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9Marks Explained : A Letter From Mark Dever

Why Pastors Have Affairs


Gary Lamb was a church planter, blogger, and the pastor of a huge church in Georgia.  He had an affair and was divorced from his wife.

Now he's married again and planting another church (which the Bible says is kind of uncool, but that's not my purpose here). 

Since his story has broken, Lamb has been receiving emails from many men in ministry who are cheating on their wives, and so he is uniquely positioned to speak to the question of why pastors have affairs.  Even if you don't agree with him on a lot of things, there's a lot to be gained from his insights on this matter (as someone once said, wisdom isn't learning from your mistakes, it's learning from the mistakes of others).  His four observations:

  1. Most pastors struggle with some sort of insecurity.
  2. Most pastors have no accountability.
  3. Most pastors live their lives serving everyone except their wife.
  4. The church has made pastors into rock stars rather than regular men called by God.

Maybe one of those hits home for you.  If so, I pray you see the danger and make necessary changes.  Better men than you and me have fallen into this trap. 

You can read the whole thing over at garylamb.org (sorry, the link-a-ma-thing isn't working).

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you should rephrase "wisdom isn't only learning from your mistakes, but also the mistakes of others".

Now let me see if I've got this straight. Gary Lamb has had an extramarital affair, lost everything (by his own admission), remarried, is starting a new church, has learned from and processed his many failings, and is now a source of counsel and encouragement to other pastors who have been unfaithful to their wives. And all of this in a bit more than one year.

What about this makes me nervous?

Let's see if I've got this straight. Gary lamb is a young man in his 30s who has been unfaithful to his wife, lost everything (according to his own writings), has remarried, is starting a new church (which God apparently led him to do more than 6 months ago), has healthily processed his many failings, and is now the source of counsel and encouragement to other pastors who've been unfaithful. And all this in a bit more than ONE YEAR. What about this am I missing? What about this are you missing? Might we not want to wait for a while, like 5-10 years, before we start quoting him and providing him a platform?


Exactly what I am thinking! Amazing how these men, and women, do what they want, and then say they repented, and run off and start another family, and have a follower of people. And if you decide not to follow, something is then wrong with you or you are labeled as unforgiving. What a joke!

Seems like a plurality of eldership would help solve a few of these problems.

What sayest thou?

And what sayest thou as well about the reason men would even WANT to be "the" pastor of a church ... with no one else in leadership there to bounce ideas off of, pray for them, share the shepherding responsibilities, share the teaching responsibilities, and serve as accountability?


Is it possible the reason "Affairs" and “Burnout” is such a problem
for **Today’s** “Pastor/Leader” is they have found themselves

with a “Title” and “Position” NOT found in the Bible?

Did anyone have the “Title” “pastor” in the Bible?
Was anyone ordained a “pastor” in the Bible?
Were any congregations “led” by a “pastor” in the Bible?

And every “pastor” I’ve met also had the “Title” “Reverend.”

Does anyone have the “Title” Reverend in the Bible?

Does anyone have the “Title” and “Position” – “Pastor/Leader” – in the Bible?

Jesus taught “His Disciples” NOT to be called “Master/Leader”
For you have “ONE” “Master/Leader” The Christ. Mat 23:8-10 KJV

Ezekiel 14:1-7, speaks about “Idols of the Heart,”
and now God will speak to us according to the “Idols of our Heart.”
Has that “Title” “Pastor/Leader” become an “Idol?”

In my experience…

Titles become Idols.
Pastors become Masters.
(Ezek 14:1-11, Mat 23:10.)

Heavy weights on shoulders NOT easy to lay down.

And other sheep I have, which are not of this fold:
them also I must bring, and they shall “hear my voice;”
and there shall be “ONE” fold, and “ONE” shepherd.
John 10:16

One Fold – One Shepherd – One Voice.
If Not Now, When?

Be blessed in your search for Truth… Jesus.

I think it's important to clarify that the term "affair" where a pastor and a member of his congregation is concerned is a misnomer. It is ABUSE. Because of the power differential between a member of the clergy and his congregant, the relationship is never truly consensual. Pastors, like therapists, doctors, and teachers, have a fiduciary duty to "do no harm" by establishing and maintaining appropriate boundaries. While the woman involved must confess her own wrongdoing, the onus is 100% on the pastor violating a sacred trust. Clergy Sexual Abuse (CSA) and Clergy Sexual Misconduct (CSM) are rampant in the church. How do we put a stop to it? EDUCATE CONGREGATIONS. For more information on CSA/CSM, check out a recent study done by a Baylor University sociologist at www.baylor.edu/clergysexualmisconduct/. Another excellent resource is found at www.thehopeofsurvivors.com.

I've been married now for 31 years. My husband and I were both virgins when we married. We have 4 children. He was called into the ministry and we served in it for approx 25 years. 2 years ago he left a note and walked out. After denying for months he was having an affair, it was discovered he was. He served me with divorce papers soon after. (I was praying he would repent and we could reconcile..since I personally believe in the vows I made to him and God) He has been successfully poisoning many of our family members that he is not to blame. He is charming and articulate and very much liked. BUT who he really is, is a pathological liar and sociopath.

It has been a nightmare that I hope to wake up from...but see no end. His verbage is the same..."Well, Lisa's bitter she's not forgiving", "I don't have a girlfriend..she's just a friend", "yeah..so I've sinned...YOU'VE NEVER SINNED?!?!", "Let's not talk about my sin...lets just work on our relationship", "I tried EVERYTHING to come back..I'm just waiting on Lisa to get her heart right".

The reality is there were NO attempts on his part for reconciliation, it was all a smokescreen to look like he was. He is violent, abusive and a con-man. But my older children struggle...since this is their father.

NO ONE from the church has YET to confront him, visit with him, no church discipline has occurred. He still has his ordination papers and his membership in good standing. WHERE ARE THE MEN OF GOD ?

Matthew 18:15-17 "Moreover if thy brother shall trespass against thee, go and tell him his fault between thee and him alone: if he shall hear thee, thou hast gained thy brother.

16But if he will not hear thee, then take with thee one or two more, that in the mouth of two or three witnesses every word may be established.

17And if he shall neglect to hear them, tell it unto the church: but if he neglect to hear the church, let him be unto thee as an heathen man and a publican.

I am so hurt with men in churches..who are too scared to confront......while my older children are confused into thinking..."hey I guess what dad did isn't THAT BAD...Mom...nobody else seems to think so...or care"

In my opinion, it's this exact blurrying of right and wrong..and no consequences...that are crippling the church.

How would you handle this?

It's nearly impossible to find educated people for this topic, however, you sound
like you know what you're talking about! Thanks

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