Dr. Chet Weld is the Director of Pastoral Counseling at Casas Church in Tucson, AZ. Here is part of a very interesting piece he recently wrote for Crosswalk.com:
How common is adultery among pastors? About 15 years ago I read an interesting study that concluded the following: 10% of all psychologists have had an affair with a client; and 30% of all pastors have had an affair with a member of the congregation.
I think we can account for the difference between the 10% and the 30% in this way: Psychologists have to take a course in ethics, which includes teachings on how to draw boundaries with clients, how to seek counseling for themselves in order to understand their how to gain victory over personal flaws, how to avoid temptations in the office, how to make appropriate referrals, learning professional consequences of inappropriate behavior (losing one’s license), grasping the importance of “doing no harm” to a client, learning about the requirement to report another psychologist that you hear about that’s having an affair, and other important ethical and legal teachings.
I’ve had two years of seminary and three years of Bible College, and I never took such a course. If seminaries and Bible Colleges presently provide such a course, I’m not aware of this.
Also, pastors are frequently alone with women, alone in an office without a window, and sometimes even go to a woman’s house alone. Pastors are also “targets” for some women who idealize them, some of whom are extremely needy and flirtatious and who are sometimes mentally ill and without treatment. My father, a Methodist minister, was plagued by a mentally ill woman who thought that he was the Messiah. My father was able to refer her to a psychiatrist friend at Butler University. Of course, this didn’t stop her from visiting my father’s church when we moved from Indianapolis to Columbus, Ohio. I don’t know what became of her, but I remember that my father well documented all interactions and stayed far away from even the appearance of evil.
Basically, many pastors are “sitting ducks.” Of course, their protection against immorality should be their deep and personal commitment to and relationship with Christ. How sad that this is not enough.
Have you known any ‘sitting ducks’?
Perhaps you’ve been a sitting duck at some point in your ministry.
Do you buy Dr. Weld’s reasoning for why pastor’s goof up more than Psychologists.
Where is the breakdown.
If you’ve ever had an affair or considered an affair while you were in ministry… what was the trigger? How did it happen?
You can post anonymously if you like… but I’m interested in how it happened. And it may be helpful to keep others from falling in the future.