When a minister falls

Rhonda Parris,

Added 22 May 2011

burningquestion

I won’t call any names, but I have seen and heard the media reports of international sex scandals, not too frequently, but often enough to grab anyone’s attention. Sex and the church will always be a very delicate subject but there’s still one very nagging question that needs to be answered. So I threw it out to a few church leaders to get their reaction: Why is it that when men (or women) of the cloth fall from grace, the reason is more often than not of a sexual nature? Pastor Sandra Holford of New Dimensions Ministries put it simply, “I believe that men and women of God are in the frontline of ministry and will come under the attacks of the devil and might fall in the area of sexual sin. “Some might have had weaknesses with lust before they came into the ministry and never dealt with them, they become tempted and they fell. “Sexual sin will be highlighted especially when it is associated with ministers in the church and rightly so because of our calling and what the word of God says how we should live. "However, that minister should be counselled, forgiven and restored." Rev. Haynesley Griffith of the Wesleyan Holiness faith, hit my question for six. Rev. Griffith, a marriage and family therapist, is CEO of Family Heartbeat Ministries. He said: "The statement is incorrect and void of statistical data to support its claims. In counseling with ministers locally, regionally and internationally for over 25 years I can confidently say there is no truth in the statement. “Genuine ministers place a high premium on the precious lives they are called to lead and will not devalue them. But there will always be the exceptional spiritual leader who may misrepresent Christ." Rev. Anderson Kellman of Bank Hall Church of the Nazarene also gave an interesting perspective: “I believe that many ministers of religion fall from grace because of sexual impropriety due to their lack of awareness of the power of human sexuality as well as the psychological power that being a minister confers on the individual.  “The intimacy created by a deep encounter can often erode the boundaries between pastor and parishioner. “Human sexuality is a powerful force and the wise minister would do well to guard himself by being careful where he connects with his parishioners. Often times persons will come to the minister's office and will share information that they may never have shared with anyone before. That creates a sense of tremendous vulnerability to the minister and puts him/her in a position of immense power.  “Sometimes in an effort to reach out and touch the individual the lines become blurred and sexual temptation looms large and the unsuspecting minister falls prey. The double-edged sword is that the majority of parishioners will remain silent even if they are hurting.  “The minister therefore escapes unscathed and may even convince themself that the parishioner was helped thereby initiating a destructive cycle of pastoral abuse. Any deep interpersonal connection will often times create fertile ground for forbidden relationships,” said Kellman, a counsellor with Network Services Centre. I invite readers to share their opinions on this burning issue.

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