Recently, Godfrey Migwi, pastor of House of Hope Church in Nairobi, Kenya and a clinical psychologist, addressed the temptations pastors face from “skimpily dressed” women. Migwi stated:
At times we’re tempted by skimpily dressed women who come to church to make advances on us in the name of counselling. We are human beings and have feelings.
Migwi is admitting that pastors are human; that they can be “tempted” just like anyone else. Pastors aren’t immune from sexual want and desire. As if we needed him to tell us this, right? Those of us who spent years in Christian/Evangelical churches know that pastors, deacons, evangelists, missionaries, worship leaders, youth directors, and Sunday school teachers can, and do, not only commit sex crimes, but also engage in consensual sexual relations with congregants. It is also true, that there are women (and men) who develop sexual feelings for their pastors, and, at times, act on those feelings. I had several occasions over the course of twenty-five years in the ministry where it became crystal clear to me that a female congregant had an interest in me beyond my Bible knowledge. Counselors, doctors, and others who have close intimate relationships with people face similar problems.
It is also true that pastors can develop sexual feelings for one or more congregants. To admit this is stating the obvious: pastors and other church leaders are normal human beings, subject to the same wants, needs, and desires as their congregants. The difference, however, is that pastors have a moral and ethical obligation — let alone a commitment to their spouses — to refrain from acting on their desire to be sexually intimate with congregants. Migwi, as is common for Evangelicals to do, blames women for pastors being sexually tempted. If women would only dress “properly,” men of God wouldn’t be tempted to fuck congregants. We have heard this before, right? This is nothing more than an attempt on the part of clergy to evade personal responsibility for their sexuality. Pastors preach personal responsibility and accountability, yet when it comes to their own moral weaknesses and failures, they blame others.
Jeff Maples, of Reformation Charlotte fame, has a completely different take on this issue. Here’s what Maples had to say about Pastor Migwi’s statement about “skimpily dressed” women:
Of course, sexual immorality is rampant in Pentecostalism and the denomination is where the majority of clergy who fall to sexual immorality end up when they are “restored” to ministry.
It’s difficult to discern whether what this pastor says is actually true or not — in Africa, the climate is different. Perhaps, in Africa, pastors who preach the Word of God, stand on the authority of Scripture, and are devoted to making converts and baptizing them in the name of the Father, Son, and Holy Spirit are typically sought out to be fawned over by underdressed women and seduced into one night stands.
But, perhaps, these pastors — particularly the ones who preach the false Pentecostal Word of Faith gospel and lead people into the idolatry of money — are actually tempted because they are, well, largely false converts.
First, Maples states, “sexual immorality is rampant in Pentecostalism and the denomination is where the majority of clergy who fall to sexual immorality end up when they are “restored” to ministry.” Maples would have readers believe that clergy sexual misconduct is a big problem in Pentecostal/Charismatic churches, and exposed sinning pastors usually are later “restored” to the ministry. Maples is largely right. However, he seems to be oblivious to the fact that his own corner of the Evangelical tent has the same problem; that clergy sexual misconduct is common wherever people gather to worship the Christian God. As the Black Collar Crimes series makes clear, Evangelical pastors can be and are sexual predators. Imagine if I started a series that focused on Evangelical pastors and their consensual affairs and sexual dalliances. Why, I wouldn’t have time to write about anything else. (Is Clergy Sexual Infidelity Rare?)
Second, Maples does what Christian Fundamentalists do when trying to distance themselves from “sinning” brethren: he says they aren’t True Christians®. Maples says, “perhaps, these pastors . . . are actually tempted because they are, well, largely false converts.” Migwi and his fellow Pentecostals/Charismatics are Evangelical theologically. Yes, lots of crazy shit goes on in Pentecostal/Charismatic churches. But the same can be said for Evangelical churches in general. What’s “crazy” is in the eye of the beholder.
If the sexual temptation Migwi speaks of is, as Maples says, due to the tempted pastors not being True Christians, can we not then conclude that Maples is saying, that True Christian pastors are not sexually tempted, nor do they commit sexual “sins”? Maples, and others of his ilk, believe Jesus, the Holy Spirit, and the Bible are talisman of sorts that ward off Jezebels who want to bed “godly” pastors. Jesus is a chastity belt for pastors, or so Maples would have us believe anyway. However, as anyone who is paying attention to what goes on in Evangelical circles knows, sexual scandal is not uncommon among God’s chosen ones. Evangelical salvation does not inoculate pastors from sexual desire and temptation. I just wish that Evangelicals would admit that they have the same wants, needs, and desires as the unwashed, uncircumcised Philistines of the world; that pastors can and do have sexual affairs. Wouldn’t it be refreshing for a “sinning” pastor to admit that he desired a woman who was not his wife, pursued her, and bedded her for no other reason than because he wanted to? Stop with all the excuses and misdirections, and just admit your humanity, fallibility, and frailty, oh “men of God.” Time to climb of your high horse and own your sexuality.
About Bruce Gerencser
Bruce Gerencser, 62, lives in rural Northwest Ohio with his wife of 41 years. He and his wife have six grown children and twelve grandchildren. Bruce pastored Evangelical churches for twenty-five years in Ohio, Texas, and Michigan. Bruce left the ministry in 2005, and in 2008 he left Christianity. Bruce is now a humanist and an atheist. For more information about Bruce, please read the About page.
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No church or sect can claim purity or moral superiority when it comes to these problems and failings. But too many want to blame the victim or the devil for their own actions. The church can only blame itself when the world points out its hypocrisy.
Jeff Maples blaming sexual misconduct of pastors on “underdressed women and seduced into one night stands.” is absolute BS. Pastors, like many other men, need to grow up and accept their responsibility to keep their lust in check. I don’t doubt that some female congregants do “go after” men of the clergy; but just because a woman invites you to see her sexually doesn’t mean that you can ignore your scruples (assuming that you have them) and vows and expectations of correct conduct on your part and fall into her arms. Whether you are attracted to a woman not your wife, or a woman is attracted to you, you have a duty to control both yourself and the situation, and let it go no further.
Keep an eye on this Godfrey Migwi person.
He is no more, now history is read.
Even in the most human, the most natural of urges, sex, the evangelical Christian church fucks it royally up. They take nature’s (natural) feelings and vilify them, turn them into, well, an empty offering plate being passed around.
OF COURSE people lust after sex! OF COURSE a delightful curve or buldge or wiggle brings sensual feelings! But rather than encourage reasonalble arrangements, respect and consent, human decency, the Christian Church cries out that even if a man THINKS about sex with somebody’s wife, he has sinned. What a load of malarky I had to digest throughout my life from these ludicrous dullards.
We are so addled by delusions long-published by the church that we cannot even live through human feelings without being a so-called ‘sinner’. Well, let me ask you this, Christian zealot: If I am a teen sitting in a pew and listening to a Batptist preacher tell the young people of his congregation they are all worthless without Christ etc, and while this teem sits in his pew, he views Sally 17 year old classmate, and then that teen feels a hardening going on, an inner excitement and delight, then, Christian zealot, who has committed the greater sin, the teen feeling a natural urge or the preacher, terrifying youngsters with wild stories of dripping, bubbling flesh and endless torture?
If, as a man, a soon to retire old guy in his late sixties, I stop appreciating the gifts of a well-curved pair of ‘yoga pants’, well, then, take away my glasses and put me out to pasture…. sheesh!
Now if some halfway sensible person says God is real, that is fine IF they take silly teachings like the above and explain that what was meant was human decency and respect for one another, then I can say the archaic wording has been bent by Baptists and other extremist control freaks. I do try to go-along and gelt-along. But don’t suggest to me that a human being NOT FEEL human feelings to become sinless. What infected creepo imagined that idea?
The same applies to fundamentalist Christianity. It’s a mind fuck, trying to get power over people by giving them impossible to follow rules, and blaming them for failing to follow them perfectly. One teaching is if you failed to follow one part of the law, you’ve broken the whole law. At the same time we are no longer under the law. Yet at the same time they selectively choose which of the O.T. laws are still in effect. Like I said, it’s a mind fuck.
To borrow a line from the movie “War Games” where the computer as asked to think ahead to find a scenario where we would win in a game of thermo-nuclear war with Russia. It concluded “Strange game. The only way to win, is not to play.”
Wow. I like to say that people like this act “less than human”. It seems to me that thinking, conscious beings should not act stupidly.
Thanks, Bruce, for more insight.
THANK YOU!!!! I’m so tired of people choosing delusions over reality! I’m a pastor’s kid. I’m instantly suspicious of someone who says they’re a pastor – exactly because I’ve known too many!
Me too, Katie. My dad preached the Baptist Bible until he finally started to lose his ability to put together a sermon. He always admired the Billy Graham’s and that rotund belcher for The Moral Majority (sic-sic). My dad was a good man, tried hard and was never openly disrespectful to others. (Except in his evangelical views!) Over the years became less strict in his reading of scripture. What began his ‘old age’ I believe, was that his long time congregation split and half wanted him gone. He should have moved on faster, before the dynamic of church caught up with him.
I see the teaching of evangelical Christianity as essentially harmful because it tears down humanity by saying we are fallen and need God. We are not perfect but we are not essentially evil either. To begin our lives as Christian progeny means that we are taught we are broken. This is sick, harmful teaching.
As for preachers, I do not feel comfortable in any club-room of preachers. All PK’s have been in room full of preachers on occasion. Is there somewhere in the world than you can feel more ‘outside’ than with a room of preachers?
Hell, if these preachers just TOOK responsibility for their feelings, they would be ahead. Then it would be responsible monogamy. I think the sexual sin looks even more tempting if you deny to yourself how you feel. Then you see a hot person, oh oh it’s a sin, oh the devil’s tempting me…GOT ME. But if we have agency as a human, we can accept our feelings and then act responsibly.
Funny how so many “men of God” like to blame their sexual misconduct on “scantily clad women”, or the devil, or both. God forbid they should take responsibility for themselves.
Isn’t it interesting that male fundamentalists always credit, er, blame their human feelings, I mean sinful desires, on women. They either admonish or demand that women be “modest” so as not to tempt them.
That means male fundamentalists, whether they are Bible-thumping preachers or Sharia-besotted mullahs, are all saying that women have to be repressed because men are weak!
One thing to note about Maples, he’s ex-Pentecostal. So his take on things is similar to the ex-smoker who rails about cigarette use.
All Maples did, when switching from Pentecostalism to Calvinism, is change one god for another. Instead of serving a god who thinks “just say the magic words, Jeffy, and I’ll do whatever you want!” he now serves one who thinks “Jeffy, I’m going to ‘predestine’ your friends to sin and go to Hell, and then blame them for the consequences!”