The other day in my Church and Mission Health class at CIU we were talking about the relationship between spiritual, emotional, and physical intimacy, and my professor shared a disturbing statistic from Christianity Today. In this study of pastors who had cheated on their wives, 92% of the pastors reported that their sexual misconduct was a direct result of a counseling relationship with a female who was not their wife. The professor went on to give a typical scenario, where the pastor starts a counseling relationship with a female, they start getting into deeper junk in her life, praying intensely together, and before you know it they have reached a level of intimacy where all God-honoring boundaries are forgotten and physical intimacy naturally follows. He then shared another shocking statistic that stated an overwhelming majority of pastors do not feel comfortable praying with their wives. So essentially, because of a lack of proper care and focus in their marriage, many pastors are getting levels of intimacy from female church members that they are not getting from their wives, and this clearly lends itself to having an affair.
This hit me in a few ways:
1. It broke my heart again over the sins of our pastors and leaders.
2. It gave me a reinforced desire to pursue emotional and spiritual intimacy with my wife, pray together often, and love her more fiercely.
3. It made me very thankful how careful we are at Midtown to try to keep counseling relationships strictly same gender by raising up Godly women in our family to guide and counsel other women. I think in light of this statistic, the importance of our churches doing this cannot be overstated.
I am in no way saying that we cannot be brothers and sisters in Christ and have healthy, God-honoring relationships across gender lines…I am only stating the fact that this can be dangerous ground and must be pursued with the highest level of caution and intentionality.
So pastors, please, lets man up and love our wives well. Pray together often. Actually take the time to make them a priority and know what’s going on in their lives. If you can’t do this with how busy you are in ministry, then quit your job. And don’t you dare develop some ‘hero complex’ where you think you can swoop in and save all the hurting women that approach you. If you really care about them you will line them up with Godly women who can properly care for them and be an example to them. Please don’t risk your marriage and your ministry by entering into an unhealthy relationship.