could be anything ranging from adultery to embezzling. I’ve put together a few quick questions someone should ask in reference to a pastor’s sin and their own struggle with the issues.

1. How will I and my family react long term and short term? When a pastor falls or sins and is dismissed, the church member and each family typically goes through a difficult time that is similar to the grief cycle one encounters after losing a loved one. Each family and church member needs to prepare for this struggle and look for support in Christ, their church family and possibly counseling.

2. How will our church as a whole react? How will our church leadership react? The church as a whole will often follow the reaction of the leadership. Leadership needs input from the congregation, so encourage them to handle the situation in a Scriptural manner. Also, share with them the need to ask for help from other churches or church leaders if they feel they are not able to make a clear decision.

“On top of everything, think of this: ‘One day, I may very well fall. How would I want people to care for me?’”

3. How will we as a church react directly to the pastor? In other words, if his sin warrants that he resign, he is still to be treated as a brother in Christ. Some follow up questions might be, “How will our reaction to him impact our church now and years later? Is how we are treating him on a personal level Scriptural? Will it impact future decisions we make?”

4. Regardless of what the church leadership decides, what will I choose to do in relationship to the pastor? Or, how will I choose to treat the fallen pastor? Many people may choose to judge the pastor or cut ties with him personally. But we are all responsible for how we react. How are we to treat those who sin? Even if they disappoint us greatly? Going along with the crowd mentality is easy, but taking a stand for what is right is always difficult. Take time, pray, and study Scripture to make the right decisions.

5. Pray for him. After I fell, I heard through the grapevine that one of my former deacons had trouble praying for me. He said it took him a long time before he was able to think positively enough of me to say a prayer for me. That is absolutely understandable. Do your best. On top of everything, think of this: “One day, I may very well fall. How would I want people to care for me?

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Ray Carroll is the author of “Fallen Pastor: Finding Restoration in a Broken World,” which answers many of the questions I get asked on a weekly basis.

If you are a fallen pastor who needs to talk or you are someone who has been affected by a fallen pastor and would like to contact me privately, please click here. You are the main reason this ministry exists. I’m here to help you.

If you are a church, men’s group, association, conference, or news outlet and would like more information about this ministry, please click here.

4 Factors That Lead To Ministry Failure

Posted by Ray Carroll | Posted in adultery, church, church members, fallenness, pastors | Posted on 07-07-2014

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fallenWhen a pastor falls morally, it is a devastating event. It is an affront to God, it harms many relationships, it violates the marriage vow, and leaves many disillusioned people in its wake. I know, because almost five years ago, I committed adultery while pastoring.

When it happens, people want to know, “Why did he do it? What was he thinking?I want to list four reasons that will help those looking for answers.

Before I do, I want to make a couple of important remarks. First, the question, “Why did he commit adultery?” is a complex question that requires a complex answer. There’s not going to be an answer that gives anyone complete satisfaction. When I wrote a book where I interviewed other fallen pastors, I was able to identify factors that led to moral failure. But even knowing these things doesn’t bring complete comfort.

It’s also important to know that these points aren’t an excuse or justification for adultery. The ultimate answer for “why do we fall short?” is “because we are sinful people who disobey God.” At some point, when a pastor begins to take his eyes off of God and makes a conscious choice to fall into temptation, the sin is his to own. Sin is behind each of these problems listed below. These are factors that lead up to that point. For more discussions of these points, please search my blog or check out my book.

1. Isolation - Many pastors do not have a strong support system. A lot of pastors don’t even have a close friend. The Fuller Institute reported in a study that 70% of pastors said they did not have someone they considered a close friend. In the ministry, having close friends you can share things with and be accountable to is extremely important. Forming a network of fellow pastors, mentors, and counselors who can help you through tough times is paramount to ministry survival.

It’s also important to know that these points aren’t an excuse or justification for adultery. The ultimate answer for ‘why do we fall short?’ is ‘because we are sinful people who disobey God.’ At some point, when a pastor begins to take his eyes off of God and makes a conscious choice to fall into temptation, the sin is his to own.”

2. Poor Marriage Relationship – I know a lot of pastors who have a wonderful relationship with their spouse and family. I’m also involved in this ministry now to help pastors who are in trouble, fallen pastors, their wives, women who have had affairs with pastors, and church leaders and members. I’ve learned that there are many troubled ministry marriages out there. A Francis Schaeffer Institute of Church Leadership study reported that 77% of pastors said they did not have a good marriage. The same report said that 30% of them reported they had either been in an ongoing affair or a one-time sexual encounter with a parishoner. A poor marriage is one of the strongest indicators that ministry failure is imminent.

3. Overly High ExpectationsI recently wrote a blog about high expectations. Pastors should have high expectations. They have normal expectations for carrying out their job duties. They should be expected to have high moral character. But there are times when churches can expect too much. The Schaeffer report I quoted said that 71% stated they were burned out and they battle depression beyond fatigue on a weekly and even a daily basis. Extreme expectations can come from within or without, but if failure is to be prevented, communication must take place between the pastor and the leadership.

4. Judgmentalism/Pride – A lot of pastors who fall have a big problem with either judgmentalism and/or pride. The problem of judmentalism is not that the pastor understands what sin is and recognizes it. It is when he angrily demands control over every situation in a heavy-handed manner and without grace. Prideful pastors are those who demand their way and will rarely listen to counsel. The pulpit and position of pastor build them up and make them feel important instead of humble.

This ministry exists to help anyone who has experienced failure, or anyone on the brink of it. No matter who you are and how you’ve been affected, we will listen. You may feel broken and alone, but you’re not.

*All statistics can be found in my book.

Other helpful articles:

Why Pastors Fall Into Sin,” by Jack Frost

7 Steps to Avoid Sexual Sin and Stay in Ministry,” by Dustin Neeley

5 Reasons Ministers Are (More) Vulnerable to Sexual Temptation,” by Jeff Fisher

Seven Warning Signs of Affairs for Pastors and Other Church Staff,” by Thom S. Rainer

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Ray Carroll is the author of “Fallen Pastor: Finding Restoration in a Broken World,” which answers many of the questions I get asked on a weekly basis.

If you are a fallen pastor who needs to talk or you are someone who has been affected by a fallen pastor and would like to contact me privately, please click here. You are the main reason this ministry exists. I’m here to help you.

If you are a church, men’s group, association, conference, or news outlet and would like more information about this ministry, please click here.

God’s Punishment vs. Consequences of Sin

Posted by Ray Carroll | Posted in adultery, consequences, forgiveness, God, guilt, punishment, sin | Posted on 30-06-2014

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This is a heavy post.

Let me start it with an example from the life of a fallen pastor. This is a real question I’ve been asked, and asked myself. godpunishAs a fallen pastor, after I’ve been forgiven of my adultery, will God continue to punish me for the sin I’ve committed? Will He bring horrible calamities my way (cancer, sickness to my children) in the form of punishment as well as me facing the normal consequences of my sin (church people being angry, child support, pastors who ignore me, etc.)?

They are two different things to be considered. God’s punishment for our sin and the consequences for our sin. When I counsel fallen pastors or women who have been with fallen pastors, these are two things that come up in conversation very frequently.

Honestly, it took me a long time to come to a biblical answer on my own, so please bear with me. I will quote Scripture and the work of others in this matter because it is such an important issue.

Consequences

Let’s look at consequences first. When we sin, we own it. It is ours to bear. In Psalm 51, David acknowledged his sin before God after committing adultery with Bathsheba and murdering her husband. He asked for repentance and to be clean before God. This is so important for any Christian who has sinned. We must come to a place of repentance before God. Our sin is against God. We must answer to Him for what we have done.

Let’s liken it to a courtroom. Let’s say we have been brought before a judge for the felony of grand theft auto. We might stand before the judge and say, “Judge, I am guilty of this charge. I repent of my actions and I throw myself upon the mercy of the court.” Does that mean we will get off without a penalty?

It reminds me of the scene in “Oh, Brother Where Art Thou” when Delmar had just been baptized and thought that his baptism had cleared him of all civil wrongdoing, including a Piggly Wiggly he had robbed:

Pete: The preacher said he absolved us.

Everett: For him. Not for the law. I’m surprised at you Pete. I gave you credit for more brains than Delmar.

Delmar: But they was witnesses that seen us redeemed.

Everett: That’s not the issue Delmar. Even if it did put you square with the Lord, the state of Mississippi’s a little more hardnosed.

hammersThe problem is that even though a sinner is repentant, washed clean by Christ, we have to face the consequences of our actions. I know that after I committed adultery, there were many consequences to what I had done that I still face today.

Are those consequences the same as punishment? Here’s a quote from A. W. Pink, courtesy of Eric T. Young:

But while the believer’s sins cannot be punished, while the Christian cannot be condemned (Rom. 8:3), yet he may be chastised. The Christian occupies an entirely different position from the non-Christian: he is a member of the Family of God. The relationship which now exists between him and God is that of parent and child; and as a son he must be disciplined for wrongdoing. Folly is bound up in the hearts of all God’s children, and the rod is necessary to rebuke, to subdue, to humble.

When we lie, there will be consequences. When we gossip, consequences will come. When we commit any type of sin, there will be God-wrought consequences. They are a form of discipline. They may last long after we repent. We reap what we sow, friends. And when we do, the best thing we can do is to meet those consequences face to face with grace and humility, knowing that we cause the initial calamity, praying that overcoming the consequences will bring about glory to God in our sanctification.

Punishment

What about punishment? Over the years, I’ve heard a lot of fallen people say, “I’ve repented of my sin, but I can’t help but think that my newborn child died because of my adultery,” or “I repented, but my new business/ministry failed because God was judging me because of my past sin. Is He still punishing me?”

I can’t give you a clear answer to every question, but I can turn to the Scriptures and help guide you along.

The best guideline is Romans 8:1-2, “There is therefore now no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus. For the law of the Spirit of life has set you free in Christ Jesus from the law of sin and death.” But we must realize that for this promise is for those who repent. Christians who live in a constant state of disobedience and unrepentance are in a difficult place.

Romans 6 tells us of the life we live free from sin and also the life lived within sin: “But now that you have been set free from sin and have become slaves of God, the fruit you get leads to sanctification and its end, eternal life. For the wages of sin is death, but the free gift of God is eternal life in Christ Jesus our Lord.” (Romans 6:22-23 ESV)

Unrepentant sin leads to punishment. Scripture is clear on that. It is punishment plus consequences. The beauty of it all is that when we confess our sin and turn from it, God casts that sin as far as the east is from the west and remembers it no eastwestmore (Psalm 103:12). We still have to deal with the earthly consequences of our sin. That is the hole we have dug for ourselves. But we are free from the punishment that sin brings to bear upon us.

What are we to do? If you’re a fallen pastor, or a sinner who is living continually in sin, repent. Cast off that sin by confessing it to God. Find someone close to you with whom you can be accountable to and with whom you can share this with. You will need support and mentoring. Do no do this alone. Do not stand under the punishment of God.

Next, after you have repented, understand that you are free. God has forgiven you. When tragedy strikes, it is not the hand of God reaching down to punish you for your previous sins. He has cast that sin away. There may be consequences for your sin for a long time – people treating you poorly, financial payments, broken relationships – but know that horrible events in your life are not acts of God reaching out to punish you for past sins.

Once you have repented and have been forgiven, you are forgiven. Isaiah 43:25, “I, even I, am he who blots out your transgressions, for my own sake, and remembers your sins no more.” Isaiah 1:18, “Come now, let us reason together,” says the LORD. “Though your sins are like scarlet, they shall be as white as snow; though they are red as crimson, they shall be like wool.”

To tie it up with a personal example, when I committed adultery as a pastor, I was not repentant. I was therefore, under the divine judgment of God. He was free to punish me – He was my Heavenly Father and I was His follower. I was way out of line and not following His commands. My own actions and behaviors were enough punishment, but He was free to punish me further.

When I repented of my sins (under the divine influence of His Spirit), He forgave me of my sin. At that moment, my sin was forgiven. Were the consequences of my adultery gone? No. I still had many people who were upset with me, many broken relationships, and a long road of restoration ahead. The consequences still surround me today because of the sin I committed. But God is with me as I travel down that road, working all things together for His glory.

You are forgiven when you turn to God and repent. Consequences may follow, but they are not the same as divine punishment. Face the consequences with grace and take each day with a step toward the holiness of God, knowing “after you have suffered a little while, the God of all grace, who has called you to his eternal glory in Christ, will himself restore, confirm, strengthen, and establish you.” 1 Peter 5:10.

Other helpful articles:

The Judgments: Past, Present, and Future – J. Hampton Keathley III (while I do not completely agree with his eschatology, his insights to this present topic are astounding)

Punishment vs. Consequence – Tony J. Alicea, Living in the Tension

What’s the Difference Between Punishment, Consequences, Discipline, Training, and Instruction – Brad Hambrick

Does God Punish Us When We Sin? – God Questions.org

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Ray Carroll is the author of “Fallen Pastor: Finding Restoration in a Broken World,” which answers many of the questions I get asked on a weekly basis.

If you are a fallen pastor who needs to talk or you are someone who has been affected by a fallen pastor and would like to contact me privately, please click here. You are the main reason this ministry exists. I’m here to help you.

If you are a church, men’s group, association, conference, or news outlet and would like more information about this ministry, please click here.

 

Fallen Pastors: Three Very Common Questions

Posted by Ray Carroll | Posted in adultery, affair, brokenness, church, church leadership, fallenness, humillity, ministry, pastors, repentance, restoration | Posted on 27-06-2014

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I love helping (and am always more than happy to help) anyone who contacts me through this fallingministry, but I am closest to the messed up, confused world of the freshly fallen pastor. And it is a horrible place to be. I tell fallen pastors, “No one really understands fallen ministers like a fellow fallen minister.”

One of the most confusing things for people on the outside looking in is the messed up morality of a fallen pastor. Here’s the deal – when a guy has committed adultery for a while and hasn’t been caught, he’s not thinking clearly or biblically. And when he gets caught, he’s going to try to justify and excuse his behavior any way he can. Often, he will use Scripture to justify his sin. I tried it. It even sounded good to me at the time. But it was wrong.

To everyone else, it sounds rotten. It is rotten. That’s why I always tell people to be kind and patient with a fallen pastor. Don’t let him twist the truth, but do show him compassion. Understand that he is going to come around eventually. He is living the life of the prodigal son – one day he’s going to wake up and smell the pig droppings. And when he does, he’s going to need people who care about him.

I want to answer a couple of the most frequently messed up questions I get from fallen pastors today (I introduced this issue in my last post). The answers will seem pretty obvious. But that’s just it – when you’re waist deep in the crud of sin, the answers aren’t obvious because we aren’t looking for truth.

You know what’s even more troubling? I get these same questions from church leaders who want to ignore the sin of their pastor because they don’t want the church’s reputation to suffer damage. They would rather hide the pastor’s affair (even though his wife knows), tell the woman he had an affair with to move on (because she’s usually a church member or member of the staff) and sweep it under the rug so that the church isn’t traumatized. I’m just gonna tell you that a decision like that always comes back to haunt a church and those involved.

quesr2So here are the most common messed up questions I get – questions I even considered when I wasn’t thinking clearly when I was mired in my sin.

1. “God has forgiven me, so why do I need to tell the church/my wife what I’ve done?”

God is a God of forgiveness. That is clear. He does cast our sin as far as the east is from the west. I am thankful for the amazing grace that God has shown to us by His Son Jesus Christ.

I blogged a little about this question before but want to give the response clearly again. If you are a church leader and you have committed adultery, you should ask God for forgiveness. But you also have a duty to tell your church and leaders.

When you were hired, voted in, appointed by a council – you were given the position of head elder/pastor and expected to fulfill the duties of 1 Timothy 3:1-13. Those people put their trust in you. They expected you to be faithful to your calling and be a person above reproach. When we commit a major sin, we violate their trust. When we violate their trust, we need to let them know and we have come under church discipline.

The same goes for our spouse. We took a vow. And even if we commit “emotional adultery,” there is something wrong in our marriage that needs to be fixed right away. If it doesn’t get fixed, we are going to do it again. Our spouse deserves to know that we violated our vow and that we have become vulnerable to sin.

2. “I committed adultery/had an emotional affair with a woman in the church. sorrycoupIt’s okay if she stays at the same church as I do, right?”

When guys ask me this question, I know a couple of things. First, they are in trouble spiritually and morally. They are not thinking clearly. Why? Because they think they are/or may actually be in love with the woman they are having an affair with. They cannot stand being apart from her. They don’t want to be away from her.

Second, if at this point a pastor has “only” admitted to an “emotional affair” and he asks this question – I can almost bank on the fact that he has crossed the line into the physical but he’s just not being forthcoming about it.

The big problem is this – if a man has been caught and he’s saying all the “right” things like, “I know I’ve sinned and I want to make things right with my wife.” But his actions are saying, “I still want to be around this woman and I’m still texting her and talking to her,” then what he’s saying and what he’s doing are two different things. He’s not repentant. He’s still trapped.

Listen carefully though. I have a tremendous amount of concern for the woman the pastor has been involved with. I think churches should have the same amount of concern, especially if she is a member or a part of the staff.

Back to the issue at hand. Pastor, if you have committed adultery and you want your marriage to work out, you’ve got to distance yourself permanently from the person you were with. End of story. On top of that, you have to be transparent for a long time with your wife about your cell phone, email, Facebook and anything else you have passwords on. Give her access to everything. It’s freedom. It one step back towards trust.

repenta3. “I’ll be okay pretty quick, right? I won’t be out the ministry very long.”

When you get caught, what you need is to be restored to Christ. Something went wrong. Lots of somethings. I write about it on this blog and in my book. Those things need to be fixed before any kind of ministry can ever happen again. A life of brokenness and humility need to occur while God restores you.

This doesn’t happen overnight. It doesn’t happen in a few weeks. If you’re lucky, it might happen in a year. It happens in God’s timing.

But when you’re honest about your sin and how you came to it, God will be longsuffering and will heal your heart. It’s not easy being honest, but it is rewarding. It’s tough, but it is the narrow road for those who want peace.

Want to leave a comment? Click the “keep reading” button and join the conversation.

Other helpful links:

Sexual Sin in the Ministry” by Harry Schaumburg, Desiring God Ministries

Pastors on Moral Failures in Church Leadership: Don’t Hide It” by Lillian Kwon, Christian Post

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Ray Carroll is the author of “Fallen Pastor: Finding Restoration in a Broken World,” which answers many of the questions I get asked on a weekly basis.

If you are a fallen pastor who needs to talk or you are someone who has been affected by a fallen pastor and would like to contact me privately, please click here. You are the main reason this ministry exists. I’m here to help you.

If you are a church, men’s group, association, conference, or news outlet and would like more information about this ministry, please click here.

SBC President Fred Luter: Help for Fallen Pastors

Posted by Ray Carroll | Posted in adultery, fallenness, Fred Luter, interview, pastors, southern baptist | Posted on 11-06-2014

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fluter6The Southern Baptist Convention is taking place this week in Baltimore and with it, the final week of Pastor Fred Luter as President. So, I’m reposting the interview I had with him a couple of months ago. I had a great meeting with him and he showed his concern about fallen pastors. This is part two and I encourage you to read both parts. I pray for Pastor Luter as he continues his ministry.

Here’s part two of my interview with Pastor Fred Luter, current president of the Southern Baptist Convention. Make sure you check out part one before you pick up here. We covered all kinds of topics.

In the second half, we talk about what should happen to pastors who commit adultery, whether churches are properly equipped to handle the fall of a pastor, how pastors can be restored, and part of Pastor Luter’s own personal journey.

Fallen Pastors, Restoration, and How the Church Can Manage It

Ray Carroll: I believe there’s a moment when a pastor has forfeit his right to be the shepherd of his congregation.

Fred Luter: I believe that too. I’m not saying he can’t do anything. But he’s not fit to shepherd the people.

RC: Whether it’s an African-American church, or a Caucasian church that kicks a guy to the curb or gets a guy six months of counseling, everyone seems to be handling it differently. Six months of counseling isn’t going to fix what’s wrong with your heart, you know?

FL: That’s right.

RC: I believe when a man falls, it’s because there’s something wrong with your relationship with God and there’s something wrong with your relationship with your wife. And it’s going to take a whole lot longer than six months to fix both of those things.

FL: I agree with that. I’m on the same page as you.

RC: Churches are ill-equipped, rather, they don’t even know where to go where to look when their pastor falls. Whether it’s a Caucasian church or an African-American church, they most often don’t know where to go for help.

FL: I like the statement you made that when a brother falls, he’s not ready to be a senior pastor. See, that’s the problem in many of our African-American churches. Many of our churches, we didn’t have staff members. The pastor was the head honcho. We had associate ministers who were volunteers or bi-vocational. An African-American church, if the pastor isn’t there, it’s going to crumble. It’s going to fall because we depend so much on that person.

I think if there were more opportunities in the African-American church for preachers who fall and they can still be used in other positions other than senior pastor, I don’t think the damage would be as bad.

RC: I agree. I’ve seen guys who say, “I shouldn’t be pastoring right now. I need to be restored.” And when I say restored, I don’t mean to ministry, I mean to Christ. They need to get their life right with Christ before they start thinking about a return to ministry. I think if they do that, there’s a chance for them for a return to some sort of ministry. And whatever form of ministry they return to, that’s not up to me, that’s up to God.

“I’ll never forget when I started running for the position of Southern Baptist president, I started getting calls from all over the country from white media asking, ‘Why in the world does a black man want to be president of the Southern Baptist Convention?‘”

I believe what you’re saying is absolutely right. Galatians 6:1 says to “restore such a one.”

FL: Exactly. And that’s the problem with a lot of our brothers in the body of Christ. They don’t look at that Scripture. It says, “restore,” it doesn’t say “kick them to the curb.” I know you’ve heard the saying that the church are the only ones who shoot our own wounded. I know you’ve seen it personally and seen it other places. Where is the restoration? And it’s a problem.

And your ministry and I appreciate what you’re doing and the ministry Johnny Hunt has for fallen ministers. Johnny has helped a lot of pastors. We can’t just kick these guys to the curb. What if Moses had been kicked to the curb? Or David?

So somewhere, somehow, we’ve got to look at how we deal with a fallen brother or a fallen sister and the ultimate goal is that there needs to be restoration.

RC: We have a battle of extremes in many of our churches when it comes to fallen pastors. We either let him stay where he is without seriously dealing with his sin or we kick him out, which is saying, “If you sin, we’re done with you.” Instead, we should be saying, “When you sin, there is grace and restoration back to Christ for the repentant sinner.” What a model of restoration that is for the body of Christ to witness.

High Expectations for Church Leaders

FL: I think the problem lies in that we tend to feel that because of a pastor’s position that they should know better. But we’re human just like fluter8anyone else. I tell that to people at my church all the time, “I have marital issues just like you do, we have financial issues just like you do, and many nights I’ve slept on the sofa.” I’m very transparent with my congregation.

Yes, I’m in a position of leadership, but I’m a human just like you are. I have the same struggles and issues that you do. That’s why you need to keep me in your prayers. But when I do mess up, don’t say, “Well you should know better, you’re the pastor.” That’s the problem we have in a lot of our churches. We’ve put this guy on some kind of pedestal. And when they do fall how we deal with them is very inappropriate.

RC: That’s one of the factors I found when I interviewed pastors for my book that can weaken men to a dangerous point was overly high expectations. I also found that pastors have more unrealistic expectations for themselves than anyone else places on them.  Many have become consumed with doing ministry and have forgotten about pursuing Christ and letting Him do His work.

FL: And in the beginning we spend so much time in the Word and in prayer because we need help. There’s really only depending on God. But now we’ve got a few sermons under our belt and we look back and do some good things here or there and we don’t depend on God as much.

Recommendations for Fallen African-American Pastors & Churches

RC: So what would you tell me when an African-American brother or sister contacts me and says, “I’ve fallen or my husband has fallen and the church leaders are telling me I’ve got to stay or my husband has to stay and to keep quiet about it.” Generally, what’s your advice?

FL: What I would say is in spite of what the leadership says, you request some time off. Call it a sabbatical, call it a vacation, and just say you need some time. You don’t have to make it a public announcement, but the key leaders will know why. Tell them you need to work on yourself and you need to work on your marriage.

Franklin Avenue is the only church I’ve ever pastored. We started with 50 members. I was a street preacher after I got saved. I was preaching at Greater Liberty Baptist Church and came to Franklin Avenue. Technically, that’s how I became a Southern Baptist. Franklin Avenue was at one time an all-white Baptist Church.

luter5I’ll never forget when I started running for the position of Southern Baptist president, I started getting calls from all over the country from white media asking, “Why in the world does a black man want to be president of the Southern Baptist Convention?” I told them when I became a pastor, this was an all-white church and that’s how I became part of the Southern Baptists.

I never will forget there were times I was burning the candle at both ends, I felt I was the poster child for the Southern Baptists and I was on every news program. And it just got to the point when I used to go continually and I would come home and my kids would say, “Hey Dad, it’s good to see you!” But it got to a point where they would just say, “Hey Dad.”

And I said to myself, “Wow, I’m losing my family.” I’m going all over the country, preaching at all these places to all these people who are having me sign their Bibles, but I’m losing my family. And one Sunday I got before my church and said to them, “Folks, I need to take some time off. I’m going so much that I’m losing my family. And shame on me if I’m going all across the country and trying to save the world and I lose my own family.” I told them it wasn’t scheduled but I need a week off.

And guess what? They stood up and applauded and were very supportive. I will never forget that day as long as I live. My wife and kids had no idea I was going to do that.

People need to be honest with themselves. Like I always say – a drug addict can never be set free until they look at themselves in the mirror and say, “I’ve got a problem.” An alcoholic can never be set free until they look at themselves and say, “I have a problem.”

So the pastor needs to look at himself in the mirror and say, “I’ve got a problem.” Admit to yourself you’ve got a problem and tell your church, “I need to have some time off. I need to regroup. I need to get back to God.” Then pray like David did in Psalm 51, “Have mercy upon me, O God.” Do whatever you need to do to get away with your wife and reconcile. She may not, but you’ve got to work at it.

“And that’s the problem with a lot of our brothers in the body of Christ. They don’t look at that Scripture. It says, ‘restore,’ it doesn’t say ‘kick them to the curb.’ I know you’ve heard the saying that the church are the only ones who shoot our own wounded. I know you’ve seen it personally and seen it other places. Where is the restoration? And it’s a problem.”

I’ve seen us as pastors go an awful long way to work with families and help their kids and others, but we don’t always do the same thing for our own families. And that’s because we assume that our families should understand.

I also recommend to the church to set up some accountability procedures when he comes back. When he goes out on a preaching engagement, assign one of the men of the church to go with him. Have someone go with him, whether it’s a deacon or a trustee, but someone he’s comfortable with. And have the church cover the expense. Because you know how temptation is always there. Even at the church, there should be some accountability there. You shouldn’t be with a female in the office by yourself. Have a window in your office if you’re behind closed doors. Just some things that will protect you.

Because the temptation will always be there. The enemy will always make sure. That’s an area where you will fall. The enemy says, “Oh, that’s what you like? Then I’m going to keep pressing that button.” Satan, he studies us. My weakness may not be yours and yours may not be mine, but we all have one. And the enemy will study it. “Oh, Krispy Kreme donuts is yours? Okay. Alright.

RC: Krispy Kreme is everyone’s weakness.

I get this question a lot and you’ve talked about it some in regards to different situations. I have my own feelings on the issue. If a pastor has krispycommitted adultery, he needs to tell his wife and he needs to tell the church leadership. Does he need to tell the congregation? They don’t need to know the details, but they need to know. I feel that he’s violated the trust of the church and at least for the time, he’s forfeit his right to be the shepherd.

FL: I totally agree. They don’t need to know the details. But call a special meeting, church members only, but that doesn’t always work because you’ll have all kinds of people showing up.

The church needs to know. And that will say to the people, “Wow, he’s human like us.” Because there are a lot of people in the audience who have messed up like him.

RC: I’ll tell you what. Since I’ve been preaching again and sharing my testimony with congregations, many times during the invitation, I will have people come up and confess their adultery to me. And a lot of them are church leaders, Sunday School teachers and deacons. They say to me, “I never thought a leader could mess up like I did.” And they needed to hear that God could forgive them.

FL: I think that needs to happen. And that could be the start of reconciliation. For not only him and his wife and between him and God, but for him and the church. But those wounds need to heal. It’s a wound. And if it’s not dealt with it will just spread.

RC: Anything else you want to add?

FL: As president of this convention, I see a lot of things, I get a lot of letters, and there is just a need for guys who have fallen to be ministered to. We are known for shooting our wounded. But Paul says, “Considering yourself, lest you also be tempted.”

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Pastor Fred Luter, Jr., is the Senior Pastor at Franklin Avenue Baptist Church in New Orleans, Louisiana and the first African American to be elected as President of the Southern Baptist Convention. Read more about him here.

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Ray Carroll is the author of “Fallen Pastor: Finding Restoration in a Broken World,” which answers many of the questions I get asked on a weekly basis.

If you are a fallen pastor who needs to talk or you are someone who has been affected by a fallen pastor and would like to contact me privately, please click here. You are the main reason this ministry exists. I’m here to help you.

If you are a church, men’s group, association, conference, or news outlet and would like more information about this ministry, please click here.

Special thanks to Dr. Randy Johnson for his help in making this interview a reality.

What Should We Think Of “The Other Woman”?

Posted by Ray Carroll | Posted in adultery, affair, church leadership, church members, forgiveness, other woman, pastors, reconciliation, relationships, repentance | Posted on 04-06-2014

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cheating6I recently wrote a blog giving advice to “the other woman.” You know, the woman caught in adultery. The woman the pastor has an affair with. The mistress.

I’ve never liked any of those terms. I guess it’s because I was a pastor and married the woman I had an affair with. I could say, “We shouldn’t tag people with names according to their sin.” But I’d be a hypocrite since the name of my blog is “fallen pastor.” That, and Scripture  accordingly tags us according to the sins we are habitually committing – “murderer, liar, etc.”

When we use terms to describe people, we are speaking of their sin. When we start speaking of people, we begin to take the role of judge. When we speak of an “adulterer” to describe the person’s sin, we should always remember that there is hope for that person to repent and turn to Christ. When they do, they’re no longer an adulterer in God’s eyes, they are a forgiven person, cleansed by the righteousness of Christ.

With that said, what are we to think of “the other woman”?

Let me begin by telling you about what the relationship looks like before the pastor and the other woman get caught. He’s told her that he’s never met anyone like her. He’s told her that she listens to him and his wife doesn’t. He’s told her that he wants to leave his church and family for her. He has pledged his undying love for her. He may actually feel that way or he may just think he feels that way. Either way, they are in their own world of forbidden love.

Then, they get caught.

Next, one of two things usually happen if the pastor doesn’t leave his family for her. First, the pastor gets caught and tells the church leadership that it wasn’t a physical affair or as serious as it looks in order to save his family and ministry. He tells the church leaders everything they want to hear so he can save some face. In doing so, the leadership demand he stops seeing her.

When this happens, the leadership will tell him to sever all contact with her and often, the leaders will contact her (especially if she’s a staff or church member) and tell her to leave the church. They will tell her to never step foot in the church again. She might be asked to tell her story, but usually, she isn’t. Eventually, the story is passed around and the pastor’s version of events are told and the membership gets mad at her for “seducing” the pastor.

The second thing that happens is that the pastor falls and tells the church leadership and his wife everything. As in the first case, the leadership tells him to stop contacting her, they ask her to leave and the pastor repents and attempts to reconcile with his wife.

In just a few cases I’ve seen over the years, churches have reached out to the “other woman” to help her. But I’ve only seen that in about two otherwom4cases in 200.

Let’s be clear. Both the pastor and this woman have sinned. Both have committed adultery. Both are guilty of the sin. In just about every case I’ve seen, the pastor had a higher moral responsibility to stop the situation from going anywhere. But often, when the sin comes to the surface, it’s easier to place the blame on the “temptress.”

I think that this is a very unfair balance for several reasons.

First, there is a moral failure within every human heart that only Christ can address. When we open ourselves to the possibility of sin, stop actively seeking Christ, and cease fellowship with believers of like mind, our hearts begin to wander.

Second, when moral failure occurs within the church, all aspects need to be addressed. Attempting to restore (or ignore the sins of) a pastor while sending out another member of the faith is inconsistent with our call to restore any of those within our fellowship (Galatians 6:1). Of course, the call to restore should be consistent with the desire for repentance on the part of those who sin. But when a person is cast out without even the offer of help, counseling, or guidance, the restoration cannot even begin.

Third, when “the other woman” is cast out, despite her sin, she is in the midst of confusion and needs a tremendous amount of support. Yes, she has sinned greatly. Yes, she has dug her own hole. Yes, she has committed adultery with the pastor. But at the moment of the fallout, how should the community of faith respond to her?

What are we to think of “the other woman”?

One of the most painful things for the church is that this woman has taken away the pastor who has led them and loved them for a long time. It’s hard for many people to feel anything but angst for the person who by their actions, took away their spiritual leader and hurt the pastor’s wife. So, it’s understandable if they don’t want to restore such a person to Christ. It’s understandable if the church leadership just wants to put her away from their sight.

But this is what makes the community of faith different, isn’t it? I’ve spoken with a lot of “other women” who have said, “the pastor told me he loved me. He said he would leave his wife for me. He said we would be together forever. When we got caught, the leadership got so mean and told me to leave. People started gossiping and people who were once my friends are now acting terribly.”

upsetwomanI get what’s behind the church’s actions and feelings. Hurt. Anger. I get that the church membership and leaders are in a precocious position.

That’s when we have to ask what the Christ-like response would be. What are we to do when it’s hard to love? What are we to do when we are hurt by others in the worst possible way? How are we to respond when we are betrayed by someone we thought was a friend?

Christ knew the answer and lived it. He was betrayed several times and in horrible ways and forgave freely.

Now, our forgiveness might take longer to digest and actualize, but it’s something worthwhile to work toward. In the meantime, if we are part of a community of faith, we need to view “the other woman” as a fallen person, like we are. A person created in the image of God, like us. Someone worth fighting for, worth saving, worth restoration. A person who has fallen as far as they can and who needs the hand of a fellow believer.

And if we aren’t in a position at that moment to provide that hand, we have to be willing to find someone who can until we can open the door far enough to begin the process of forgiveness and restoration.

Next time: “How do we help the other woman?”

If you’re “the other woman” you might want to check out my wife’s blog and my book. Other articles:

Forgiving the Other Woman” by Rebeca Seitz, from Crosswalk.com

Questions About Affairs From The Other Woman by Anne Bercht” – these are letters a Christian seminar group gets from “other women.” It’s an insight to the problems they suffer and they’re just like the problems we hear about, showing that these women need help.

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Ray Carroll is the author of “Fallen Pastor: Finding Restoration in a Broken World,” which answers many of the questions I get asked on a weekly basis.

If you are a fallen pastor who needs to talk or you are someone who has been affected by a fallen pastor and would like to contact me privately, please click here. You are the main reason this ministry exists. I’m here to help you.

If you are a church, men’s group, association, conference, or news outlet and would like more information about this ministry, please click here.

Advice For “The Other Woman”

Posted by Ray Carroll | Posted in adultery, affair, fallenness, guilt, pastors, restoration | Posted on 28-05-2014

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moralcrisisThere’s a moral crisis among pastors in our country. I can cite statistics all day – and I have on this blog – about pastors falling into adultery to prove the point.

But I think the thing that gets to me the most are the women who contact us through this website who most would call the pastor’s mistress, “the other woman”, or the adulteress. We minister to everyone who is affected by the fall. If I had nothing else to base my premise of a moral crisis among pastors on – the sheer numbers of women claiming to be having affairs with pastors still serving would be enough.

Before I start on this topic, I want to address two things. First, I fell in the ministry and I married the woman I had an affair with. I’ve made it clear before and I’ll say it again. We are not an example to be followed. We sinned in the eyes of God. Also, even though we sinned, any advice we give should not be automatically dismissed. It should be matched up with Scripture. If it’s truth, it’s truth only because God said it first.

I also want to caution readers who read this to be aware of their beliefs and emotions on this topic. It’s one thing to have a sense of compassion for the woman caught in adultery in John 8. But often, I’ve found that when many Christians come face to face with a real woman caught in adultery with a pastor, they are quick to judge her harshly and are unwilling to show her love or any kind of path to restoration in Christ.

Most of the emails we get from women who are having affairs with pastors are very similar and saddening. Many have the same characteristics which outline the problems in our churches, but will also form the basis of my advice I would like to give to all the “other women” out there who might read this. Here are the most common statements we hear:

1. “This affair has been going on a long time. I’ve become convinced that it needs to end, but he tells me that it’s okay. He doesn’t want it to end. What should I do?”

More often than not, the woman involved with a pastor will show moral objection long before the pastor will. She is otherwomanoften guilt-ridden and wants out, knowing that the relationship was a mistake in the first place. She admits that she was weak when it started and acknowledges her sin, but also admits that her bond with the pastor is very strong.

At the same time, the pastor often justifies their actions together. Sometimes, he will use Scripture to do so. He will often tell her how his wife doesn’t listen to him anymore, how he’s never loved anyone like her, how he was never meant to be with his wife, that God meant her to be his companion and not his wife. He’s an accomplished speaker and people person and his words hold sway with someone who is in love with him.

My advice is always the same. Get out of the relationship. It’s sinful and is causing harm to both you and to anyone it touches. You are right to feel guilty but you can be free of it. God will forgive you of that sin, but you have to break free from it. The best first step is to leave the church and get free from any influence the pastor has over you. No more texting, meetings, phone calls, emails – no contact. Let him know it’s over.

2. “He keeps telling me that he’s going to leave his wife and family for me. He’s been telling me that for a long time. He tells me he loves me. He hasn’t left his wife yet. I don’t want to wreck his family, but I love him too.”

This happens more than you’d probably want to know. And these examples I’m giving? Most of these pastors are probably still serving. I’ll get to that in a minute.

In general, if you’re having an affair and a man keeps telling you he’s going to leave his family, don’t believe him. But that’s not even the point. You shouldn’t even be in that relationship and you know you shouldn’t.

My dad gave me some of the best advice ever one time. He said, “Son, if you ever have to ask whether or not you should be doing something, you probably shouldn’t be.” In other words, if you have to ask about the ethics of something – especially something pretty simple – you probably already know the answer.

That’s what’s under all of these questions. It’s not really about “should I run off with the pastor“? The women who contact us already know what they’re doing is wrong. They really want to know “I know I’m wrong. How do I get out?” Again, stop the relationship. Remove all contact. Find people who can help you.

3. “The church leaders found out about me and the pastor. But the pastor lied about the relationship. He told them I was coming on to him and he kept trying to push me away. He told them it was an emotional affair but there was more. I have proof. The church leaders and members are attacking me and lying about me. I have proof of how awful he was and don’t think he should be pastoring. Should I turn him in?”

otherwoman2Again, I get this a lot. And it’s tough. Because on one hand, when any of us has been hurt and accused of more than we should, we have an overwhelming sense of justice. Especially when the other person we were co-partners in sin with is getting away with it and blaming it all on us.

My advice is difficult, but I lean on some Scriptural ideals. Jesus calls on us to be peacemakers. We are also told that our sin will find us out. God has a plan for everything. If we really believe that – as hard as it may be – then the advice may not be so hard to follow.

I advise not to retaliate. Get as far away from the church and pastor as possible. Focus on getting yourself right with God. You get better. Get yourself help. Heal your heart. Get that situation in your rear view mirror and give it over to God. If that pastor and church leadership know the truth and are twisting it, then they aren’t going to believe you anyway. No one there is. They aren’t going to accept anything you say.

I know you want justice. I know you want the satisfaction of seeing him hurt like you hurt, especially when he told you he loved you and he made you feel special. But that’s not your place. Vengeance isn’t your place. God will take care of it. What you need to do is grasp the grace of God and His forgiveness for your sin. One day, that pastor is going to get exposed and he will have to face the music. When he does, he’s going to need grace as well.

Friends, I’ve seen a lot of hurt people in the past five years. I’ve talked to all kinds of people from different backgrounds. They all need love, grace, mercy and kindness. Some of them just need someone to listen for a minute without being judgmental. Some just need someone who’s been there and to tell them that Christ really does forgive and love them for who they are.

If you’re the other woman and want out, contact us. We’re here for you. If you’re a pastor involved in an affair, stop. You’re doing damage to yourself, your family, and to another person.  And I’m here for you. Contact me. I won’t judge you or yell at you. I do know the way to help and a path to restoration. Let us help.

Related post: The Fallen Pastor’s Wife – Wrote this post three years ago to help the wives of fallen pastors.

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Ray Carroll is the author of “Fallen Pastor: Finding Restoration in a Broken World,” which answers many of the questions I get asked on a weekly basis.

If you are a fallen pastor who needs to talk or you are someone who has been affected by a fallen pastor and would like to contact me privately, please click here. You are the main reason this ministry exists. I’m here to help you.

If you are a church, men’s group, association, conference, or news outlet and would like more information about this ministry, please click here.

Is Repentance Possible For The Fallen Pastor?

Posted by Ray Carroll | Posted in adultery, affair, forgiveness, pastors, repentance | Posted on 19-05-2014

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repentsWhen a pastor falls from the ministry, due to adultery, embezzlement, alcoholism, or whatever, the immediate desired response is that he repent on the spot. Repentance, as we know it, is a turning away from his sin and moving back toward God.

If he has left his wife or committed adultery, he needs to cut off all contact with the woman he is with and try to reconcile with his wife and family.

To do this, he needs the help of his church, counselors, and spiritual people who are willing to walk with him in restoration for a long time. It will be a difficult process. It will be a long process. In the beginning, he may not want to come back, but if he shows repentance, along with the support of the church, he may come back.

Even if he does, he will always have the albatross of sin tied around his neck for the rest of his life. I do know of many pastors who restored with their wives who reentered into ministry under the care of gracious churches.

That’s the easy one. Then we have the pastors, who I have written about extensively in my book, “Fallen Pastor: Finding Restoration in a Broken World,” who for whatever reason, decided not to turn from their sin. In my book, I talk about the stages the pastor goes through in the early days of his fall. He is angry over a lot of things, he feels rejected, he knows he has sinned, yet he is looking to justify his sin.

Few reach out to him and often, the only friend he has is the woman he has chosen to be with. These aren’t excuses for anconflict unrepentant attitude, they are the reality in which he lives.

Which brings me to a most important point – his issues didn’t start overnight. He didn’t wake up one day and decide to commit adultery. His temptation was preceded by years of issues, conflict, marriage issues and ultimately, temptation. The confusion he now finds himself in are a result of his own sin and he has to face the consequences.

He may reach out to his wife at some point to discuss reconciliation to find it isn’t possible. He may not wait long enough for the anger to reside. He may just be stagnant in his sin and keep pushing on. He may just want to be with this new woman. Regardless, he has made his choice, leaving many people behind hurt and disillusioned.

Someday, though, the light goes on. It probably goes on after he’s remarried or after reconciliation with his wife has long passed. His heart begins to turn to God and He realizes he has sinned greatly, but there is little he can do about his sin.

He knows he can write letters of apology, call the church deacons, apologize to his former wife, family, but he cannot undo the past. He turns to God for forgiveness and God forgives. He always does.

King David committed adultery with Bathsheba, then to hide his sin, he had her husband murdered. There’s no reconciliation to be had there with anyone. But after his sin was discovered, he poured out his heart to God for forgiveness. But where’s the repentance? He can’t undo the adultery and murder. God wanted a repentant heart in David. And David was broken when he wrote Psalm 56 and I believe he turned his heart to God. He couldn’t un-murder Uriah, but he could repent for his actions.

There are many that believe that a fallen pastor who did not reconcile with his wife can never be truly repentant. They make a good point. Their point is that unless you go back to your wife and family, you are not repentant. You are still a sinner and out of the will of God.

I’ve posed this question to a lot of counselors and seminary professors and people with a much higher pay grade than me. Why? Not so I could justify myself. But because I want to be right with God. After my divorce, reconciliation was not to be had, I remarried and went on. I spent a  lot of time in anger and bitterness.

sinnomoreThen, I had my moment with God. My moment where I asked if I could be truly repentant. I was reminded of the woman caught in adultery. He told her to “Go and sin no more.” I was reminded of the tax collectors who came to Christ and the result of their life was to stop living in a way that was dishonoring to God. The thief on the cross was granted entrance into heaven based on his belief. Paul, on the road to Damascus, was transformed by Christ and his life took a turn completely God-ward.

None of these people could do anything about their past at that point. It was what it was. The tax collector refunded the people’s money. Some could go and apologize to those they had harmed. But Christ desired a heart change. He wanted them to “go and sin no more.” He wanted the sin they had committed that led them there to stop.

Quote me how divorce is adultery and remarriage is adultery. I understand. I understand the sins committed in those days were done out of my own selfishness, due to the circumstances around me, due to my own desire to sin. All my sin. But I also know I was forgiven.

And if I quote Hershael York once, I’ll quote him a thousand times. He said to me, “You have to make your repentance more notorious than your sin.” He wasn’t excusing what I had done, but recognizing that I had sinned. But now that I had, I had to live a life of holiness, a life pleasing to God.

Unfortunately, for the fallen pastor, for many, he will always be seen as the man with the Scarlet Letter emblazoned upon him. Not worthy of forgiveness or trust. Hated by many, scorned by his former pastor friends, and not worthy of any service to God. I know better. There is hope. God is never done with His servants who turn their hearts toward Him. God has forgotten your sin if you repent and turn away from former things. Even if others bring it up, God has cast it as far as the east is from the west.

If you’re a fallen pastor and are reading this, regardless of what stage you are in, there is hope for repentance. Deep down, you know what to do. Turn to God, seek Him and He will answer.

(This is a repost from a while back, but I thought it might help those who are new to the site – God bless).

Want to leave a comment? Click the “keep reading” button and join the conversation.

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Ray Carroll is the author of “Fallen Pastor: Finding Restoration in a Broken World,” which answers many of the questions I get asked on a weekly basis.

If you are a fallen pastor who needs to talk or you are someone who has been affected by a fallen pastor and would like to contact me privately, please click here. You are the main reason this ministry exists. I’m here to help you.

If you are a church, men’s group, association, conference, or news outlet and would like more information about this ministry, please click here.

Fallen Pastors and Divorce

Posted by Ray Carroll | Posted in adultery, affair, Allison, conflict, culture, divorce, fallenness, forgiveness, grace, Hershael York, marriage, reconciliation, relationships | Posted on 25-04-2014

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2percentThis isn’t an easy post. Some fallen pastors who have committed adultery end up with the woman they commit adultery with. I was one.

Let me share with you a couple of things before I start. The statistic is non-negotiable – 2% of marriages that are built on adultery succeed. You get that? That means if you marry someone that you commit adultery with, you are looking down the barrel of a 98% failure rate.

Now, let me share with you this quote from Dr. Hershael York, preaching professor who I interviewed for my book. He had a great reason why marriages built on affairs don’t really last. It’s because when you’re engaged in an affair, it’s really a fantasy world that you can come and go from. It’s not a true relationship that is founded on the marriage ideal:

Every time you have an affair with anybody, I don’t care who you are, in a sense, you’re having an affair with a fantasy and not a real person. Because the person you’ve got to pay the mortgage with, deal with the kids’ soccer schedule with, the one whose vomit you wipe up when they’re sick, that’s the real person you live with. Twenty minutes in the sack on a Tuesday afternoon is really not love. You’ve got to tell yourself that. You’ve got to awaken yourself to the fact that it’s fantasy. If you end up with the person you had an affair with, I guarantee you once you get married you have to face the same issues and same struggles. You cannot take two totally depraved human beings, stick them in the same house and not have friction.” (Fallen Pastor, p. 172)

He’s right. The thrill of the affair is not the same as a marriage covenant.

I did in fact, marry Allison, who was the woman I met and had an affair with. We are still here after four years. We are not the norm. I do not encourage fallen pastors to run after the women they had an affair with. For some reason, Allison and I have made it work. She is great for me. She loves me for who I am and I love her with all my heart. Does that make our sin right? Nope. But we are here, attempting to move on past what we did and trying to live a life of holiness.

I’ve often said that pastors don’t just wake up one day and say, “I think I’ll commit adultery today.” They don’t. It takes a long time to get to that point. Know this – their sin is their responsibility. There are factors that weaken them and I list them in my book – poor relationship with spouse, overly high expectations, church conflict, isolation and many times a huge trauma.

pastorkidsOne thing that many fallen pastors don’t think about is what the fallout will be. When I was on the road to leaving my wife and the ministry, I just knew I wanted to be with Allison. I knew it would cost me my job and the contact I had with my children.

When I finally got caught, it became more real to me. It was all over. All of it. Especially the contact I would have with my children.

I won’t sit here and tell you that it was an easy thing. It was the most difficult thing. In fact, all of the fallen pastors I talk to tell me that losing full time contact with their children in cases of divorce is the most devastating thing for them.

There are some statistics that should bother anyone involved in church today. The statistic that a vast majority of ministry couples feel that serving in the church has a detrimental effect upon their marriage. That most ministry couples experience anxiety and depression.

People ask me, “Would you do it again if you had the chance?” I don’t like hypothetical questions. What I do consider is being able to provide for my children, making sure they are happy, and being involved with them and being free to talk with them when they desire.

They are daddy’s girls. I am proud to say they love me. We discuss things that I know they only share with me. They know what I did was a sin, but they love me anyway.

Divorce is a terrible, sinful thing. They know this. But each time I see them, they wrap their arms around me and call me “Daddy.” They love me despite my flaws and care about the ministry I’m involved in now.

What is the point I’m driving at? Well, there are two. First, if you are a pastor who is thinking about adultery, please think about the consequences. If you fall, it will effect everyone around you. Your church, your wife, your kids and people in the community. If there is something there to salvage, work on it.

Secondly, if you have fallen, do what it takes to work things out with your family. Your kids, parents, siblings, trustgrandparents, whomever. Not everyone will be easy to trust or forgive you right away. You need to understand that you are the one who sinned. If you are truly repentant and understand grace, then you will give people time to heal.

Divorce is a serious thing. Fallen pastors, are you ready to go into those proceedings? Many hurt pastor’s wives want to leave you immediately. It’s because they are hurt. They often listen to the counsel of their family or those in the church who are hurt as they are. If you want your wife back, try to get an impartial mediator involved.

If divorce is pursued, seek the heart of Christ. Don’t be an angry person. Always be thinking about your children. Don’t respond with hatred when hatred is thrown back at you. Remember that the reason your spouse is acting as she does is because you did what you did. Show true, repentant humility.

You might not be able to stop a divorce, but beginning with true, Christ-like humility can put you on the right step toward a lifetime journey of repentance and holiness.

Finally, I will tell you this. When a wife has been cheated on, she has the right to be angry. Don’t expect her to forgive you or gain your trust overnight. I’ve seen a lot of fallen pastors say to their wives within months of the act of adultery, “God says you should forgive me.” Wrong approach. When we commit adultery, we have caused depths of hurt that we do not understand.

Step back, repent to God and allow Him to work on the hearts of others. Know that trust takes a long time to be restored. It may never be restored. I’ve seen fallen pastors whose wives never forgive them or always hold their adultery over their head.

How does one respond to that? With grace. With the same grace we desire after we committed adultery. We cannot expect to change anyone’s heart but our own. When you sin, turn to God. Allow Him to change in you what it is that went wrong. Even if your marriage ends in divorce, be patient with others. Allow God to make you a new person.

As Dr. York taught me, “Make your repentance more notorious than your sin.”

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Ray Carroll is the author of “Fallen Pastor: Finding Restoration in a Broken World,” which answers many of the questions I get asked on a weekly basis.

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