Posted by Ray Carroll | Posted in adultery, affair, Allison, forgiveness, Hershael York, holiness, marriage, pastors, relationships, temptation | Posted on 23-08-2013
I love my ministry to fallen pastors. Not a week goes by that I don’t get an email from a man who has fallen and needs help. Whether it’s a man who has fallen from ministry, a church whose pastor who has fallen or a wife whose husband has fallen. I put everything I have into helping them.
But I need to make sure something is absolutely clear.
When I fell four years ago, I fell in love with a woman who was a member of my congregation. She was my wife’s best friend. You can read all about it in my book. We are now married. The details are all there. It is in the past. God has forgiven that sin. We have moved on.
Here is my concern, though. I don’t want people coming here thinking I will condone the sin of adultery. I will not. In my book, with the help of my friend Hershael York, I mark out the stages a fallen pastor goes through. In my experience, all fallen pastors go through these stages in some degree: Justification, Anger, Fighting against God, Defensiveness, Repentance, Brokenness and Restoration. There are many more stages, but if you really want to know what a pastor goes through and how he got there, the book is required reading.
What I don’t want is fallen pastors coming here and thinking that I’m going to tell them that adultery is okay. It’s not.
Let me tell you what happened to me. After my former wife and I had a breaking point and discovered that restoration between us was not going to happen (for a myriad of reasons – many of them my own fault), I still had to face God.
It was a weekday. I was months after my fall. I was angry at people for not accepting me for what had happened and the fact that they had not forgiven me. I was justifying my lifestyle.
One night, in despair, grief, and in shame over what I had done, God spoke to me. This is very typical for fallen pastors who come to a place of repentance and recovery. I can’t exactly tell you what happened. Nor can the other men who I have talked to who have committed adultery. What I can tell you is this – remember when Jonah ran from God? He had him swallowed by a giant fish.
When a pastor sins, God is patient, but he will find you. He will break you down to your sinful heart and demand you listen to him. That happened to me. It was very personal. For other fallen pastors I have spoken to, it was very personal for them as well. It was the day that I began my walk back on the road to holiness. It was the day I stopped blaming everyone else for my problems and started saying, like David, “Against you, God, and you alone, have I sinned.”
It was a devastating experience.
But it had to happen. Immediately after it happened, God showed me grace. Grace like I have never known. I was lifted out of the dungeon of guilt, despair and self-inflicted wounds and made whole again. He made me worthy of a child of His. Why? I don’t know. I guess because He’s God. But also because He is full of love and grace.
Pastors, I want to share with you a quote from my book that Dr. York gave to me about women we are tempted by:
“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.”
The affair is a mystical journey you go on. It’s when you find someone who understands you for who you are. It’s someone who understands you for who you are. It’s someone who understands you better than your wife or your congregation. At the end of it, though, you will find yourself with another wife, if that’s how it ends up.
Let me make something clear. My wife Allison and I are wonderfully happy. But we are not the standard. Guess what the standard is? Choosing a wife who God leads you to and making it work out.
I fear many people come to me wanting me to tell them that adultery is okay. It’s not. It is a sin. It is grievous to God. It is outside the laws of God and it is sin. “But Ray, you did it.” Yeah, and I will pay the consequences for it for the rest of my life.
Do I love my wife? Absolutely. Do we have tough days? Sure. Do we pay consequences? You better believe it. But listen, pastor: Running off with someone else is not the cure. Understand that there are factors that are making you look in the first place – church conflict, poor relationship with your spouse, people placing too high expectations upon you, isolation, etc.
Don’t go looking or have a relationship with a woman unexpectedly show up to cure your ills. Get me? There are men who are happy, sure. Like me. But we are not the Scriptural standard by which you should measure your life by. Wake up and allow God to do a work in your life.
I am here to help you. Night or day. Leave a comment with your contact information – I won’t post it. I will contact you. Or email me by clicking here. There is a dangerous culture out there that is looking to feed upon your soul and the soul of your family. Please get help. Please. Let me and people I know help.