A little over a year ago I received a telephone call from a close friend and well-known pastor. Expecting our normal fun-filled banter I was devastated to learn that he was involved in an adulterous affair. Over the next several days he confessed to his church, stepped down as lead pastor and began making decisions about his future. To say that I was disappointed…and have been disappointed at times since…is an understatement. However, as I told him over the phone that day…my friendship would remain…and I have gone to great lengths to make sure that it has. True friendship does not hinge on whether the person is following God or not. True friendship also does not hinge on whether you always agree with the person or not. At the same time…friendship should not make us blind to sin…and the damage sin causes.
The consequences of sin knows no boundaries. It is not limited by time…by generation…or by a desire to forgive and forget. Integrity and trust are hard things to initially develop…devastating to lose…and almost impossible to regain once forfeited. In essence my friend gave up his God-given birth right for a bowl of soup. What he had will never return in the manner he once enjoyed…it is gone for good. Restoration is possible…a future in ministry is possible…but the ability to undo the damage that has taken place is not possible…only the ability to diminish it some.
Every pastor or leader in ministry should take the time to go read Rick Howerton’s 4-part interview (Part 1, Part 2, Part 3 and Part 4) with fallen and restored pastor Brad Johnson. While I am sure there will differing views on the idea of restoration…my hope is that church leaders will gain an understanding of the pain and devastation an extra-marital affair can cause. That pain and devastation is doubled when it involves a trusted leader of a church. Many of us need to do a better job of affair-proofing our marriages, our ministries and our commitments to God. Our churches…and the Kingdom of God…depend on it.