Porn-Free Church

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Internet pornography is one of the biggest issues facing churches today. Find out how pastors have addressed this issue and built a culture of accountability in their churches.

25 thoughts on “Caught and Expelled for Sexual Sin: Is this What the Church Should Do?

  1. The church should be to blame as well, for having internet handy computers without protection. Bad call on the church taking that stand, in my opinion. So much for restoration. I would understand removing him for the position, temporarily or permanent I am not sure. We need to remember, sin is sin. Whether the sin be of this nature or embezzling or gluttony. My .02 worth anyways…….

    • @Pete – Right. Removing someone from leadership for specific sins is one thing, removing them from the church is another altogether. When someone is genuinely repentant, the church is called to embrace that person into their fellowship (unless there are specific circumstances that need to be resolved the flow from the consequences of their sin). But the goal is always restoration.

    • Hi Pete,

      Thanks for your comment. I believe it is certainly vital for churches and other businesses to acquire the Covenant Eyes monitoring/filtering for their computers and smart phones. Each of my devices has CE on them.

    • What about Paul’s clear instruction regarding a brother in unrepentant sexual sin in 1 Corinthians 5?

  2. So many times I have heard this story over the years. In my own life, I was caught in sexual sin and my elders and I knew I had to resign. This was back in 2003/2004. I am so thankful, though, that they restored me gently. I was held accountable, and even publicly admitted to adultery from the pulpit. But that day both I and the church received the beginnings of healing and restoration. My wife and I were never asked to leave the church, and we remain there to this day. Over the years, the Lord has allowed me to slowly engage back in ministry within the church again, and now I am on the cusp of becoming an elder. This journey has been a huge part of my adult life as a Christian, and I have seen so much of Christ and His body acting in love and obedience. What a joy it is to serve the Lord of Restoration, Healing and Forgiveness!

    • @Chad – Thanks for your comment! I really believe the church is one of the primary “means of grace” God uses to shape our character.

      Have you read our e-book for pastors who are dealing with sexual sin like pornography? You might like it. Go to CovenantEyes.com/pastorhelp.

  3. “70% of Christian, church-going men view Internet porn each week.” That’s the highest number I’ve seen yet. I don’t necessarily doubt it, but could you give some sort of link or source reference so we could look up the context? Thank you.

    • I would like to add there are other studies that address specific percentages of men who struggle with pornography. For instance, when we went to Promise Keepers a few years ago, during one of the main sessions the emcee did a text message survey asking the question: “What is the one thing you are battling that you can’t break free from?” On the list were options like alcohol, drugs, workaholism, lying, stealing, unfaithfulness to one’s wife, and pornography. As the emcee continued talking hundreds of men texted their answers, and we all watched as the answers were compiled on the big screen in real time. Nearly 70% of the men had answered “pornography.”

  4. There’s certainly no guarantee that the man struggling with secret sexual sin will come clean when he sees a church practicing gentle restoration. But one thing is for sure…when they see a person disappear who was caught in sin, their belief that they can never tell anyone is driven even more deeply into their hearts. Churches need to remember that their decisions and actions affect many, many more people than those who are directly involved. Thanks Chad for this post…hopefully we’ll all be wildly, scandalously liberal with grace.

  5. Chad,

    I cringe when I hear these stories. My empathy, however, is not directed at the church leader who had a moral fall, but on the remaining staff and congregation who must work through the long – stressful process of healing from their pain.

    We in the recovery – restoration – counseling community spend a lot of time criticizing churches for their lack of sensitivity towards leaders who have a moral fall. When a Pastor or church leader is discovered to be overtaken in sexual sin, he is also guilty of Spiritual abuse. The Pastor, youth leader, elder or SS teacher represents God to many congregants.

    In his book, Restoring the Soul of a Church: Reconciling Congregations Wounded by Clergy Sexual Misconduct, Dr. Mark Laaser says, “When pastors become involved in sexual misconduct they damage the collective soul of their congregations…their needs to be healing strategies in place to restore congregations to healthy communities of faith.”

    In my opinion, I think we are quick to judge and blame churches for not caring for the fallen pastor / leader. The larger response should be to care for the church members who have been blindsided by a liar, pervert, manipulator, narcissistic, controlling sex addict. In case you are wondering, I am guilty of every offense. I have been in recovery for 17 years and I was terminated from a para-church ministry. My pastor and deacons made the decision to keep me in the family of God since I was determined to admit my wrong, get help and make amends. I voluntarily removed myself from every leadership position in my church with my pastor’s blessing. However, I firmly believe that if they wanted to dismiss me, then God would care for me and my dear wife until we found a suitable church home. I would not have blamed the church and I certainly did not blame the employer who terminated me with no warning.

    Now, you may have a lot more information at your disposal and have enough ammunition that the church was in the wrong. However, every situation is different and any discussion of sexual sin can trigger all sorts of pain and emotions. I do not have exact numbers. But, you can assume that well over 50% of church members had a negative “first-time” sexual experience (rape, molestation, first marriage or even a honeymoon).

    Sexual sinners are just that…sinners. A merciful God still hates sin. I am not in favor of casting every sexual sinner out of the church. However, restoration success lands squarely on the shoulders of the guilty man. A humble spirit and a contrite heart is what God is looking for. And if the leader faces the consequence of being asked to leave, then that is his opportunity to take the high road of “so be it”. A sinner’s attitude will determine how quickly he is restored and to what level of responsibility and accountability he can maintain.

    Yes, every church should be in a restoration ministry. But often they cannot deal with every crisis and the congregation’s needs must be met.

    • Thanks for your comments, Jerry! It certainly is quite painful for a church and its leaders when a pastor falls morally. It’s painful when any man or woman in their church falls.

      I interviewed a pastor and elders at one church whose youth pastor fell morally. Their hearts were so broken; their faces worn with grief and weariness; and their earnest desire was to reconcile. Yet the youth pastor fled with his family. Situations are different. And the reconciliation does depend, partly, on the sinner’s confession and desire for restoration.

      My prayer is that the local church would be quick to restore, rather than quick to cast out and shove under the rug.

  6. Amen and amen to Jerry Sinclairs comprehensive grasp of the full matter.I think that it is worth remembering that a GP who has an affair with his patient is struck off until the matter is investigated properly.We would be appalled if these things were not handled fairly and wisely in the public sphere .The protection of church leader and congregation is paramount and a removal from office has to take place so that this protection and care of all parties can take happen.However the aim must always be forgiveness confession restoration and reconciliation on all counts for however long it may take.
    Praise God for his forgiveness and willingness to restore each of us.

    • Thanks, Liz, for your comments! Restoration and forgiveness is a commandment for those who are spiritual with any sinning believer within their church. It is unfortunate, however, that many churches have immediately excommunicated the sinning believer with no action toward restoration or signs of forgiveness.

      Each situation must be dealt with gentleness and care–for the congregation’s sake, for the sinning believer’s sake, and for their own sakes. But we must follow scripture, no matter how difficult it is.

  7. Are they really at fault for how they handled the situation when we have a passage such as in 1 Corinthians 5?

    9 I wrote to you in my letter not to associate with sexually immoral people— 10 not at all meaning the sexually immoral of this world, or the greedy and swindlers, or idolaters, since then you would need to go out of the world. 11 But now I am writing to you not to associate with anyone who bears the name of brother if he is guilty of sexual immorality or greed, or is an idolater, reviler, drunkard, or swindler—not even to eat with such a one. 12 For what have I to do with judging outsiders? Is it not those inside the church whom you are to judge? 13 God judges [2] those outside. “Purge the evil person from among you.”

    I’m not sure there’s much wiggle room if the church decides to follow the guidance in these verses. That’s one tough row to hoe. I wonder why Paul took such a hard line on this one? It’s clearly referring to a “brother” and says not to associate or even eat with them.

    • @Jay – Great question. For one, I would say the church kicking out his wife and kids as well goes beyond the discipline of 1 Corinthians 5. Second, if Paul is speaking about the same man in 2 Corinthians 2, then the proper response to a repentant sinner should be “to forgive and comfort him, or he may be overwhelmed by excessive sorrow” (v.7). I agree wholeheartedly with church discipline, even the very unfortunate examples of excommunication, but always with a goal and desire to restore such people, in the long run, to full fellowship (provided genuine repentance happens).

  8. It is vital to remember that 2 Corinthians follows 1st Corinthians, especially as it has to do with the sinning brother.
    It is unfortunate that local congregations sometimes (?) forget that they are to be fountainheads of grace. Instead, we far too quickly become preservers of the image of sanctification; without the real power thereof. Grace recognizes the reality of sin; so there is no fluffy sidestepping. It also recognizes that everyone is in need of it..always, everyday. Of all that places in the world that should understand the power of sin, and the overwhelming power of grace, the church is far too often “surprised” by it’s appearance.
    I, too, fell…and with that fall came all the damage mentioned above; including the exclusion of my family (who were innocent but presumed complicit) and no strategy for reconciliation and healing for either myself or the church.
    I am wholeheartedly in agreement that most men hide their secret sins precisely because of this typical reaction. One of the greatest lies of the evil one, that fuels the secrecy of addiction is “If they REALLY knew what I was like, they wouldn’t like/care for/be near me.”
    I have found, in the process of my own journey, that there are churches who get it. They understand the seriousness and perniciousness of sin; but also are willing to risk extending grace.
    On the matter of discipline, it must be administered but with the goal of the glory of God; first through restoration and only lastly by excommunication.

    • @Roy – Thanks for sharing some of your story with us. Excommunication, when it is used, should never be the end of the story. There should always be a plan in place for reconciliation.

  9. Our church is strongly considering hiring someone as our worship pastor who lived in sexual addiction for 17-18 years (pornography and adultery). He was caught three years ago. He has been in a restoration program. Those who are close to him and are holding him accountable believe he is ready to return to church leadership. Our pastor brought him before us and they told us his story. About 8 months ago, our former worship pastor was caught in sin (but not anywhere near commiting the act of adultery). I just don’t know if we are ready to take on someone who lived in such a pattern of sin and betrayal for so many years.

  10. I know there’s a lot of viewpoints, angles and people to consider in such a matter as uncovered sexual sin. Its not an easy or simple process to get through, emotionally or psychologically, but spiritually, if the church were in the place of the calling God has placed on us we could handle both the temptation and the healing process of restoration. If we really want to do what Jesus did, say where are thine accusers who are without sin? and when none can condemn let the church say neither do I condemn you , “BUT” go and sin no more. Jesus also told the disciples if thy brother offend thee in a day 7 times 70 forgive him.

    It’s amazing that with all the churches and ministries growing, expanding, buying selling, building, and planting that the area we lack the most, are deficient the most and need the most is in our spiritual growth of truly becoming like Christ.

    If that was what the church body over generations had been building ( preaching Ephe 4:12-13) we would have much less of these struggles, on either side when it comes to dealing with sin. ) Perfecting the saints means, we are born again, believers, children of God who still need to learn to bring our complete being under submission to the will of God especially regarding holiness. The preaching is suppose to bring us to a perfect man unto the full stature of the measure of Jesus Christ. So it’s not a leader’s fault, a member’s fault or a wounded spouse or disappointed congregation. It’s the incomplete gospel that has permeated throughout the whole world. Christians/saints/believers don’t sin! We do, we have and God knows we might again but that’s his will. So our preaching needs to focus on how to stand in the liberty…how to resist the devil…how to overcome evil with good,…how to walk in the spirit and not obey the lust of the flesh….for the most part the church after all these years after penTecost is showing very little spiritual maturity and what if JESUS WERE TO COME BACK TODAY?

    Jesus dealt with sin, the apostles dealt with sin, but the general church today seems to be mystified when it comes to handling sin among the church, we don’t seem to know if they ( offender) are or were ever saved, did they really repent, are they really sorry, they should have never been up in the first place, some want to put them out, others want to leave themselves, not realizing the only true church you can find is the church Christ built upon a rock, no matter where the fellowship meets.

    The bible says the spirit makes intercession for the saints, Jesus makes intecession for them who he can/will save to the uttermost. If the church want to cut off those overtaken in a fault, then we can forget about ever reaching sinners who have never been saved.

    I will close this post sorry for the length.

    I have suffered a strong and lasting battle with pornography and many sexual sins beyond just looking a magazines, videos, internet, 900 phone calls, and video parlors. I have carried out just about everything I ever saw,.. in the flesh.
    I am separated and facing divorce, possibly losing a second newly built home, and one thing I’ve thought was with all these church folks around me, who of them could I have really of gone to. So now God has brought to me people hooked on drugs, labeled alcoholics, sex struggles and the first two things I deal with is you are/were wrong,.. God loves you and has made a way for you to be free.

  11. “Christians/saints/believers don’t sin! We do, we have and God knows we might again but that’s his will.”

    I forgot to put not in there. not his will!!!

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