Cheating Pastors And Your Commitment

Would you go to a church where the lead pastor had been caught in adultery yet has reconciled his marriage?
What if it happened twice yet they are together again?
How about 3 times?
The tiger woods of preaching.
I honestly want to know where people draw the line.
I think Jesus’ line was not there when it came to giving another chance.
And I also know we are not Jesus.
There is a graveyard of ministers who have “been caught” and are out of ministry.

If your pastor cheated…twice, yet promised it was over…
Would you still go there?


Author loswhit

More posts by loswhit
  • Well, you’re talking about someone being in leadership versus someone being forgiven for sin. I’m definitely one of the POTSC but at some point you have to look at person who repeatedly falls into the same sin and have to confront them on their behavior. There is a reason they would keep falling into the same thing and for a season it would probably be best if the focus is not on their leading other people but getting the changes in their life necessary to avoid a repeat of the sin.

    There are other factors too like his willingness to be accountable to others, etc. So the short answer is…it depends on the situation. ๐Ÿ™‚

    • So just once?

      • As I said, depends on the situation. You can’t pretend that every situation is the same as every other and as generic as saying the guy says he’s not doing it again. I know pastors who were denying the very thing they went out and did the same night.

        I know you want us to give a firm answer but in reality there’s no firm answer when it comes to someone being in a position of leadership. Other factors need to be considered beyond a guy saying “I’m not doing it anymore.” If a guy’s saying he’s not cheating at the same time someone can walk in with pictures of him going into a hotel room with a hooker, then I don’t think he should be in leadership at that moment. ๐Ÿ™‚

      • Once for me. Forgiven. And not pastor any more.

        You can have premarital sex and be forgiven but even Jesus doesn’t call you a virgin.

        • sorry, hit submit to quick…

          The above point being that just as stated by others, forgiveness and consequences are not at all the same thing. This is a huge problem for the current (my) generation. They think they are forgiven and now I can do whatever I want again.

          That ain’t life and it ain’t the Bible. Moses, David, Solomon are just a few off the top of my head as biblical examples who were forgiven but sin carried a consequence.

          Of course I am a crazy, old man, Bible thumper anyways. I don’t go for divorced pastors or women pastors either. So there!

          • Brice you say you are a crazy old man. Are you 32 like me because I agreed with you 100%.

          • 35 going on 80…

          • LOL, I felt particularly old the other day when I went to the park with my kids and I was picking up shattered beer bottles in the playground.


    • Unknown

      I attended a church in hampton, va.(smzbt). The pastor cheated on his first wife and now they are divorce. Now I question if he cheats on his current wife?

  • Christy

    I think the cheating is a symptom of a larger heart issue. If that isn’t rooted out, then it will happen again, regardless of his promises. Promises don’t keep us from failing. Only Christ can.

  • People screw up. Pastors are people. But there’s a level of hurt that goes along with that. My dad cheated. I’ll draw the line at once. I’d stay with my church family. But that pastor better be stepping down and getting some help.

    • Good answer…
      How long until you feel “help” has been achieved?

      • I don’t see there being a set time. But before I would say a pastor should start leading again he should seek counsel from more than just the trusted people he purposely surounds himself with. And then after that, I’d say don’t bother coming back to preach just to use the “I’m a broken man that’s been redeemed” stuff. Stay away from being on a church staff and just personally desciple peole. It’ll go a lot further that way.

    • Sharon

      I think when a pastor is cheating he is in no position to stand in front of the church and pretend to lead sinners to Christ. He is of no benefit to the people who look to him for help. I called on my pastor and his wonderful wife when my (deacon) husband told me he wanted a divorce. They came to our house and I began to tell them what was going on and ask them to please pray with us. My pastor just sat on the sofa sunk as far down in his seat as he could get. After we were left alone the pastors wife told me she didn’t think brother (the deacon)my husband would cheat on me. Of course she didn’t know at the time that the pastor was also cheating. Now they too are divorced. He was no good for me or my husband. By this time my now EX husband had cheated on me with three different women. Lives messed up that might have been helped if the pastor had been doing what he was supposed to be doing. If he had gotten help I think I might have been able to look at things differently, but he is out there in the world doing someone else the same way he did his wife. So is my ex.

  • the saying says: “fool me once, shame on you.. fool me twice, shame on me”.

    1timothy 3: 4He must manage his own family well and see that his children obey him with proper respect. 5(If anyone does not know how to manage his own family, how can he take care of God’s church?)

    • Vickie

      I agree with you Patricia! I’m still what some would call a newly wed pastor’s wife and yes my pastor husband has cheted and yes I’m hurt but find it hard to follow him teaching and leading me and the church when he can’t even lead his own home.

  • Can someone who cheats return to ministry.


    Twice. I guess so. Possible.

    Three times… well… questions begin to be asked, I guess.

    I think the bar for even the first return should be relatively high. Problems have to be dealt with, and there needs to be external accountability. I’ve seen more than one situation (up close) where the return was too soon, too easy. A second fall was almost inevitable.

    But that’s a balance that’s difficult on more than one front. I’ve seen (again, up close) situations where the bar for restoration was pretty outrageous… not designed to insure that problems were dealt with, but rather designed to be punitive.

    Beyond that… the congregation has to have confidence in those who are managing that process. There is a (legal) limit to the transparency that you can have in situations like this… and if the congregation doesn’t have a high level of confidence in the process… it can also become a mess.

    Bottom line… it’s a pretty rare, maybe very rare situation where a pastor who crosses that line can successfully return to ministry in the same context and place.

    And, one also has to consider the needs of the congregation involved. Grace always, but grace may also require a change.

  • I don’t think I wouldn’t forgive him, but he obviously has a problem and it’s recurring. It also depends on if he was caught, and then confessed, but was caught again after confessing.
    If you cheat once, then there’s something wrong. If the marriage is reconciled, great. But if it happens after that, then there’s something going on deep inside the person or the marriage that won’t or can’t be reconciled.
    And I wonder if I would want to be part of a church where the pastor has a deep sin issue that he is unwilling/currently unable to completely reconcile. I’m not saying it’s really impossible to be free of it, but it looks like the evidence points towards an unwillingness to really put in the work to make sure that doesn’t happen again.

    • Dave

      I think all churches have a pastor who has a sin issue that he is currently unable to completely reconcile. The real questions are,
      Is it evident to others?
      Is it debilitating to his leadership?
      Is there repentance?

  • Wow. This hits home. Last year my pastor cheated on his wife, a woman I love dearly. I saw the hurt, anguish, tears and hole it left in the family and community. It honestly felt like there was a death. Since then, that pastor has shown no remorse, never turned from his sin, actually married the lady (who was also married) he cheated with and started a new church. All of these things happened within about nine months. Now, I am no one to judge how fast a man can be “restored” but I honestly have a hard time thinking it’s ok for him to be teaching again, this fast. I mean the family he destroyed needs him, the congregation doesn’t. I believe he should’ve kept the structure that was set for him from the elders and he didn’t… he didn’t even try to stay accountable. Yet he’s teaching at his new church he started in the SAME CITY! Wow, that alone shows me how much he doesn’t care about tearing people apart and how much it’s about his ego. I feel like he thinks he’s owed something, when all he’s done is cause tragedy and hurt.
    I’m done, but I believe if you haven’t taken the steps to keep yourself accountable then you shouldn’t be allowed to “lead” people. I’m with Christy as well, I believe cheating is a symptom of a bigger issue.

    • Niki, based on your description I’m fairly certain I know the person and church to which you’re referring. I followed that pastor via podcasts and Twitter. I know I was shocked and I was merely a member of the “digital” community. I still don’t know how to handle the fact that the rehabilitation period seems to have been so short. It does seems very suspect.

      I want to be a POTSC but this particular issue doesn’t seem right.

      I guess to address Los’ original question, I think it’s hard to offer grace when someone appears they’re more interested in flaunting their sin than repentance.

      • Sean, yeah it was and still is pretty traumatizing. It would’ve been WAY different if he had taken that time to show his family and former congregation his remorse and love for them. I have a huge heart to forgive and that I have done. It just stings when you hear that he is now recruiting (manipulating) teenagers from our church to now come “work” for him. Breaks my heart.

        • I wasn’t aware of the “recruitment.” That’s really just not cool. Time to remove myself from his Twitter follows.

          There ya go Los. Apparently I’m a “forgive pending no other mitigating circumstances” guy.

  • What if a pastor cheats, divorces his wife, marries the girl he cheated with & then starts a church? (all in a short period of time.) I might be opening up a can of worms here but I have to say WHAT. THE. H.

    I would be very afraid of following someone who can’t lead their family. The bar is high for those who lead because Christ set it. We will never “arrive” but I can’t follow someone who isn’t willing to die trying. I say err on the side of grace, but don’t be dumb.

    • Sharon

      I totally agree……

  • We owe it to our pastors to be more than just spectators. Ideally we should establish relationships and environments within the community that discourage these things from happening. However, when they do…

    I do feel that restoration is possible as long as two important criteria are met.

    First, the pastor must have “a broken and contrite heart” as David writes about in Psalm 51.

    Second, there must be a commitment between the pastor and a group of other godly men to form an accountability group.

    I know that I am most likely to sin when I am not spending time in prayer or in God’s Word or in fellowship with other believers. I know that I am most likely to fall when I feel tired and alone.

    I need a safe haven where I can be completely transparent, challenged, prayed for, encouraged and held accountable. We owe it to ourselves and our pastors to create that type of environment for each of us.

    If one or both of those two simple things are missing, the pastor should be removed, just as Paul notes about the sexually immoral man in 1 Corinthians 5.

  • I know the pastor being mentioned here and i don’t believe it has anything to do with what Los is asking here. I may be wrong but i don’t see where that would build up the kingdom in any way. I pretty sure i know the pastor being mentioned and i consider him a very good friend and a person who was there when my own pastor wasn’t willing to be.

    My thought would be. Where would we be if Jesus had limits on his grace towards us? I don’t know about you but i’ve blown it more than 3 times and i can definitely listen to someone who has blew it. You have to be secure in your relationship with God and not your pastors relationship. If he hasn’t let you down through an affair he will let you down in another way. He is human. I think it’s time the church quit fighting and competing and begin to show radical grace and unconditional love. If we only love a man when he is doing “right” then our love for him is conditional.

    • You’re right about where would we be if there were limits on Jesus grace to us. But, keeping the greater context in mind, we need to remember that scripture does hold those who lead the church and teach his word to a different (higher) standard.

      So can he be forgiven and restored to fellowship? Yes.

      Does that mean being restored to his previous position of Biblical authority over a congregation? Not necessarily.

      Does that mean he’s not being shown grace or forgiveness or the love being shown him is ‘conditional’? I don’t think so.

      • Brandon

        When I reads these words I feel a peace about what you are saying. You can’t trust feelings alone, but I feel like this really lines up with scripture as I read it.

  • We have a pastor on staff that cheated on his wife and also fathered a child with their neighbor. Time has passed. His wife and him reconciled. He started walking with Christ consistently for many years. Now he is passionate about saving marriages and specializes in counsling couples that are on the way to divorce. The kingdom is better beccause he is on staff.

    So yes I would if genuine repentance has occured and he/she has a track record since the sin of walking the narrow way.

  • One more thing… what is the difference between the pastor that has had multiple affairs and a pastor that is a fat glutton or lies continually or ___________________ (insert any repetitive sin here)?

    • Great word Dean.

    • “oh brother” is my only comment here. And yes, I know that is not a helpful comment at all…

      • Sorry, couldn’t resist one more…

        Ask this pastor’s wife is she sees any difference between her husband being fat and her husband having sex with somebody else?

        • Los

          I like you.

        • ETS

          Well the pastor’s wife’s view of the two sins isn’t the standard by which how the church’s response should be set …

          • Natalie

            Okay ETS, then ask anyone who has suffered because of an affair. The spouse, the children, the extended family, the congregation, you will find the same response.

            Those who have never suffered because of an affair have no idea how devastating it is, no matter how “small” of a part you had in the relationship.

        • Sharon

          You got it Brice. Maybe once he was a fat slob but now is a fat CHEATING slob. I liked him better when he was only a fat slob having sex with only wih me.

        • ~1stLady~


  • Ryan

    I would not go there if the pastor continued to lead the church. If a pastor cheats on his wife he is not suited Biblically to lead the church.

    And this may get some heat but if a pastor has cheated on his wife three times I would question his salvation.

    • Unathi

      Wink. I thin the person is a backslider.

  • I’m honestly a little conflicted about this. I’m a cheater. I was exposed in my sexual addiction that led to adultery; and I was a music/worship pastor of a church for almost 11 years.

    After I was exposed and recovery began I wanted desperately to bring all the grace I was finding in recovery to my church; or at least back into SOME local church, through the same position as before. Even my wife, who was so betrayed and had to hear disclosure that no one should have to endure, forgave me and continues to show me grace even as she works on her own stuff.

    My assumption was that since God’s grace was so forgiving and ready to move on, that the church (not specifically MY church, just the church in general) would see the work God was doing and embrace an eventual return to the type of ministry I did before. I never thought it would practically work out at my previous church; but that was as much about my sense of why I’d be doing it as their readiness to have me.

    As time has passed (a little over a year and a half) I’ve begun to think – as was commented on previously – that maybe the ministry God has to do through me now is going to look different. Not because of punishment. Christ took my punishment. If I don’t go back to church ministry it won’t be because God disallows it. But maybe something different because a lot of hurting broken people still aren’t ready to trust the church to be a safe place for them to heal; and He can use people like me to be a bridge for them.

    After I was busted I worked at Chick-fil-A and now at a bank. And constantly I’m surrounded by hurting people. I still hope that God’s plan for me involves going back to doing what I’m passionate about (musically) for my job. But He’s SO increased the things I feel passionate about to include – as a higher priority – being a POTSC for whoever I meet. And for me that thought gives me some peace even if I have to adapt from what I’d have initially chosen.

    • Los


    • Carol

      This a beautiful description of the repentance, introspection, humility and surrender that would cause me to trust, and motivate me to support a HUMAN minister of God. What a contrast to the “new family/new church in 9 months” description above. God Bless you!

      • Thanks Los and Carol. He HAS blessed me and continues to. You don’t even know… ๐Ÿ™‚

    • Chancie

      I believe God uses our mistakes to teach us and to use us for bigger things that we couldn’t have even understood until we made our mistakes, but the greatest thing you did was step down while you were going through your “issues.” I believe a lot of ppl here are more concerned about those ppl who live in denial and become hypocrits while trying to teach the congregation they shouldn’t sin and the whole time they are caught up in their own sin and say, “I did nothing wrong.” People can be forgiven, but you HAVE to make a CHANGE in your life to show that you truly are sorry for what you did and it’s not empty words. I personally commend you in getting your life straightened out and allowing God to fix your marriage. If you’re having problems getting your old position back, maybe it’s because God wants you to use what you learned for a different purpose. God Bless.

  • Okay, I’m still thinking on what my answer is, but first, and this may be me thinking way too narrowly, but why does it have to be that there is a graveyard of pastors without a ministry? Ministry meaning the same church or similar church before they cheated? Because, I can see where a pastor who has dealt with sin of this nature can be forgiven and relied on (yes, even after 3 times), but may be led to have a new ministry scope, ie. to pastor and disciple other men, pastors, church leaders, etc. that are wrestling the same beast.

    A pastor may claim that it limits their outreach, but I say it only fine tunes it. The right focus in ministry is more important than a broader and more popular focus.

    Still thinking though… Good question.

  • Sam

    Why is it that we don’t protect our pastors in the first place? Everyone wants to help after the fall but most of the time its complaining and excuses before. Nobody asks the pastor how are you feeling? Are you stressed out? Is there anyway I can help ease your load? And its not just pastors is it. Isn’t that just how we should be for each other as the body of Christ?

  • If I went to a big church (100+ people is big to me) then no, because for something like that I’d want to have a close relationship with the pastor. But the harder the fall the better the understanding of grace…

  • As to the main question you asked, it has to do in how the Pastor is talking about it. If each time it is a “grabbing by the bootstraps and I’m cured” sorta approach then there isn’t honesty on the issue. For me it has less to do with a consumer kind of mimd as to whether or not his cheating would taint the flavor of the church, so I’d go for something more to my taste – versus seeing someone hurting in leadership and wanting to make sure that as a part of that church we were willing to support and help true healing possible. A pastor failing iike that is as much the fault of the unrealistic expectations and pressures from the community as it is the brokenness in him/her.

  • Let me offer a unique perspective. I am pastoring a young church who has survived such a story. Two years ago I stepped into the role of pastoring a church scarred by a pastor living such a lifestyle. Our church was formed by a group, 1000+ people, who followed this pastor. He had been removed from his previous position as the pastor of a very large church for having multiple affairs with women in the church and community. The group following him expressed very openly that they believed he was a great leader & pastor….in fact they would say many times that his personal life and ministry were separate things and did not interfere with each other!!! He assured the people that he had reconciled his marriage and was restoring his family. He had even sought counseling.

    Within 2 months the new church was launched. 6 months after the launch the church would soon discover that, not only had the affairs not ended, but they had increased! He immediately took a leave and went for an intensive counseling period. During that time I arrived….I found the church working to build a system to bring him back to the pulpit. It took an act of congress to have this option removed. Once that happened about 800 people left, not only our church, but the church as a whole. WHY???? As human beings we tend to aspire to be only as good as the leaders who are set before us. If a man is less than perfect, we find peace in being less than perfect. If a man struggles with a particular sin, such as adultery, we find it easy to justify that sin in our lives because our leaders can. As a pastor I will be the first to say I AM NOT PERFECT. But, if my sin destroys my family, my integrity and God’s church…then I have no place leading it. Grace isn’t even the primary topic here. Grace exists in the fact that no matter my sin, God has rescued me from Hell! That’s all the grace I need to know God loves me….We abuse grace when we justify sin and overlook it. By overlooking sin and offering our version of grace and letting a pastor lead with an active, destructive sim in his life….how are we building the kingdom?

    We have got to step up and be the church God called us to. In 1 Corinthians 5 Paul calls out the church to hold a man in the congregation, a leader or prominent member, to accountability for his sexual sin. His discipline is strong, but Paul makes no concession for this idea of “grace” we kick around so much. The part of the story we miss is this….In 2 Corinthians that very man is restored after being disciplined. Paul says clearly in 1 Corinthians 5 that we as Christians are absolutely to hold each other accountable for our actions! We need to both discipline and restore. Discipline comes harshly, but restoration comes gently! (Galatians 6:1)

    As for our church….We have relaunched, rebuilt and healed. It has been a painful 2 years. But, we built on God’s standards, not man’s! The former pastor has been a life-long friend and still is. As far as his ability to pastor another church….I refer to 1 Timothy 3:1-7 or Titus 1…..At this point in his life he is not qualified to lead the church. But, he is living in the midst of gentle restoration. We have got to be sure we live out the example of Christ…As leaders in God’s church we need to aspire to say to our churches as Paul did, Follow me as I follow Christ! (1 Corinthians 11:1)

    • Great word, Michael. I don’t think I’ve heard it worded more perfectly. Many do aspire only to be as good as those leaders set before them. I pray the church will ONLY aspire to be like Jesus.

    • Joel
    • Deb

      Thanks for sharing your experience and especially for the reminder that God himself speaks plainly on this. It’s too easy to insert our own opinions without measuring them first against revealed Truth.
      As far as our church’s story, our pastor was caught up in pornography. He stepped down, went through a 2 year restoration period, worked outside the church…and then returned to the church two years ago. He still surrounds himself with a strong group of men who check in and hold him accountable.
      He is a blessing to us, and through his brokeness, has come back even stronger and wiser.

    • Natalie

      “We abuse grace when we justify sin and overlook it.” Excellent statement.

    • Chancie

      Well said, Michael.

    • Pastor I thank my God for you. Its Pastors like you that lets us know that there is still a few that has not and will not let down the rest of us, That’s truly trying to stand on Gods words. I will be praying for you God bless you from the bottom of my heart. I am the wife of a Bishop and thank God he really means the work that God has called him to bless

  • Courtney

    Not a chance. Step down from ministry, get your life straight. Be restored (through Christian counseling and laying at the feet of Christ begging for transformation). It may not be right, but fool me once, shame on you. Fool me twice and shame on you…I won’t be hanging around for you to fool me again.

    • Courtney

      sorry…made correction below

  • Courtney

    Not a chance. Step down from ministry, get your life straight. Be restored (through Christian counseling and laying at the feet of Christ begging for transformation). It may not be right, but fool me once, shame on you. Fool me twice and shame on meโ€ฆI wonโ€™t be hanging around for you to fool me again.

  • Sarah

    I think the answer to this question would have to be determined by the pastors heart. If he is truly repentent then of course but if not then he should step down. I feel that if he is truly sorry and takes some time off to allow for healing there should be no reason why he should stop doing what God has called him to do. After all since he has been called to shepherd Gods people Satan will most certainly have a bigger target on him and who am I to judge. God is the Great Healer! He can mend any relationship. So I guess my answer would be yes as long as he had a repentent heart.

  • jay

    Qualifications of an elder Titus 5:9

    “above reproach, the husband of one wife, having children who believe, not accused of dissipation or rebellion.
    For the overseer must be above reproach as God’s steward, not self-willed, not quick-tempered, not addicted to wine, not pugnacious, not fond of sordid gain,
    but hospitable, loving what is good, sensible, just, devout, self-controlled,
    holding fast the faithful word which is in accordance with the teaching, so that he will be able both to exhort in sound doctrine and to refute those who contradict.”

  • Amy

    Just got done with the Beth Moore study When Godly people do ungodly things. Im going to go back and read your comments but I remember saying dont get in the way of someone serving. Leading? Perhaps but make sure that those who have sought accountability and forgiveness are still able to serve in someway in the church body. I know my moms church had the lead pastor step down after after publicly admitting an affair with a married church member. He sought forgiveness and had he felt comfortable, could have remained at the church but just not as a leader

  • Leah

    The reason I have a hard time with this is not because I couldn’t forgive, but because of what Scripture says. All sin is the same in that it all needs to be covered by the blood of Jesus, but the ramifications of sin are not the same. If I get angry with someone and think mean thoughts, yes, I need forgiveness for that sin, but it’s not the same as adultery. James 3 says not many should presume to be teachers because teachers will be judged more strictly. 1 Timothy 3 says an overseer must be above reproach and the husband of one wife. And in the sermon on the mount, Jesus said, I don’t care if you have to gouge out your eye or cut off your hand to get out of a situation,DO NOT commit adultery.

    Understand, one of the things I love best about God is that He is not a prude. He is never surprised by our sin. He never puts His hand over His mouth and screams when we tell Him what we’ve done. And there is ALWAYS grace to be had, praise Him! But sometimes, there are huge consequences for our sin. And sometimes, we lose things, like our place in the church because of our sin, but that doesn’t mean God is finished with us! And it doesn’t mean we get the Plan B life. And it doesn’t mean we have no place to serve in the church. Of course there’s big consequences for stuff like this, why else would satan go after a pastor? Because of the destruction it causes.

    All that to say, I don’t think it makes me judgemental or unforgiving if I don’t want to sit under the leadership of a pastor who has committed adultery. These are weighty things and just cannot be taken lightly.

  • I think you would need to look at the leadership of the church that would let someone to continue to pastor under the stronghold of not being faithful. Sin is very powerful, but not as powerful as forgiveness. Of course he will still be gifted in leading and teaching, those gifts once given cannot be taken away. But…there comes a time when someone of greater leadership should stand up and realize that this individual is not leading with a pure heart and tell him with love to keep his boys in his pants.

  • Without knowing the other details, I think more than once would be my line right now. As a newly married woman, I think my own insecurities would really be tested by this, and would make it difficult to serve under a man who had repeatedly been found unfaithful to his wife. The sister sympathy would be kicking in hard core!

  • mo

    Once, yes I think so. Twice, and I have to start wondering…

    The guy obviously has some stuff to work out, and I have to ask myself if I really want to put myself and my family under submission to that.

    Its not about forgiveness – i’d like to think I can forgive. But its about discernment – is it right to put your family in the hands of someone who is clearly dealing with continual issues?

    So, I think twice would be where I draw the line

  • let’s be honest everyone has their sin that they repeat over and over again, it just so happens some are much more technicolor. Maybe the ones that aren’t as technicolor are even more dangerous because they’re so under the radar.

    • Jes

      Yes, definitely.

      I’d like to say unlimited times. Providing, my heart actually believed their was repentance and healing. It definitely makes you think when something happens again and again though. I think each situation is different, and most of my decision would depend on how my heart was being lead…

  • Interesting how the question and all the responses begin with the assumption that we are free to pick and choose churches at will. How would this discussion differ if we took commitment to a particular community of believers as more about walking in obedience to what God calls us to, rather than a matter of consumer-oriented choice.

    So, would I stay? I would hope that would depend only on what God told me to do and my willingness/ability to obey.

    • If you are in this situation, then God might have you stay and help protect the community from the pastor. Or God might tell you to leave. Or God might tell you to support the pastor and help in his (or her) healing and restoration. Or, being infinitely more clever than I am, God might tell you to do something I can’t even think of, something just right for the given situation and something you are uniquely gifted and suited to do. I can’t tell you exactly what that is, but I can tell you that it will most likely involve you dying to yourself, because that’s how it always rolls for Jesus-followers.

  • Would I still love my brother in Christ? Yes

    Would I still go to a church that let a man be a pastor after cheating on his wife just once? No

    He sets the Christ-like standard for his sheep. It’s a tough job being a pastor. Once we ignore biblical standards what really is the point of serving in the ministry?

  • bob burton

    Is the ministry a job or a calling? a pastor who has an affair with a member of his flock is a PREDATOR, not a Shepherd. What is wrong with us? of course forgive, but don’t give them the opportunity ever again! its like putting a pedo in a daycare. good grief.

    • agnes

      Ha! agreed! pastors are in a position of trust, and this is a total breach of trust, especially when he has needy and vulnerable people going to him all the time.. perhaps some of these are the women he ends up sleeping with. look at carlos’ post before about that girl wanting to wipe her face with his sweaty rag. there are a lot of broken women out there looking for a saviour that is not jesus, and without that trust and strength of character, pastors and other christian leaders are very vulnerable to temptation, and have lots of opportunity. not saying that is the case all the time of course, but i bet it happens a lot in these cases. billy graham never had closed door sessions with a woman on his own, and he was no fool. it’s loving to protect your flock and not sleep with them just because you can. if you do, maybe you should get another job, even if grace is extended.

  • Kevin H

    I think I would stay if it happened once. However, after the first, there sure would need to be a period of time when this pastor would be on a kind of administrative leave in order to go through the reconciliation process. To me this is going to be about repentance. Not that this pastor says he says repented, but actual repentance. Once – forgiveness, reconciliation, restoration….twice – clearly no repentance in the first place. Done.

    And it happened in the church I grew up in…not long after my wife and I had completed our pre-marital counseling with him. Truly glad he wasn’t able to be at our wedding to perform the ceremony…

  • Nope.

    I was deeply, deeply hurt by a pastor who cheated. It took me over a year to work it out in my life.

    I did forgive him and had a chance to say that to his face. He left the church, married the one he cheated with. I could not be “pastored” under him. I do believe God forgives and God forgave him, but there is also consequences to our sin. His consequence was losing the leadership of the church.

  • MJT

    I honestly don’t know..and I have a lot of history on this subject, both family and personal. There is the trust issue and the human issue, i just dont know.

  • Storm

    Some of the greatest leaders in hIstory and the Bible have also had some of the biggest personal problems as well. Some say it’s their personality. Some say it is the influence they have. Some say it’s satan in their life realizing their capacity for good and really wanting them to fail.

    When I see great people of God fall to their temptations (whether in this way or others) I automatically mourn for the potential good they could continue doing in the lives of others and the good they have already done. Because the truth is that most people will or would feel betrayed. For those that person has already touched it can cause them to question their walk. And unfortunately because we as a community can often struggle with shutting the door on hurting people because it makes us uncomfortable (leadership or just attenders/volunteers) we loose the experience and knowledge that we could learn from them. A good example is on this page. Greg (quite a few posts ahead of me) had a beautiful story to share and was quite brave to share it. He is willing, able, and does continue to do God’s work in whatever capacity he is given. Thank you for sharing Greg. Carlos, you have written “You’re the God of second chances” So, when we baulk at giving a second chance to someone who really does seem remorseful are we being responsible or are we just scared of being hurt again?

    When asking why these things happened when I was a child I was always told, “Hurting people hurt people.” I think that is important to remember not only that these pastors are usually hurting in another way but also that when we feel betrayed that we become hurting people as well, and that our actions often reflect that. We can continue to hurt rather than heal people if we aren’t diligent in stopping that process.

  • I think that the pastor would need to step down–indefinitely–after he had an affair. Not because he’s being punished, or because the congregation would not forgive him, but to find healing and restoration in the Lord. It might appear that he’s rededicated his life and repented, but an affair encompasses so much. It will take a long time before all of the different issues are brought before God and truly dealt with.

    I believe that the Bible is very clear about a pastor/elder/deacon and their example to others. They are called to be above reproach and shepherds. A pastor that has had an affair is neither of these things. He needs to be completely reconciled with his family and God.

    That being said, I believe that God’s grace makes us clean. I don’t think that every pastor will be called to eventually go back to a ministry leadership position, but at the same time, some might. I think this should come at a MUCH later time, and the man should continue to surround himself with godly counsel and accountability. He shouldn’t be pastoring just to make himself feel like he’s gotten his life together. It should be a calling from the Lord–and one that has been affirmed by other believers, prayer, and Scripture.

  • Dianne

    Can they serve again? sure. Can they lead, even pastor, again? Probably. But not right away. They need some time to heal and deal with the deeper issues that are going on. They need their souls cared for just as they’ve cared for the souls of others. What I hate to see happen is when they’re asked to leave. Family is family, period. We need to deal with the good as well as the bad.

    Just had an interesting conversation with someone this am re: a talk given at the Willow Leadership Summit that addressed this very thing head on. I feel if we’re cultivating an atmosphere of openness and humility all along, it will go a long way towards at least minimizing these occurrences.

  • Hmmm….Great discussion here.

    As a bit of an aside, I have known of pastors who find themselves involved in affairs with people they were counseling. A good friend (who also happens to be my pastor) told me recently that the most important word to remember in pastoral counseling is “referral”. Most pastors by nature want to help those who are hurting, but lines can get blurred, well meaning people can become intoxicated by the focused attention of the person they are counseling. It seems so common that it’s almost clique. I suppose the bottom line for me is, if something seems a little inappropriate, it probably is.

    • Kevin H

      Yup…that’s exactly what happened with my childhood pastor.

  • Deb

    I think it’s interesting that cheating seems to be the trump card of sins. We all sin and fall short of the glory of God, right? Even pastors if I’m not mistaken. We overlook and excuse all types of sinful behavior, but somehow we aren’t willing to be gracious and forgiving when it comes to adultery. I’m not sure what to say to that other than that it’s fascinating. In earlier years, I was cheated on in a dating relationship, multiple times and it stung a lot and I definitely do not condone extra-marital relationships, but like one of the other commenters said, it is indicative of a bigger heart problem. So, when can we get over our own hurt (recognizing that said pastor did not cheat on us…) and try and come around that person so that he/she might heal enough to get back on track? Let’s look at biblical examples…maybe start with David, also an adulterer. God called David and forgave him of his adulterous behavior, restoring him (and blessing him) in power and leadership. So, if God does it, and it’s biblical, why are we so reluctant?!?

  • Carol

    Carlos, thank you so much for this thread.

    This is a subject that’s been on my heart for awhile because this happened to someone I’m close to. Thankfully, he and his wife stayed together. He served as pastor for 30 yrs. and not one person in a church of 900 called to ask how he or she were doing. Didn’t offer any form of compassion or reconciliation. They just dumped him. The totality of his ministry contribution was invalidated by one event.

    Pastors are leaving the ministry in record numbers and it should concern all of us. The word says teachers and pastors are given to the body to equip the MEMBERS for the work of the ministry. When is the last time we ministered to the needs and welfare of our leaders?

    It breaks my heart that we will take from their willingness to serve and then self righteously ostracize them when they fall. God has given us the ministry of reconciliation. Maybe these things happen to challenge us put it into practice.

    • victomofcheating

      Same thing happened to my husband and I. After being in ministry for 30 years, pastoring 17 he fail. We are still together but our church which we started, turned their backs on us and our grown children. Not even our 2 former pastors have had anything to do with him, no one has reached out and tried to help. Now I feel as if all the so-called Christians are a farse. I’ve seen NO compassion, no good Samaritian for him, the one in the ditch. We have each other though.

  • L

    In Titus it talks a lot about leaders in ministry and where they are to fall:
    An elder must be blameless, the husband of but one wife (Titus 1:6).

    We’re all guilty of sin. God doesn’t rate sin either. However, Ive too often seen leaders in ministry go through reconciliation processes and fall back into the same scenario time and time again.

    As a follower of Christ, I believe I’m given the choice in who I look to, to lead me as far as a church goes. I believe in forgiveness of that person completely. But, just because we forgive someone, doesn’t mean that trust and respect is earned back. I need to trust and respect someone that leads me.

    I believe we choose our sins, but we can’t choose our consequences to our sins. It’s kinda the deal….so, while I would forgive my pastor or ministry leader, I wouldn’t sign up to be lead by that person again.

  • ETS

    The issue for me isn’t adultery. Adultery – which any of us have committed if we’ve even LOOKED at someone with lust – is no bigger a sin than any other. The issue is, how often could I sit under leadership that is repeatedly struggling with sin …

    And the truth is, we all are already sitting under leadership that is repeatedly struggling with sin. Not justifying or making excuses, just stating the truth.

  • L

    But shouldn’t we strive to encourage one another to live above reproach? What are we doing to encourage people not to continually sin if we continually “follow leadership.” If leaders can’t lead their homes, then for me, they shouldn’t be leading people….

    maybe i’m an idealist….but I also think we’ve become scared to follow through with consequences of sin, not handed down by us, but by His Word.

    Of course we all sin….all the great leaders of the Bible sinned. But, they didn’t all regain their “status” of leadership in peoples eyes.

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  • My dad was the pastor that cheated and not just once. I don’t even know the actual number, more than five. We left two churches so here you have someone given a second chance and the consequences were the same.

    I agreed with someone up the line who mentioned that there are some serious heart issues involved that are best dealt with through a long removal from ministry. I think each case needs to be dealt with individually but for my family, we were really and ultimately torn apart, disadvantaged by undiscerning church leadership that knew about what was going on, decided my dad could be dealt with privately and kept him in pastoral ministry, only for it to happen again. And, again. Hear me, I’m not blaming church leadership for my family’s destruction but I think that it’s one thing that really hurt my dad’s ability to heal or be disciplined in way that would bring change.

    I do not think these fallen pastors won’t ever be used in the future for God’s glory, because ALL of us, no matter where we are, what we do or in this case, what we DID, can and ARE used by God. But, I would say in very rare circumstances do i think it would be good for the pastor to step back into the ministry, for their family, for their congregation & community.
    Obviously, there were issues that either were born from their time in ministry, or bred in the limelight and pressure of it and I don’t think it’s fair, healthy or reasonable to place them back in that. I say this selfishly too, because it’s not just them that would be impacted. There would be others….like me.

  • L

    I agree completely Brittany!

    Close family friends of ours were completely shunned from the church (the family for the sins that the father had committed while leading as a pastor). It was killer and there was no separation of the sin and the human being behind that sin.

    Our churches and leaders (us!) often fail at having good discernment and truly letting the Holy Spirit lead as decisions are made.

    We too often let our emotions take hold and take action. While I don’t believe our family friend should have been put back in ministry (as it happened again since he was quickly placed somewhere else after restoration), I also disagreed with how the church “family” treated his loved ones.

    They not only lost their father in the process, but their church family as well.

  • If my pastor cheated twice yet promised it was over, would I still attend?

    If he was removed from the position, yes.

    If his sin was covered up and he stayed in his position, no.

  • david u

    I’ve never known a “pastor” who can truly go to church and be one of the congregation. Whew..what pressure. That would suck. I have pastors in my family, they can never relax and be a part. The idea of church being work is scary to me. As much as I love my church leaders, I often wonder if they miss what they grew up knowing on sunday. I know that church is waaaay bigger than sunday. Church is us. You and me. I’ve seen a number of pastors fall and get beaten up, called out, and never step back in to the fellowship of believers. I imagine some have ended up better because of it, sadly enough. All of this being said, I wouldn’t think they would wnat to remain in a pastoral role. I would love to sit next to that pastor on sunday morning, look them in the eye, and say “welcome, fellow screw up..this is where the healing starts..” Real Time.

  • The same thing happen at my Church. Many people in the church want him to remain as pastor. But base on scripture he disqualified hisself. He is suppose to be blameless and above reproach. He also broke a vow he made before God.

  • Andrew

    I read this I know it’s almost a month late but it was towards the bottom of my google reader, but this made me think:

    Would I go to a church where a minister admitted he was in the wrong, once, twice, three times? Or more? As ministers people are called to a higher standing, does this mean they have to be perfect? No, this means they are to be leading the church and the standards are different for them, right or wrong it just is.
    I think the pastor would need a time out, not in a sense he’s in trouble, but in a sense that he needs to refocus on the importance of things and set things up where he’s not going to fail. Whatever that looks like.

    And this would apply to a preacher who was an alcoholic, to sex addict, they need to be taking charge and stepping up.

    But that being said I would probably stay at the church, because that would be the time the minister and his family would need ministered too and loved on, we all fall down, but we shouldn’t have to fall alone.

  • Susan

    This may sound incredible but I belonged to three Churches in a row where the Pastors split the Church by admitting to having long term affairs. All 3 wives forgave them and they are still in Ministry. I know God is merciful, forgiving and gives us grace upon grace even when it is underserved. My question is does forgiving mean to blindly trust once trust has been broken, esp. if there is no outward display of remorse or repentance?? I think this is a valid question. In each case these Churches were split beyond repair compared to what they once were.

    These 3 Churches split because a third said forgive and let’s move on, as if nothing happened, a third said, no way, he has to go, a third said he needs to lead by example and should have a time out for restoration then return. No one could come to a consensus so it caused alot of infighting. It was such sorrow and devastation to our Congregation and some people backslid behind it. One of the Pastors refused the time out left and started an independent Church.

    I ended up doing something I never imagined I would do, I left the Church (bldg). but I did not leave the Lord whom I still love with all of my heart.
    I cried and questioned the Lord on why he was not placing me in a Church home with a faithful leader/Pastor, esp. when I had experience the pain of having to divorce a serial cheater.

    In retrospect nost of us unrealistically placed these Pastors on thrones like little gods. I guess the lesson is to use discernment and realize Jesus is the only perfect one who lived on this planet.

    I think more Pastors should come clean when they struggle with temptation and short-comings and not try to give them impression they are some kind of Super saint. Ironically they were preaching against sin with no mercy while secretly failing to lead by example. It was such a farce. People have zero tolerant for hypocrites. People who are honest about their imperfections are more respected while hypcrites are intolerable. I would whether have a Pastor say he needs prayer and also get in the prayer line if he needs prayer support.

    I’m still looking for a Church home and to be honest I have become a wandering sheep. I used to think wandering sheeps were commitment phobics who did not love the Lord as much as people who are at Church everytime the door opens. Now that the shoe is on the other foot this has changed the way I view this.

    My love for the Lord is still going strong, I just lack a passion for organized institutional religion. It IS more of a battle to stay focused but I am in a small house bible study for now.

    If any good came out of all of this I would have to say I took the time to get into the Word for myself. I started in Genesis and did not stop till I had completed Revelation (in other words, I started feeding myself instead of being a spoonfed Christian).

    There was good and bad from reading the Bible verse by verse. I discovered some serious bible twisting to manipulate people to enforce mandatory tithe paying.

    The one verse that I had never read was in Galatians 5:4, Paul plainly said that people trying to be justified by keeping the law have fallen from grace and are cut off. WOW! I either never read it or at seriously overlooked ithat verse and others in Galatians. For 22ys. I lived in fear and trembling over not tithing down to the penny. I am off the subject to make the poing that errors are mistakes are going to be made when people are human. We are not in our glorified bodies yet. Another major eye opener was Galatians 3:13 “Christ has redeemed us from the curse of the LAW by being made a curse for Us on the Cross”. It is not logical to be cursed with the quote often used in Malachi for not tithing and keeping the law. . The later New Testament verse means the previous one in Malachi 3 was voided. Colossians 2:14 said Jesus nailed the ordinances that was against us to the cross.

    Matthew 23:23 is also deceptively misleading because Jesus was not talikng to Gentiles but to Jews before his crucifixion Once he said Paid in full he was proclaiming he had fulfilled the Old Covenant law. (all 613)!

    I also would like some explanation of why for yrs. I was taught Abraham paid tithes only to discover he gave a tenth one time voluntarily without being commanded by God to do this Galatians 3:14 said blessing of Abraham came on the Gentiles by means of faith in Christ and his work on the Cross. A gross inconsistency is that Abrahaw WAS commanded to be circumcise & circumcise all males in his household servant and all but there is no teaching by these same tithe teachers to keep this law when it is the only one that was mandatory before and after the Mosaaic
    law. I also was shocked to discover that there where 613 Old Covenant laws and all had to be perfectly kept (James 2:10). if just one was broken then it voided the entire Old Covenant contract resulting in either stoning to death or harsh penalties. The Jewish Sabbath is Saturdy not Sun. so if this changed why did the tithe law not change?(Sabbath starts Friday night till Saturday Night. NO kind of activity can take place on the Sabbath whatsoever. (Devout Jews still keep the Sabbath, Pass Over, Day of Atonement, etc. It never dawned on me that there is no New Testament demand that rdeemed Christians keep any of these laws.

    If anyone can explain where there is one New Testament to pay tithes I would like to see it. My trust is in Christ not man any longer. There are are so many good scriptures on giving and promoting it as an act of worship not fear mongering and laying guilt trips.

    Galatians 5:4 said those trying to obtain favor (justification) from God by keeping the law have been cut off and fallen from Grace. I found alot of ways the bible has been re-worded or misquoted or the teaching was inconsistent to the facts. A big one is the misuse of Abraham gave a tithe to Melchizedek (a type of representation of Christ). This is not an example of the tithing since it was not mandated by God and was mentioned as a one time occurrence.

    However, Circumcision was commanded by God before as well as after the Mosiac Levitical law. Why is it not promted like tithig? Why is Matthew 23:23 used as example to tithe when Jesus was addressing Pharisees (Jews) and had not just gone to the Cross to fulfill the law. Before the Cross the Old Covenant was still in existence.

    I had one Pastor remark that we tithe as a Principle of putting God first. It is an act of worship. I thought at last a man of truth and integrity, a church I can call home but then he spent half at offering contradicitng everthing he had said about Grace being unmerited favor and how we tithe as principle of putting God first. Couldm’t figure out why quoting Malachi was necessary when he had said Jesus paid in full our debts.
    Many Church Leaders are in a crisis with a lack of loyalty to the Word of God. Until I see different I keep looking. Seems like trying to find a needle in a haystack.

    I just don’t know if I can trust the majority of them anymore. I should never had read my whole bible and learned what Paid in full and Grace meant because now I cannot stand when they ignore the payment Jesus made and make it all about the tithe payment. I give more than a tenth but not out of guilt for fear of a curse that I was never under in the first place. This displays their lack of credibility, bible knowledge or worst lack of integrity. Plus I cannot find any reference to seed being money as in sow a seed to get God to bless you. Funny I thought he did that by sending Jesus to freely give us all things. ROmans 8:32 I welcome all comments and rebukes but come with bible verses not taken out of their proper context.

  • DJ

    Stay committed to God and keep our eyes on Jesus.
    Many Christians who love the Lord and their Pastors can forgive a one time indiscretion (affair). Do not discount them forever over that slip (sin).
    God still used hundreds of people who failed in the bible including David a man the bible describes as a man after Gods own heart. Peter denied Jesus twice even cursing with it. Heroes listed as people of faith all failed at one point. There is none good but God. Jesus said to cause people to think, and to let them grasp that he is good since he is one with God and the Holy Spirit.

    As far as tithing goes this Pastor whose Church you considered joining is right if he teaches New Covenant believers can tithe as Principle of putting God first since we after Jesus went to the Cross We are mow under the Covenant of Grace. Wonderful but if he then quotes everything in the Old Testament of law then he thinks is a manipulation of sorts. To not explain that Jesus fulfilled the law because imperfect people failed to do so which is the purpose of needing our debts paid in full at the Cross enforcement tithe as still being a mandatory law and ignoring the other Old Covenant laws may be why people are not getting the understanding that sin in any area means God’s laws have been violated. No matter if old or new. Yet for the Christian the bible said if any man (and women too) sins, we have an advocate (Jesus) and if we confess our sins he is faithful and just to forgive us of all unrighteousness (sin). Pastors should teach tithing in principle of the Lord being placed first above all for where your heart is your treasure is also. If they scare people with Old Covenant law when we are New Covenant redeemed from the curse of the law by Christ this may be wrong but is no indication that the Pastor will or is committing adultery. This is mixing apples with oranges when it is two separate issues. Misrepresentation of wording over tithing is not the same as cheating on your wife and splitting your Church over it. Lay people should not twist words either.

  • DJ

    I wanted to convey the fact that manipulation of wording to promote tithing a law for New Covenant Christians may be somewhat manipulative but this is not an indication the Pastor is sleeping with someone not his spouse. Please grasp this concept. Pray for me and I will pray for you! God can hear both of us loud and clearly.

  • Xander

    It has just come to light that my pastor and mentor has been cheating on his wife for the past 8 months and just up and left her and their two children after christmas. This has truly disturbed our church family as well as really shaken me. I still ove him as my christian brother but I am appalled by the sins. To be very frank and honest I am even struggling with forgiveness but in no way shape or form do I feel he should be a pastor. For 8 months this guy has been in the pulpit preaching on personal holiness and living in adultery. Trust gone. And if all this isn’t bad enough his day job is supposed to be mentoring men in a program called Teen Challenge. Don’t get me wrong I realize where sin comes from, but to give up your family, career, and calling all for an affair?

  • Unathi

    Eix.this is mind boggling. I just want to say that this is helped going thru such comments and u r undure

  • Unathi

    How do I count the number of times. Is it the number of people or is it the times a person is caught. What happens if he also concedes incidents he was not caught.

  • You and I may not see him but can he hide from the face of the almighty God. Be sure the eyes of the Lord are upon us see the good and the evil we do. Let us live like its our last time on the face of the earth. God is coming with His hands full of reward to pay us. God bless.

  • anewbeginning

    My life has been in turmoil since 2001 when I married my husband who was then a Minister. We moved to another state and he became a self-proclaimed and self-ordained pastor. He worked in the office where there were many, many scantly dressed women. He was constantly hugging all up on them and they tell him how much they love him and how wonderful he is and how he’s their confidant; but I yet to hear one of those women call him ‘pastor’ ‘reverend’ or anything that pertains to God. We have many, many arguments about this and every time he will defend the women and I am left feeling invalidated, hurt and crying because of the horrible names he calls me in their defense. I am trying to be a good Christian wife, but after filling a 500 page journal on all of his infidelities, lies, cheating, secrets and deceit; I have pretty much had it with the so-called pastor. It might be wrong to leave him because I know that God honors marriage and would rather we reconcile than divorce, but I just can’t take any more of this. If anyone has any wise counsel, I am certainly open to receive it.

  • anewbeginning

    Also, if I may add; he has had a ministry for 9 years now and only has what I call, 2 maybe members because the man and his son come when they feel like it. And this man and my husband have the same type of spirit. The belittle and demonize women, they have both cheated on their wives, only she is not saved and kicked his butt to the curb, whereas I’m trying to be the good wife who stands by her man. He, as a pastor, is all things to all people which I feel is dangerous in itself especially because he’s calling himself a man of God. How can you be all things to all men without being unbalanced? If you believe in everything and if you’re not standing for a certain cause, but everything goes just so I can gain your attention and possibly make you a member of my church, how could you ever have a firm foundation to stand on? And where in the Bible does it say that a man of God has to flirt with women; under the guise of being a pastor, to get a congregation? If you are truly called of God to pastor a church, wouldn’t God already have a congregation set aside for you?