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Lifehacker had an interesting post the other day on cheating.  I hear way too many stories about cheating pastors.  I always wonder why and how they ever get to this point.  This is really something to consider: Cheating doesn’t occur just because it’s a possibility, but because the alternative to cheating is potentially worse. Say you’re back in high school and you have a history test in the morning. History is your worst subject because you don’t like it and can’t seem to memorize a bunch of dates you find incredibly boring. As a result, there’s a very likely chance you will fail the test and it will 1) negatively impact you grade, which 2) will negatively impact your chances of getting into the college you want, which 3) will result in an angry parent. Alternatively, you can cheat and be guaranteed a good grade. This, of course, comes with the risk of getting caught but you have to weigh that risk against the risk of failing”which is basically an assurance. Comparing this to the dating scenario, more people will choose to try and fail because it’s the more assured outcome, like not asking someone out for dinner. Cheating happens when the risk of getting caught cheating isn’t as scary as failing. With the dating scenario, you’re more likely to ask someone out if being alone is scarier than being rejected. When cheating becomes the more attractive outcome, people choose it. (Via Lifehacker.) Wow… I really like that quote:
Cheating happens when the risk of getting caught cheating isn’t as scary as failing.
Could this be true? Is this why so many pastors fall into the temptation of cheating on their wives, losing their career, their families, and everything they’ve worked hard and given their lives for? Does cheating happen for a pastor when the act of getting caught cheating isn’t really as scary as overall failure? Food for thought. What do YOU think? Todd  

On February 17, 2011 Pastor Dirk Jackson was formally charged with raping a 12 year old girl in 2003 when he worked as a teacher at a Christian academy. Komo 4 News Jesus warns in Luke 17:2, “It would be better for [those who cause others to stumble] to be thrown into the sea with a millstone tied around their neck than to cause one of these little ones to stumble.” (NIV) No doubt, raping a child can cause their faith to stumble. And yet, Jesus follows with a command to forgive those who repent, even if they have offended repeatedly. Does Jackson deserve God’s grace? Does he deserve ours? Or do we cleanse the church of those who bring harm and move forward without them? You may think me mad, but Jackson needs God’s grace and as Christians we are commanded to love him. But grace and justice are two different things. One does not cancel out the other. Jackson (I will not call him pastor) has proven that leaders in the church can fall as easily as anyone else. None of us are perfect. And we have all fallen. All of us. Comparing our sins against one another only takes the focus off the underserved grace God offers each of us. I do hope the truth comes out. And if this man is found guilty of his charges, I hope he faces the justice he deserves and that he is never again allowed to be alone with a child. But I too need God’s forgiveness to be whole. I can compare my sin as much as I want, but on Judgment Day when we all stand in holy court, it will not be those who have sinned the least that face freedom and glory, it’s those who have chosen to receive God’s forgiveness. Am I crazy? What do you think?

Some thoughts from Mark Driscoll on why he’s getting so much flack… from Christians… on his new book on sex and marriage.  Here are some exerpts from a piece he wrote for CNN’s Religion Blog: You try to write a book on marriage and sex with your wife and next thing you know there are a lot of ants crashing your picnic. My wife, Grace, and I recently published “Real Marriage: The Truth About Sex, Friendship, & Life Together,” which quickly became a No. 1 New York Times best-seller. In it, we’re brutally honest about our past struggles, share the lessons we learned along the way and talk frankly about sex. Criticism has ensued. If you wish to find that criticism, just do a Google search. You’ll find plenty. My intent here is not to name names and pick a fight with my critics, but to provide context on why there is criticism. We knew before we wrote the book that we’d catch a lot of flak, especially on the chapters dealing with sex. We also knew the criticism would come from every direction, as some people would think we went too far and others would think we didn’t go far enough. But we wrote it anyway. Why? Simply put, we want to help marriages — and single people aspiring to marry — and we wanted to do so in a way that is practical, biblical and applicable to the reality of today’s culture. If the book accomplishes that, we’ll take the criticism in exchange for helping people. We don’t think our book is perfect and we tell folks upfront (literally in the preface) to take what is helpful and leave the rest… /// Many Christians, because of upbringing and past church experiences, view sex as gross and something that should not be talked about in public… Those who view sex as gross criticize our book because we speak too openly and frankly about sex for their taste. The accusation is that the private counsel that pastors give to people in the church isn’t suitable to give in a public context. But many critics tend to want to debate nuances of theology rather than engage head-on the practical realities that many people are facing… While it may be fun for bloggers and critics to discuss these things, our hope was that couples would instead be the ones having these conversations to build their marriages in ways that don’t pressure, abuse or use one another. /// There are some who think about almost nothing else but sex, treating it as a kind of god. This can happen in the form of addiction to sex or porn, severe promiscuity, adultery or participating in various sexual acts that the Bible speaks against, making personal preference and desire more important than what God says about sex… Those who view sex as a god criticize our book because it doesn’t go far enough for them. Because we teach that the Bible does call some sex acts sin, such as pornography, premarital sex, homosexuality, adultery and more, we are criticized for being judgmental, prudish, antiquated and fundamentalist.. In the end, for conservatives we’re too liberal, and for liberals we’re too conservative. We can’t win. /// Thoughts? You can read more here.

Current Events
Watch out, Mark Driscoll and Ed Young… Introducing Patrick Wooden, Pastor at Upper Room Church of God in Christ in Raleigh, NC… All I can say… this makes Mark Driscoll like like a G-Rated Disney film.  Viewer discretion is advised: Will the pendulum ever swing back on this sexual stuff?  Will we, at some point, just say… uh… let’s not say that. I think we’ve gone from not ever talking about sex to over-talking about it in some circles. It’s a valuable topic; and a vital area for the church to discuss… but I think the pendulum will switch back very soon from the graphic to the more sensitive. At least I hope so. I’d love to hear your thoughts. HT:  Group Sects

Get ready for (at least as far as I know) the world’s first ‘Christian’ sex toy store.  Following is part of a story from The Daily Beast.  Note:  If the mention of sex toys makes you nervous, uncomfortable, or just cringe slightly, you may want to stop now and head over to my post about this guy. From the Daily Beast:
Joyce’s sex life can be divided into two acts: before and after the Turbo 8 Accelerator.
The evangelical Christian from California’s central valley had never had an orgasm alone nor with her husband of 25 years. “I didn’t know I wasn’t having one,” the 59-year-old mother of two told The Daily Beast. Yet after chatting with some church girlfriends, she learned what she was missing. “’All that happens to you?’” she asked. “They looked at me like I was crazy.”
Joyce, who requested that we use only her first name, and her equally devout spouse never would have found the bullet-shaped vibrator or the array of “marital aids” they’ve ordered since, if it wasn’t for the Christian sex toy website Book 22—introduced to her by a friend after their chat. “I’m a Christian, but this is awesome,” she said. “It was like being newlyweds again.”
Sex and religion have long been perceived to be at odds, with carnal pleasures representing sin more than saintliness. Yet in recent years, a handful of savvy Christian, Jewish and Muslim entrepreneurs have embraced the notion that the two can coexist in a way that jibes with doctrine—and even glorifies traditional values by strengthening marriages.
Enter the religious sex-toy industry, which carefully markets and sells a range of sexual-pleasure products to the faithful. With the voice and disposition of a summer-camp director, Joy Wilson founded Book 22 a decade ago, when she had trouble “getting her body to respond” to her husband after their second child, and her online search for remedies yielded scandalous imagery that offended more than it helped. The pioneering site, named after the Biblical book also known as the Song of Solomon, now faces growing competition from rival vendors including Hooking Up Holy, Intimacy of Eden, and Covenant Spice.
And the industry grew exponentially this fall with the launch of the Orthodox Jewish shop Kosher Sex Toys, and last year with the Muslim vendor El Asira. The sites even enjoy the support of many community leaders. “Religious people do it like everybody else,” said David Ribner, a rabbi and sex therapist based in Israel, who works as a consultant for Kosher Sex Toys. “Why shouldn’t they have access to toys that make their lives more satisfying?”
To be clear, the “religious people” targeted are married, heterosexual religious people; pious sex-toy vendors market their products exclusively to these couples. Unlucky in love and looking for some solitary fun after morning prayers? Look elsewhere. You can read more here. Hate to ask your opinion… but do you have one on this?    

Current Events
Mark and Grace Driscoll’s new book, Real Marriage, reached the top spot on the list of bestselling books for both and for a while on Monday despite not being available in stores until Tuesday. You can order a copy of “Real Marriage” from right here if you’re so inclined. My question to you is… are YOU planning on reading the book? Respond back with one of the following: 1.  Already read it.  Loved it. 2.  Already read it.  It was ok. 3.  Already read it.  Complete heresy. 4.  Gonna read it… can’t wait. 5.  I’ll probably read it, but won’t like it. 6.  I like books like this because it gives me something to complain/gripe about, so I’ll probably read it. 7.  Not gonna bring that smut into my house. There… I’ve given you some pretty good choices.  Let me know your thoughts.  You can even give a brief explanation if you like!

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 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. via Pastoral Infidelity: Problems and Solutions – Pastors and Christian Leadership Resources. // 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.

Mark Driscoll’s new book hits the shelves today.  It’s called “Real Marriage” and if you like Driscoll, you’ll like this book.  I got a preview copy a few weeks ago, and did enjoy reading it. I won’t do a long book review (I rarely do here), but here are a couple that you may find interesting: Tim Challies (really didn’t care for the book that much) Denny Burk also provides commentary here. The most interesting (and controversial) part of the book is the chapter on specific sexual practices.  Here’s how Mark introduces the chapter:
If you are older, from a highly conservative religious background, live far away from a major city, do not spend much time on the internet, or do not have cable television, the odds are that you will want to read this chapter while sitting down, with the medics ready on speed dial… If you are one of those people who do not know that the world has changed sexually, read this chapter not to argue or fight, but rather to learn about how to be a good missionary in this sexualized culture, able to answer people’s questions without blushing…
Driscoll then talks about specific sexual acts and behavior and answers the question as to whether or not that act is permissible in marriage.  (I haven’t read anything so blatantly detailed since Tim and Beverly LaHaye’s “The Act of Marriage” book). Whether you end up liking the book or not, you’ll find that Mark and Grace are very vulnerable throughout.  They share personal details about their marriage and life that you don’t get in most books. For that reason, while some people won’t agree with everything in the book, they’ll at least be able to relate. You can order a copy of “Real Marriage” from right here…

From this month’s issue of Relevant Magazine:
Eighty percent of young, unmarried Christians have had sex. Two-thirds have been sexually active in the last year. Even though, according to a recent Gallup poll, 76 percent of evangelicals believe sex outside of marriage is wrong.
I’m not sure where the first statistic comes from. Does that sound right to you? And if so… how does that affect what the church will look like in the next years? Why is the percentage so high?  Is it higher than it was 10 years ago (really)? What must we do to stop the trend? CAN we stop the trend? via Why more evangelical Christians are having premarital sex   Help me answer these questions!  Give your thoughts below… (Maybe we should just give every teenager a copy of these CD): Todd

Current Events
A jury has awarded $1.4 million to a Minnesota woman who accused her Methodist pastor of sexually abusing her. The woman accused 67-year-old Donald Dean Budd of pursuing an inappropriate relationship at a time when she was emotionally vulnerable. The Hennepin County jury concluded this week that Budd must pay $1 million in punitive damages. Of another $410,000 in compensatory damages, Budd must pay $246,000 and the rest is to be paid by the Minnesota Annual Conference of the United Methodist Church. A call to Budd’s home Saturday rang unanswered, and a message left with his attorney wasn’t immediately returned. The woman’s attorney, Robert Hajek, said the jury’s verdict was “very responsible and reasonable.” Budd was a pastor at McKinley United Methodist Church in Winona. Prior to that, he served in Methodist churches in Harmony, Minn., and Eau Claire, Wis. He is no longer a pastor. The woman filed a civil lawsuit in 2009, alleging that she sought counseling from Budd while he was a pastor at McKinley between 2003 and 2005. A sexual relationship developed, leading to Budd’s eventual conviction on a pair of felony sexual-abuse charges. The woman said she reported the relationship to the conference in 2006. She accused officials of dropping the investigation and calling the woman uncooperative and not credible, court documents said. Her civil lawsuit claimed that the conference should have done a better job of investigating Budd’s sexual misconduct, according to a Winona Daily News report. Victoria Rebeck, a spokeswoman for the conference, disputed the charge. She said the conference and its bishop acted immediately when notified about the allegations by placing Budd on restriction and removing his credentials. via Superior Telegram | Superior, Wisconsin. //Wow… 1.4 million dollars.  That’s a lot of communion cups and hymnals. I hear ‘cover up’ stories all the time.  When bad things happen, boards, conferences, and denominations tend many times to want to cover them up. This time it bit them in the butt. When accusations happen these days, a full investigation must be done immediately and completely.  And there can be no cover up.  Information is too instantaneous and widespread these days.  The truth will get out.  (If not the truth, then at least rumors… which again will doom you if you’ve not done the full investigation). There should be no cover-up in the body of Christ.  And if there was in this case, it was found out. Your thoughts? Todd