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Real Christian Pastors Don’t Lust After Women

pastor godfrey migwi

Several years ago, 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. (Please see Is Clergy Sexual Infidelity Rare? and Stop with the “Few Bad Apples” Rationalization When Excusing Clergy Misconduct.) 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 DISNTR 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 talismans 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 off your high horse and own your sexuality.

Bruce Gerencser, 66, lives in rural Northwest Ohio with his wife of 45 years. He and his wife have six grown children and thirteen 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.

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    Remember how Jimmy Carter was jumped on for admitting he’d lusted after women? He was just telling the truth. Humans are sexual creatures, and the vast majority of us are attracted to other humans. It’s how it is. It’s necessary for the survival of the species. What’s important is fir people to learn proper consent and boundaries, and consequences, rather than shaming them into rigid rules like “women cover up”. I’m a runner, and I’ve been catcalled regardless of whether I am wearing shorts and a sports bra or long pants, jacket, hat, and gloves. Now, some fundamentalist will say I shouldn’t be let out of the house without a chaperone, to which I would say fuck off, learn how to be a responsible adult.

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    MJ Lisbeth

    OC—I remember that well. It’s ironic that Evangelicals excoriated him for that yet embrace a completely amoral man who boasts about committing sexual assault against women.

    I also find it interesting, to say the least, that men who denounce homosexuality can’t own up to their heterosexual desires.

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    MJ- You’re right. But, it’s always been not only acceptable, but considered normal for heterosexual men to be horny and to pursue women. He’s a ladies man, a cool bachelor, too busy with important things to be tied down with one woman.
    Yesterday, I was watching an old episode of the popular show “Love American Style.” A man pushes a bed (on wheels) up to a rural gas station and says “Fill ‘er up!” The attendant brings out 2 gorgeous hillbilly girls, who happily jump in the bed, and they go on their way. I couldn’t help thinking that, if it had been a gay man, with 2 gorgeous men, or any other gender, the skit would have been considered disgusting. They love Trump because he is a “ladies man.”
    Adultery? So what? Important men are expected to have mistresses (think Churchill, FDR, and JFK.) He’s a playboy, what did those women think when they took up with him? Pastors are no different. Until society stops condoning horny men as admirable, nothing will change.
    (I’m not talking about normal sexual feelings, which most people have. I’m talking about the pressure straight men are put through to be oversexed playboys who treat women like crap. Yes, I’ve discussed this with men, who agree that the Hugh Hefner/ladies man image needs to die.)

  4. Avatar
    MJ Lisbeth

    Missi—“Love American Style:”’ I hadn’t thought about that show in ages! I remember watching it early in my adolescence and wondering whether that was the world I was entering: one of what we would now call toxic masculinity but I would now say is toxic male heteronormativity. (Sorry to use the jargon of gender studies seminars!) In it, women are just sheets, I mean canvases, for male hypersexuality .

    A woman I knew said, “During the sexual revolution, women got screwed.” To that, I would say LGBT people were visible only when they were punchlines.

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