Pastors in addiction

There is a need to help Pastors

broken pastor

It is frightening to feel like you have no power over an issue in your life. Sexual or porn addiction for a struggling Pastor is one of the most terrifying experiences. Pure Desire Ministries international carefully researched the results of clinical SAST tests from over 3000 churches where they held their seminars. Their findings indicated that on average about 50% of Pastors were struggling sexually. Bearing in mind that sexual addiction ranges from fantasy and viewing pornography all the way to cyber-sex or acting out physically with another person, these findings show that many Pastors feel stuck between a rock and a hard place.

Their offices now counsel about 50 to 60 pastors a month who are sex addicts and have nowhere to go.

To really help leaders and ultimately their churches a sound approach needs to be developed by denominations to deal with this in a holistically biblical way.

Brothers and sisters, if someone is caught in a sin, you who live by the Spirit should restore that person gently. But watch yourselves, or you also may be tempted. (Gal. 6:1)

The challenge for ministers with addiction is complex because Pastors are often isolated and are expected to be perfect. They sometimes get very little support from their denominations when it comes to emotional health. They are often overworked as well as financially stretched. They also, like everybody else, have come to the Lord with broken lives – a brokenness which includes family dysfunction and personal trauma. They too live in an addictive society with all its temptations.

In addition many Pastors have come from deeply religious homes where the parents were rigid and disengaged.

Their parents were good parents, but they were overly concerned about the performance of their children that they neglected nurture and just letting them be. This presented a picture of God to them who was at the end of the day only interested in good behavior and results.

Pastors are uniquely isolated

These factors have set Pastors up for getting very little help with sexual addiction struggles. Because where do they go? How will they survive if their leaders find out, bearing in mind the track record of how churches have dealt with struggling leaders? Their ministry is linked to their income, so just coming out and finding healing is not all that simple. There are many ex pastors who have been dumped on the trash heap of fallen leaders by their denominations and churches. They never received any real care, advocacy, support or understanding. They were sent off into the desert like a scapegoat.

Many ex pastors have been dumped on the trash heap of fallen leaders by their denominations and churches

If healing is to come to churches and especially to the younger generation we have to deal with these issues in a different way.

A proactive approach to bring healing

It is recommended that the following policy for denominations be implemented for pastors struggling with sexual addiction. That they leave a Pastor in the Pulpit who is struggling sexually only on the following basis:

1) He has only been viewing pornography (excludes any cyber sexual activity).

2) He has not and is not acting out with a person physically or emotionally, or engaged in any illegal activity such as viewing child pornography

3) He turns his heart towards home and immediately commits to ongoing accountability, counselling and a support group to work through a minimum 12 month “7 Pillars  of freedom” program. This is the fruit or repentance. (Pastors going to Pure Desire International for counselling take a mandatory lie detector test to get to the base line of truth about their struggles).

4) He immediately cleans his hard drive and installs Covenant eyes accountability software on all his devices.

God’s heart is to heal Pastors and restore them back to health, rather than send them off into exile where they are out of sight and out of mind.

Pastors will really open up and find healing in support groups exclusively for other Pastors or Christian workers, because they will feel safe and everyone in the group will understand the unique dynamics of full time ministry. There will be many other factors to bear in mind in applying these steps, such as the pastor’s family dynamics, his honesty and attitude as well as his commitment to healing  (the fruit of repentance). But bottom line, this will be the most effective way for healing to come to leaders and ultimately to all those in their churches who are battling with sexual addiction.

In this way the mess can now become a ministry of holiness. The misery can become a message of renewal in Christ