Avoiding sexual temptation in the church office

April 6, 2011

Every church pastor rubbing elbows with an attractive secretary, ministry leader, or vivacious volunteer needs to know they’re bouncing on a high diving board over a pool with no water in it.

If a pastor has begun delicate counseling sessions with the opposite sex that delves into intimate marital issues, it may be time for a referral.

Gregory Peck & Susan Hayward in "David and Bathsheba"

Innocent feelings of fondness or affection for the opposite sex can turn into a torrent of desire with shocking speed – all fueled by an unseen enemy who wants to devour you and your ministry.

I caught a posting by Ed Stetzer, with LifeWay Christian Resources, where he mentions some commonsense boundaries established by Saddleback Church for their staff. Here are Saddleback’s  “Ten Commandments”:

1.  “Thou shalt not go to lunch alone with the opposite sex.

2. “Thou shalt not have the opposite sex pick you up or drive you places when it is just the two of you.

3. “Thou shalt not kiss any attender of the opposite sex or show affection that could be questioned.

4. “Thou shalt not visit the opposite sex alone at home.

5. “Thou shalt not counsel the opposite sex alone at the office, and thou shalt not counsel the opposite sex more than once without that person’s mate. Refer them.

6. “Thou shalt not discuss detailed sexual problems with the opposite sex in counseling. Refer them.

7. “Thou shalt not discuss your marriage problems with an attender of the opposite sex.

8. “Thou shalt be careful in answering emails, instant messages, chatrooms, cards or letters from the opposite sex.

9. “Thou shalt make your co-worker your protective ally.

10. “Thou shalt pray for the integrity of other staff members.”

(The first three do not apply to unmarried staff.)

I  must admit to having violated several of these commandments, which allowed me to skirt the edges of disaster. Several things saved me from a fall: being in God’s Word daily, my involvement in a men’s accountability group where we had to answer tough questions, the prayers of the saints, and Jesus fighting for me. 

With the rise of social media, a possible addition to the eighth commandment could include a warning about becoming Facebook friends with former girlfriends or boyfriends. 

One of the most devastating times in ministry for me was to watch a pastor fall due to moral failure. It almost crushed my young faith, caused many to flee the church, and had horrible consequence in the pastor’s life and career.

Now older and a bit wiser – but still walking on clay feet – I see the importance of maintaining appropriate boundaries for victorious living.