Buzz by Olumide Iyanda
Email: firstname.lastname@example.org Twitter: @mightyng
The rise in cases of moral failures by church leaders is an inconvenient truth many churchgoers do not want to hear. And in a few cases where allegations have been made against ‘anointed’ men of God by people who should know, many of their followers (or fans) rise in their defence with retorts like “thou shall not judge”, “he is human after all”, “let he who is without sin cast the first stone” and “it is between him and God”.
Make no mistake about it, nobody is infallible. And in a world as permissive as ours, the statistics of pastors having inappropriate relationship with members of the opposite sex in and outside of their churches will make Playboy publisher, Hugh Hefner, green with envy. But while some churches are looking for ways to deal with this onslaught, others simply live in denial, arguing that it is Christ that justifies. The superfine image of Nigerian men of God and the hypnotic hold they have on their flock have become their shield from probing questions.
Scratch the surface, and you will probably discover that sexual indiscretion is not the only millstone hanging around the neck of Nigeria’s religious. A pastor who commits adultery would most likely have established a pattern of deception, misinformation and outright lying over a period of time. And if he could be unfaithful in sexual matters chances are that the finances of the church are not in safe hands. Neither would the souls kept in his care. In the words of John Armstrong, a reformed theologian and director of Reformation and Revival Ministries, “Adultery by pastors . . . is an even greater sin than adultery in general. Why? . . . Their sin becomes a grievous public assault upon the nuptial image of Christ (the groom) and the church (His Bride), because the pastor is called upon to be a role model of purity as an under shepherd in service to the Bridegroom Himself”.
Rather than confess, go for counselling and try to reconcile with their family and church, some adulterous pastors – urged on by their followers – have simply turned the House of God to a den where people are robbed of their substance to feed the lust of church proprietors. They defile their matrimonial bed as well as the altar before which they stand. Churches are run as business models designed by their overseers to fleece the flock. Good looks and sweet tongues have been used to unlock people’s wallets and spread their legs.
Someone reminded me last week that I should mind what I say about fallen men of God because “the same measure you mete shall be measured back to you,” asking “who has made you a judge over another’s matter?” But is it too much to expect a pastor to be blameless, the husband of one wife, temperate, sober-minded, of good behaviour, hospitable, able to teach” even if everybody else isn’t? A man who preaches against sexual immorality from the pulpit should do a better job of disciplining his body and bringing it to subjection than the people who look up to him for spiritual direction, so that when he is done preaching he himself does not become disqualified. That though is if he is sincere in his calling in the first place.
A shepherd should be mindful that by committing adultery he has simply given the devil a weapon to batter the church with. Other ministers are tainted by being in the same profession as he. His family too will be wounded, perhaps irreparably. Do not be surprised if his wife files for divorce. Teaching church members about the different levels of grace and exchanging body fluids with them is a disaster waiting to happen.
It can happen to anybody. Don’t let anyone tell you otherwise. The difference is that some acknowledge their transgression and take extraordinary steps to reconcile with God and the people they have hurt. Others simply wait for the matter to blow over so they can continue with business as usual.
It is sad when a minister falls into adultery and it becomes public knowledge. His ministry will suffer and his genuine followers will feel betrayed. It is even worse when the church carries on as if all is well and everybody is told to keep pursuing their own salvation with “fear and trembling”. Yes, anybody can fall and it takes two people to commit adultery but the man with the calling has a greater duty of care to his flock.
Given the character of many pastors and the atmosphere at their designer churches, some people go for services for non-religious reasons. There are wanton seductresses in churches as there are at night clubs. Such people gyrate the most when a hand is laid on their heads in public and other body parts in private. In most cases, what happens behind closed doors manages to stay behind closed doors. A few cases have however become public knowledge. That is the soap opera playing out presently in some Nigerian churches.
We ain’t seen nothing yet. A lot more will be revealed in the days ahead “for the eyes of the Lord run to and fro throughout the whole earth.” (2 Chronicles 16:9)