When a pastor, professor, or friend in the church falls from sexual sin, does it make a sound? Yes. And it’s louder than when a tree falls.
Sobs. Deep sighs. Groans. Screamed whys and how-could-yous. Sick stomachs. Brokenness. Pride. Wreckage. These all make sounds. Awful, gut-wrenching sounds.
We have all heard the distressing thud from the falls of leaders in the evangelical church. Prominent pastors, seminary professors, leadership gurus, and authors have faced the music—and it’s in a key no one wants to hear.
No one thinks, “Here’s how I want to ruin my marriage, ministry, job, home, or local church.” No one plots how to disrupt the web of relationships they’ve built with friends, disciples, and peers over the years. But it happens. And the principalities and powers over this present age are looking at the rest of us. Will we endure?
What will you do to fight this fall? A lot more can be said than what I have to offer. Jared Wilson said it well. But I have two simple bits of counsel to offer all of us: 1) Don’t 2) Do.
Here’s what I tell myself every time another report of a fallen leader hits the social media waves or news of a member in the church comes to me via text. I’ve said this to our elders, countless church planters, and leaders:
Don’t ruin your life for an orgasm.
Brothers, don’t. Boil it down, and these men were swindled by thinking a few seconds in bed were worth bankruptcy.
One moment of physical pleasure is not worth the undoing of everything that’s been built. The sneaking around, the deceptive excitement, the sinful flirting all chases this one moment. Chasing a volcanic wind that will burn you to a death-bed. Listen to Solomon:
“Though the lips of the forbidden woman drip honey and her words are smoother than oil, in the end she’s as bitter as wormwood and as sharp as a double-edged sword. Her feet go down to death; her steps head straight for Sheol.” (Proverbs 5:3–5 CSB)
The kisses of a forbidden woman will cause you to kiss your ministry goodbye. When the thrill of sin is gone, what is left but the bitter regret of disobeying the risen Christ, dishonoring your wife and kids, and disappointing your community?
“Keep your way far from her. Don’t go near the door of her house…At the end of your life, you will lament when your physical body has been consumed, and you will say, ‘How I hated discipline, and how my heart despised correction. I didn’t obey my teachers or listen closely to my instructors. I am on the verge of complete ruin before the entire community.’” (Proverbs 5:8–14 CSB)
So, brothers, don’t ruin your life for an orgasm. I often encourage people to read all of Proverbs, every month, by reading the corresponding chapter to the day’s date. You do that, and you will be reminded about sexual sin, deceit, the joy of marriage, proper romance, and living in the fear of God every month. Reminders we all need as disciples dragging their cross behind Christ.
Lastly, let’s crucify the impulse of pride, scoffing at those who have been shipwrecked by sex. As John Bradford said, “There but for the grace of God, go I.” Proceed with humble caution. Skip this step, and a beacon goes off, alerting the satanic powers of a proud man who isn’t taking heed lest he fall. Proceed with a serious call to humility, holiness, and love for Christ. Do kill, confess, turn from any known sin. Delayed repentance is a dangerous game.
Christ can restore what the locusts have eaten—and what idolatrous love has destroyed too. Will ministries be restored? That’s not my job to say. Marriages? I’ve seen it happen. An empty grave is for such a time as this.