This week another scandal hit the church. Don’t you just get tired of hearing these things? I do. This time it was another usual suspect, a prophet. He had been screwing several members of his church and the lady who blew the whistle he had impregnated three times. She had Whatsapp chat messages with him that served as evidence of their illicit relationship. Ironically in the chat she called him papa, which in Ghana is the word for father but prophets and other charismatic leaders of independent churches like to be called that because they reckon themselves to be spiritual fathers. Apart from it being unbiblical to call yourself a spiritual father, I’ve already discussed it at length, how does that work? She calls you father but you are in bed with her? You demand to be called prophet, not pastor mind you lest his spiritual rank be minimized, but the next moment you are in her pants. When she addresses you as ɔsofo (the Akan word for priest) doesn’t it kill the mood or in that moment do you tell her not to call you that? Weird.
I wish I could say I haven’t seen this before but I have. In fact the cases are so similar you would almost swear it was the same individual. In a wee little fellowship I was unfortunately part of, the “man of God” behaved the same way, screwing and impregnating his church members for about five years. Ironically he could confidently preach against sexual immorality, condemning others whiles he was doing the exact same thing. When the facts began to emerge it was more than too much for me. I left. What pushed me over the edge was not just the number of his sexcapades. It was the fact that his friends and leaders were not willing to stand up against him. He did not have the sense to step down and there were a bunch of idiots ready to defend bullshit excuses like my “heart loves easily.” He wanted to pastor the same people he was screwing, literally and metaphorically and there was no one to oppose him. This is my biggest beef with Christians in independent charismatic churches. Probably it happens elsewhere but these are the people I know best. We know about these illicit relationships but we cover them up. We would rather protect the pastor whilst the flock is harmed. If a mere member does the same thing or even less they get punished severely but the leaders literally go Scot free. These are people you would not leave alone with your sister, girlfriend or wife, but it is OK for them to pastor other peoples’ sisters, girlfriends or wives.
I was discussing a Christianity Today article about sexual immorality among pastors with my friends on Whatsapp. It was in the wake of last year’s Ashley Madison leak but the article was much older. In it the authors said that pastors caught in adultery or fornication should not be allowed to pastor ever again. They had some very strong reasons and I had never considered such a drastic option. So I showed it to my friends if this should be an option that is at least on the table. The immediate response was it was too drastic and it was cruel to the pastor. Among well-meaning people who hate sexual affairs their first instinct was to defend the offending pastor. Crappy excuses like “everybody sins” were being used. When these things happen, usually the pastor will not minister for 6 months or more. After he has shown he has “repented”, whatever that means, he either pastors the same people or goes to a new congregation for a fresh new start.
Imagine the pain of the spouse and children who’s been betrayed or members who looked up to the “man of God” whose faith has been shattered. Families and churches are rocked and sometimes never recover from these affairs. All these pastors get is really a slap on the wrist. Why? We have a church culture that protects the powerful and neglects the weak. Look at how the Roman Catholic Church protects priests who abuse little boys, little boys for crying out loud.
When we considered the CT article’s authors’ reasoning and went through the scriptures, to our shock we realised that he was essentially right. Not only does it hurt the people, it hurts the perpetrator. He has not been fully rehabilitated and we then give him power and authority, putting him back into the same temptations that caused his fall. If a person is sacked from Church leadership it does not mean they cannot serve God but certainly it means they are not fit to lead. In 1 Timothy 5:19-20, Paul instructs his child in the faith, to punish openly offending church leaders. He says he should rebuke them so others might fear. In the New Testament such acts were not tolerated among leaders at all. If you are a leader you get far harsher punishment than the member. Today if you are the leader you get next to no punishment whilst the member is severely punished.
In the Bible sexual sin is directly compared to idolatry so it is no mean thing. There is a grand conspiracy among us, church leaders and members, to harbour sin in the church. We are passionately colluding with the devil to blaspheme the name of God and his people. Church members hear these things and do not demand accountability from their leaders. We do not go the nth mile to get rid of evil in the house of God. We need to expose evil, yes, I said expose. Paul in Corinthians where there were strange cases of sexual immorality said that the church should judge itself rather than wait for God to deal with us (1 Corinthians 11:31-32.) It is a fearful thing to fall into the hands of the living God. If a church upon every effort is still willing to tolerate such behave, vote with your feet.
I wrote to you in my letter not to associate with sexually immoral people – not at all meaning the sexually immoral of this world, or the greedy and swindlers, or idolaters, since then you would need to go out of the world. But now I am writing to you not to associate with anyone who bears the name of brother if he is guilty of sexual immorality or greed, or is an idolater, reviler, drunkard, or swindler – not even to eat with such a one. For what have I to do with judging outsiders? Is it not those inside the church whom you are to judge? God judges those outside. “Purge the evil person from among you.” – 1 Corinthians 5:9-13 ESV