Friday, November 25, 2011


Conrad Mbewe has a post on his blog today about a fellow pastor who committed suicide after a moral failure.  It is a stark, warm and salutary piece.  The pastor felt his shame so powerfully that he killed himself.

Moral failure.  The blog makes clear enough what that moral failure was.  In the UK, it's an epidemic.  I've grown oh-so-tired  - and, I confess, increasingly angry  -  over one story after another.  And what bothers me most is the inadequate sense of shame.

No, emphatically not; I'm not suggesting that pastors guilty of moral failure should commit suicide.  They need to trust in the mercy of Christ.  They need to work hard to rebuild their marriage (but not their ministries).  They need to do all they can to minimise the disgrace to Christ.

But shame would be a part of that.  An awful lot less of 'well, my marriage had been a sham for years.'  So what?  If it's true, it increases your disgrace: you should have dealt with it earlier.  With Christ and goodwill, miracles are possible.  And true or not, there is no situation to which adultery is the right, proper, godly, moral response.  No situation.  Not a difficult wife, or a cold bed, or rebellious children, or stressful ministries, or a combination of them all.

There should be less, too, of 'Well, these things happen.'  No, they don't.  Measles happen.  Road Traffic Accidents happen.  Storms and hurricanes happen.  Adultery is committed.  You can't catch it by being in the same room as somebody who is affected.  It doesn't come zooming round a stationary car when your visibility is impaired.  It doesn't blow in out of a clear blue sky.  Adultery is planned; it is committed; it is followed up. 

I don't know what the cause of this epidemic is.  I don't know what the solution is, or even if there is a solution.  But I do know that Christians, and pastors most of all, need to learn to take responsibility for the way they live, and stop seeing themselves and their behaviour as victims.


Jonathan Hunt said...

You are correct. It is grievous.

Andrew said...

A helpful post Gary and a tragic story. I just can't help feeling that there's a missing note here, though. You say that you don't know what causes this kind of epidemic...but surely the answer is fairly clear and is given by Conrad Mbewe in his original post:

I have only one appeal: Pray for your pastors. The devil is real and there is only one that is stronger than him—not your pastor but God. Satan knows that if he can strike the shepherd, the sheep will scatter. Hence, he targets pastors with his most potent missiles. Many Christians are oblivious to this fact. They tend to simply admire their pastors as if they were super humans. They project their childhood invincible comic heroes (Spider Man, Mr America, etc.) upon their pastors and simply watch them as they fight sin with heroic energy in the community and in the church. They forget that pastors are also fallen creatures.

I think the strength of what you say here is to communicate the shamefulness of a pastor so acting, and to provide an electric shock to our sense of complacency that 'these things happen'.

But they do happen, and without due care, prayer, daily mortification, self-awareness, and humble reliance on God's grace they could happen to me and to any Pastor. To me that's the scariest part of the story, and the most salutary.