Pastors and Adultery
Pastor Blaine Bartel of Northstar Church in Dallas is the most recent pastor caught in adultery. On April 29th of this year Charisma Magazine reported that he stepped down from his post as pastor after he acknowledged that he’d had an affair. Bartel and his wife Cathy have been married 28 years and are in pursuit of repairing their marriage.
It’s unfortunate when a pastor or church leader commits adultery. It causes dysfunction both within his natural household and his church congregation. It causes division within the home as well as the church because the pastor’s credibility within his community is blown. First, its blown by the spouse who was wronged by the act of adultery. S/he may now be filled with extreme distrust and bitterness. Additionally, the children and the congregation are also filled with distrust and bitterness. Not only have the pastor’s actions brought a reproach upon the name of the Lord and upon his own ministry; it’s brought a reproach upon everything he was supposed to stand for as a man of God. The world takes its’ shots pointing the finger at the church, stating “…they’re supposed to be Christians! Look at their pastor! He can’t even keep his pants up, and he’s telling me that I’m in sin.” They paint a broad picture that all Christians are hypocrites who can’t follow the Word of God. Even gay activist who fight for the right of homosexuals to marry point the finger at the church’s divorce rate! The adulterous pastors who indulge in extramarital affairs are a thing they ridicule. They question as to why the pastors can’t stop sleeping around while ordering them not to marry. They can’t even remain married themselves! Pastors are supposed to be the leaders in morality and character in front of their church congregation and behind closed doors. S/he’s supposed to be the prime example of holiness. But when the pastor or church leader falls, the whole body takes hit.
How bad off are pastors and church leaders when it comes to adultery? Forty percent of pastors have had extra-martial affairs since entering the ministry. Why, you ask? We can speculate that the first cause is simply the lack of spending time in the presence of the Lord in prayer. Statistics show that 95% of pastors do not pray with their spouses and 80% spend under fifteen minutes per day praying. There are just too many Martha’s and not enough Mary’s!
The second reason would be pride. Instead of mimicking Jesus as a servant, some pastors believe that they are the ones that are to be served. Some become celebrity pastors of the city and begin to develop arrogant attitudes. They failed to remember that pride comes before a fall (Proverbs 16:18).
The third reason would be the lack of a true mentor that demands accountability. Unfortunately, seventy percent of pastors do not have a close friend, confidant, or mentor.
I speculate the fourth reason to be two fold: the lack of early character development in ministry as well as the lack of a spiritual mentor specifically designed to help nurture godly character in the embryo stages of ministry. Some pastors are very charismatic with talented skills. They get by in church and everyone loves them. But they have lust problems and are serial fornicators! The churches’ leadership never deals with their issues because of their charisma and talent. It is because of this charisma and talent that they continuously are pushed to higher positions in ministry. Sadly, when the lust problems begin to manifest the church often believes that marriage is the cure. Wrong! All it creates for the future is a lustful serial adulterer who eventually gets exposed brings a reproach upon the ministry.
The fifth reason is simply the pastor’s lack of study of the Word and its application to his personal life within the kingdom of God. The limited amount of study begins to reflect in his lifestyle. Seventy percent of pastors only study the Word when it is time to prepare a message.
Regrettably, most churches in America don’t teach or have an understanding of the seriousness of adultery. In Judaism there are four cardinal sins or crimes a person should never commit:
It is a crime against God because it is sin (Exodus 20:14). It is also a sin against the spouse because covenant of marriage is broken (Job 31 9-12). The person that commits the act of adultery has sinned against his/her own body. The body is the temple of the Holy Ghost and when a man commits adultery he desecrates it. It is a known medical fact that a man who has multiple sex partners runs the risk of giving his female partner pelvic or cervical cancer. Unrepentant adultery damages the spirit because sin separates a man from God. The man exposes his body to potential diseases and damages his soul. Proverbs 6:32 says, “But whoso committeth adultery with a woman lacketh understanding: he that doeth it destroyeth his own soul.”
Remember Israel’s oldest son Reuben? He lost his birthright for sleeping with his father’s concubine Bilhah. This adulterous act cost Reuben not only his birthright, but his position in leadership of the family. In the Pseudepigrapha writings of Testament, Reuben 4:2-8 says,
“For until my father’s death I never had the courage to look him in the face or speak to any of my brothers because of my disgraceful act. Even until now my conscience harasses me because of my impious act. And yet my father consoled me greatly and prayed to the Lord in my behalf so that the Lord’s anger would pass me by – which is just how the Lord treated me. From that time until now I have kept a careful watch and have not sinned. So then, my children, observe all things that I command you and do not sin, for the sin of promiscuity is the pitfall of life, separating man from God and leading toward idolatry, because it is the deceiver of the mind and the perceptions, and leads youth down to hell before their time. For promiscuity has destroyed many. Whether a man is old, well born, rich, or poor, he brings himself disgrace among mankind and provides Satan with opportunity to cause him to stumble.”
Promiscuity brings dishonor and shame. We must strive to be like Joseph and not sin against God. We must present our bodies a living sacrifice holy and acceptable unto God. If our minds our transformed by the Holy Spirit promiscuity or Satan can’t have dominion over the saints.
Is their epidemic of pastors and church leaders committing adultery?
Should pastors be held more accountable of their actions?