CHRISTIAN SEX SCANDALS: How to Avoid Them and What To Do If Exposed

Written by Steve Pauwels on April 24, 2014

Hoo-boy. Like blisters in a bad shingles outbreak, reports of sexual shenanigans among “Christian” leaders have been erupting all across the media landscape. In the past few weeks alone: homeschooling champion Doug Phillips, popular Bible teacher Bill Gothard, Florida mega-church pastor Bob Coy, Louisiana Republican Rep. Vance McCallister. Am I leaving anyone out?

This has moved beyond tedious. For those of us lesser Christian lights out here, who are merely attempting to proclaim the Gospel, live righteously, represent Christ with some respectability, the constant barrage of difficulties thrown up by these scandal-ridden, high-profile types is getting old; really old.

Okay, we get it: you in-the-spotlight, Christ-professing big-wigs can’t keep your glandular impulses under leash. That’s a personal tragedy. Now please stop dragging the cause of the Kingdom of God into the gutter with you. Your ego, lusts, whatever demand you befoul yourself with your preferred variety of lasciviousness? That’s your call, I suppose. But please leave alone the rest of us who are trying to uphold some kind of standard — a Biblical standard — of godliness in the midst of this sex-saturated culture.

As always, the perfidy of these stumblers provides one useful service: if you are a human being with a penis, pay attention: PAUSE, CONSIDER the far-ranging consequences of their foolishness, ADJUST your own life accordingly — and thus, prayerfully, escape falling into the same testosterone-addled soup that is destroying their worlds.

Many years ago, a very wise man forcefully urged: “Flee sexual immorality” (1 Corinthians 6:18). Flee. FLEE! Not sniff around it, toy with it, poo-poo it, snicker at it. Run, shrieking if necessary, from sexual impropriety (see: Joseph, Genesis 39).

People roll their eyes at the Rev. Billy Graham’s oft-noticed insistence on always having a male aide accompany him while traveling, scoping out hotel rooms before he entered them, etc. Yeah, how old fashioned, how scrupulously cautious. And how wonderful that the old man has wrapped up three-quarters-of-a-century of public ministry with nary a whiff of libidinous scandal.

Once more, Christian males: FLEE sexual immorality. Of any and every form. Even any hint of it. Take your vulnerability to sexual temptation with deadly, unapologetic seriousness. Your reputation, your career, your ministry, your marriage, your soul, might depend on it.

“Fleeing” is not complicated, and is brutally practical:

— Don’t enter a car, elevator, room, etc. alone with another woman.
— Don’t send flirty/questionable texts, social media messages, etc. to another woman.
— Sexual acts short of full-on sexual intercourse with someone not your spouse still constitute sexual impropriety. (I know: Duhhh! But let’s remember the nonsense President Bill Clinton successfully pawned off on not a few voters and fellow politicians … )
— Don’t hire a woman to be your personal assistant.
— Don’t become private prayer partners with other women.
— If married, you should have no secret relationships with any other women; if you currently are indulging such a  relationship, end it. NOW.
— Don’t privately share your marriage problems or frustrations with another woman.
— At the first tingle of discomfort that a relationship you have with a woman might not be copacetic, take immediate, serious steps to set it right; if necessary, cut it off.
— Don’t play games with yourself, making excuses, stalling action, deeming yourself the exception to common-sense safeguards.
–Stay away from other men (or women!) who don’t take sexual purity seriously.
— Never assume you don’t have to keep your guard up any longer. (“Take heed when you think you stand, lest you fall — 1 Corinthians 10:12).

If busted for sexual impropriety:

— Make full confession of sin to offended parties.
— No blame-shifting! Man-up and make things right.
— Full, no-nonsense rectification of wrong doing is essential.
— Accountability: find a trustworthy friend who will hold your feet to the fire in pragmatic, dependable ways.
— Extended counseling with a godly man is a must: If there are root issues that need to be skewered, now is the time to get it done.
— Realize your choice to sin is your choice to suffer. Sexual foolishness carries with it a ghastly medley of consequences. Have no doubt: “Your sin will find you out”  (Number 32:23).

Of course, God’s forgiveness and restoration is clearly available to the genuinely penitent. That, in no way, lessens the gravity of the misbehavior or the requirement for meaningful responses.

Here are two more challenging exhortations:

— If you see a friend sliding into dangerous territory sexually, don’t dismiss it, joke about it, turn a blind eye to it. Do something! Speak to him. That’s the kind of thing a real friend will do (“Faithful are the wounds of a friend; but the kisses of an enemy are deceitful.” — Proverbs 27:6).You might be saving your wayward pal’s entire life. (“Rescue those stumbling toward the slaughter” — Proverbs 24:11).
— Under no circumstances nor for whatever reason should the offended spouse be left in the dark regarding your friend’s infidelity. Sexual transgressions must be confessed to the offended party.

Yes, tough measures, tough medicine, tough stuff. Not nearly as tough, all the same, as the catastrophe sexual recklessness will bring on the lives of the guilty, those around him, and often, even the greater Body of Christ if dealt with improperly.

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Steve Pauwels is pastor of Church of the King, Londonderry, NH and host of Striker Radio with Steve Pauwels on the Red State Talk Radio Network. He's also husband to the lovely Maureen and proud father of three fine sons: Mike, Sam and Jake.