Sexual lines no pastor should cross

Recently on this blog, we did an article on “7 women pastors need to watch out for.”  Someone who just read it wanted to know why we put the blame on the women when pastors are more likely to be the sexual predator.  “Google that,” she suggested, “and see for yourself.”  My only defense is that in the body of the article, we said, “Sometimes women are the victims; sometimes they are the victimizers.” However, my critic is correct. And thus, what follows….

I’ve known more than one pastor who was a sexual predator.  And, if it makes the reader feel any better, every one of them is out of the ministry now.

My observation however is that no serial adulterer occupying the pastor’s office entered the ministry with such sordid intentions.  He fell into sin and one thing led to another. (Sound familiar? It’s how life works.)

So, what follows is for young ministers in particular who have not been snared in the lust-trap and wish to make sure they don’t. (For your information, I invited my wife Margaret to add her observations.)

Here are 7 lines pastors do not want to cross.

1) Do not use cologne. Women are sensitive to fragrances, my wife says, which is why they wear them in the first place. When a man wears them, he sends out a subtle signal, the type no wise minister needs to be emitting.

2) Do not hug women.  One pastor said he hugs no one between the ages of 6 and 66.

To the minister who argues that “Well, I am a toucher and people need to be hugged,” I reply: a) Granted, but let women hug women and men hug men, if necessary and appropriate. b) In most cases, your “touching” indicates some physical or emotional need in yourself, and is not what healthy ministers do.

Even if your intentions are pure, you make yourself vulnerable to charges of inappropriate touching. And–do not miss this–in the minds of many, to be charged is to be convicted. Best to guard against these dangers.

3) Do not be in your office with a woman alone.

A pastor of a large church told some of us why he does not counsel in his office. “All she has to do is run out of the office screaming and your ministry is over.” When someone catches him following a worship service with “Pastor, could I come by and talk with you about a problem?” he answers, “Let’s sit in a pew right over here and talk now!” Their visit is in public, but far enough removed from people so that no one hears their conversation.

4) Do not be in the church alone with a woman.

This is more difficult for small churches that have no one on staff but the pastor.  In my first post-seminary church, the secretary worked half-days. Often she and I were in the building alone all morning. In those cases, you do the best you can at keeping your distance, making sure the doors are unlocked and drop-ins are welcome, and when possible, have others in the office too.

A pastor I used to serve with would sometimes ask me to remain after hours because he was counseling a woman, and wanted to make sure someone else was in the building.

5) Do not make pastoral visits alone. If you knock on a door and find that a woman is home alone, do not go inside but visit briefly at the door. Many pastors take a deacon or their wife with them on such calls.

6) Do not compliment a young woman on her appearance.  My wife says with women middle-aged and older, you can say, “You’re looking nice today.” But do not compliment a woman on her dress, her figure, tell her that her diet’s really working, and such. You are stepping over an invisible line.

7) Do not fantasize about women.  Most sins of a sexual nature had their beginnings long before as the individual imagined certain situations with some individual. Then, when the opportunity presented itself, he was ready since he had been over that ground a hundred times before.

“Let the words of my mouth and the meditations of my heart be acceptable unto Thee, O Lord, my Rock and my Redeemer” (Psalm 19:14).

The “do nots” clearly have no end. But here are 7 “do’s” which a minister will want to observe to keep  the enemy at bay….

1) When complimented inappropriately, laugh it off and change the subject.

“Oooh, pastor, you look so good today.”  “Mmmm, preacher, I like the way that suit looks on you.” “Have you been working out, Brother Al? You’re looking good.”

The insecure pastor soaks this stuff up like a sponge. But you are not insecure. “You are complete in Christ” (Colossians 2:10).

Do not acknowledge the compliment. It will only encourage her. Laugh briefly, then ask about her family or something–anything!–to change the subject.

2) Anticipate situations that may arise during the day and plan appropriately.  That is, if you know a woman is coming for counseling, make sure your secretary or another minister is just outside the door.  Pray always the Lord will guard you and give you wisdom about these things.

3) When you are close to some woman other than your wife, and you begin to sense all the signs of attraction–your temperature rising, your blood pressure elevating–walk away quickly. Make up an excuse, even if it’s only that “I just remembered something; I’ll be right back.”  Then, get to your office or pretend to make a phone call and talk to the Lord. Ask for His divine protection. Just because your chemistry with that person is strong does not make it right. As a mature follower of Jesus Christ, you are beyond running your life by your feelings. (You are, aren’t you?)

4) Center your love, your energies, your everything on the Lord and your wife.  (The Lord does not mind being lumped together with her. He planned it that way. See Ephesians 5:25ff.)

The biggest safeguard against sexual transgressions in the lives of ministers is a good relationship with one’s spouse. After numerous cautions against sexual sin, the writer of Proverbs counseled his son, “Drink water from your own cistern, and fresh water from your own well” (Proverbs 5:15).  In the margin of my Bible, I’ve written: “Focus on your wife, son!” Read on past verse 15 and he gets more explicit that that, with vs. 19 being one you probably won’t read in church, but it definitely communicates!

5) Have an accountability partner or a mentor. Or both.

If you are truly wise, you will have someone–usually an older, mature minister–to whom you can say anything. Such a veteran pastor has seen it all, has the scars to prove it, and has come up a winner.  (The one thing you do not want in such a mentor is someone who has never suffered! Spurgeon said, “God gets His best soldiers out of the highlands of affliction.”)

Once you find such a friend, you must meet with him frequently enough to be comfortable in speaking what’s on your mind. He must be a man of prayer who will pray with you and for you later.  There is no way to over-emphasize this.

6) A healthy fear of the Lord is a good thing.

One pastor’s wife said of her husband, “I don’t have to worry about Frank straying. He’s too afraid of God.” He laughed and said, “You’ve got that right!”

Someone asked Andrew Murray the greatest thought that had ever occupied his mind. He answered, “My accountability to God.” Indeed.  It’s enough to strike terror into our hearts and to drive us to repentance and submission. “Knowing the fear of the Lord,” Paul said, “we persuade men” (II Corinthians 5:11).

That said, we also rejoice that “There is therefore now no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus” (Romans 8:1).  Nevertheless, even the saved will give account for what they have done in this life. God help us to be found faithful.

7) Encourage younger ministers to be faithful.

If you’ve been in the Lord’s work as long as a decade, you are a veteran compared to those just leaving seminary. You have a lot to offer them.  Reach out to the new ministers coming to churches in your area.  Take them to lunch.  Then, after the first session, both of you bring your wives.  The ministry can be a lonely profession. No church member understands the stresses you and your family have to endure. That’s why no one ministers to pastors better than other ministers.

The goal is to be faithful. Do this and you will find a strength and courage beyond your own. “Beloved, if our heart does not condemn us, we have confidence before God” (I John 3:21). Yes, and confidence before men, too.

Toward the end of His ministry, our Lord told the disciples, “The prince of this world is coming, and he has nothing in me” (John 14:30).  I like that. Readers may recall I told recently of meeting an old couple in a rural Alabama cafe. The man was in his 90s and the woman wasn’t all that far behind. They had been married four years, I think, and were clearly still in love. With a twinkle in his eye, the old gentleman said, “I have iron in my blood and she has a magnetic personality.”

When the devil waves his magnet over us, let there be nothing inside us that responds to his enticements. May we say, “He has nothing in me.”

And nothing “on” me.



78 thoughts on “Sexual lines no pastor should cross

  1. I would discourage commenting on any woman’s appearance, unless she is at least 75 years old or so. Many middle-aged and older women are hungry for a man to say something flattering to them!

    • Oh come on Marcie, now you’re being nasty. Middle aged and older women are vibrant, busy women leading rewarding lives and maybe you should take a second look because they are still beautiful and most have an active sex life with boyfriends. Stop demonizing them, because you sound hateful and envious. Shame on you.

    • Some women over age 70 have been abused in childhood and never received their emotional needs for security, safety, positive regard, touch (hugs vs. slaps), etc. Having a pastor who starts to fill some of those needs can trigger a woman and she can go down a slippery slope….as can he. I say keep your hands to yourself.

  2. Joe McKeever,
    When my Facebook friend posted this article on facebook, I never even imagined that you could be serious. As I read through the article, I was waiting for the teaching from the Heart of Jesus who was not afraid to be alone with a woman. I was actually shocked that it never came. I had to go back and read his comment above the post of your article. My friend posted this on Dan J Brennan’s page with this preface, “Dan, Here is someone who needs to read your book.” It was then that I understood his intention for reposting this article. With all the Grace of GOD by the Power of the Holy Spirit that lives within me, instead of being angry with you, I just bought you Dan’s book to read. I hope it with change your heart and you will be man enough to admit that you are wrong about interacting with women. Please contact Dan J. Brennan to receive your gift from me.

      • Yes. Wish my pastor was accountable after spending 3 hours a days, 5 days a week “counseling” my wife in a park (while she was lying to me saying she was at school doing math with a fellow teacher). I seem to recall calling that “going parking” when I was in school.

  3. Hi, It’s me again. Last year in April, Dan had a gathering for those who understand that LOVE comes before one’s reputation. It reminds me of being like King Saul who cared more about what the people thought than what God thought. At the gathering, I met his wife, Sheila. This year they are having another gathering and after reading your article, I truly wish I made the time to go meet with the brethren of the Lord Jesus Christ once more. I am copying and pasting a message I sent to Sheila Brennan regarding my experience. I hope you understand the deep deep pain that women feel when men act the way you described.

    EstaAnn Ammerman said…

    You were the best thing that happened to me at last years gathering, Sheila. The Holy Spirit does not discriminate by gender who will be the one to minister to another. When the Holy Spirit uses someone “with bones in them” to connect to another bringing His loving intimacy, it can be a male or a female.
    I went to the conference to validate that the way I treated both male and female intimate friends was truly directed by the HOLY SPIRIT. Connecting intimately with loving men and women is the very same for me. There is no difference in the dynamics of the dance of friendship in the LORD. I had been oblivious all my life to “religious” segregration in friendship of men and women. My life experience in family, Catholic school, college living, the profession of Pharmacy, and being Roman Catholic for 40 years, was void of this boundary between the sexes. I was just confounded at the things I was experiencing as I persued preparing myself to pastor in the evangelical community. I was completely innocent to the divide between the sexes.
    As you know I found Dan’s book when trying to break through this barrier I had experienced and write a paper on “How to Love Others Like Jesus Loved.” Being so broken and knowing that what I was going to read in Dan’s book would completely validate the Loving God I knew all so well, I could not bare to read it before coming to the conference. I waited 11 months for the conference before reading it. I needed people who knew how to LOVE like Jesus LOVED present to me when I read it. So, I came a day early to the conference and read Sacred Unions, Sacred Passions cover to cover, the first time through. I was filled with the Love and Joy of the Lord that I always had within me. The Joy that was being robbed and beaten up within me in my new community. My guts had been pumbled with rejection and accusations from those I was trying to love so intimately. The book validated that I LOVED JUST LIKE JESUS DID. I KNEW HOW TO LOVE OTHERS LIKE MYSELF, both male and female. Shiela, I’m still fighting to love my friends the way Jesus did and I will never give up that fight. They don’t get to put me in a box at all. It’s either you let me obey my Lord and love them completely or they get rid of me completely. The Holy Spirit’s Love is what it is and cannot be diced and sliced according to Religion.”

  4. Wow! If that book is powerful enough to eradicate sinfulness, temptation, and scandal from all our lives, we need to get the word out.

    Seriously, Joe, I didn’t take your post to be a prohibition of relationships, just a warning to protect ourselves from evil.

  5. Of Course Glenn you didn’t take it as prohibition, but why would you use words like sinfulness, temptation and scandal when talking about relationships with your sisters in Christ. Do you think of your mother or your biological sisters that way? Would you drive a married woman to the same meeting with you alone in a car? Probably not. That is prohibition in my book. That is not a relationship at all. It’s a farce. It’s wrong. That is not a relationship with a sister in the LORD. That is looking at her as an object of sex only. My Lord and my God, Yes is the answer. The book is that powerful and you should get it. It will free you greatly from freud’s influence on religion and it will bring His Love and Grace which was so beautifully demonstrated through the Saints in all of History. It talks about St. Francis’ relationship with St. Claire and many many others. Here’s a sick point for you? Pastor’s better not ride in the car with a young boy either. -right? Sick. Just sick. All of it.

  6. I agree with EstaAnn. In your effort to protect your purity, you end up treating women like the enemy. yes, of course you have to be careful of people with inappropriate boundaries, we all do. But I believe our boundaries need to be internal rather than external, the circumcision of the heart, that refuses to look upon any member of the opposite sex as a sex-object, but instead sees them as a precious sister (or brother in my case), but loves them as a precious individual, created in the image of God (for His purposes, not my use. There are so many women in our churches, in our world with deep father wounds that stop them from fully using their gifts to the glory of God. They need to experience the healing love of the Father, but in a world where God mostly uses humans as His means of communicating His truth, they usually need to hear those words of affirmation and restoration from male lips. As a woman in pastoral ministry I can work with such people, pray with them and encourage them, but they need a man to really speak into the deeply broken places. Yes, risky, but if you follow Paul’s instructions to Timothy to treat women as sisters, then there is a liberty to speak Christ into one another’s lives

  7. Treating women as the enemy? No way. I’m trying to tell pastors not to be lured into temptation, and here you and EstaAnn are lambasting me for doing this. I honestly would feel the same as if you accused me of saying that only two-headed men may be preachers. What? We must be living on different planets, lady. Every preacher I know has to guard his heart so carefully in this regard, and that, believe it or not, is all I’m saying!

    • Hello Pastor Joe,

      I appreciate reading your article. I would like to know that when Pastors who have been married and now divorced for 5 or so years and along the way admit in public that remarrying is what he Desiree down the road. How is it that he compromises himself with sleeping with a woman whom he’s not married to and she too puts herself in a position to disrespect her Pastor with repeated behavior which seems to be okay with him. I was reading your article based on that type of reality. Pastors who have wives must be careful with their congregants, and single pastors who were once married for years and divorced with no intentions of getting back together. He who seeks a wife finds a good thing. Not “she who makes herself available to compromise her flesh and his, makes it alright!” I think that he fell in the flesh to such a woman who made herself available and was not keeping herself in check to not go down that road with her Pastor and secretly in church thinks its okay that he be told by his deacons to work it out with her. She hides, to be easily accepted by the small group who know what has happened. It bugs me s bad that she has no conviction to separate and get right with the Lord in her walk with the Lord. He goes along with it. Doesn’t feel that he has to answer to anyone. If he wants to remarry he has to do it right, which is Gods way or sit down and get right with God in spite of the influence of so called friends ,deacons, other ministers who may not be as accountable. Positions, titles are huge, crowds big, Live Social Media etc… There is a problem isn’t there?

  8. How on earth does any of this come across as Joe saying that pastor’s shouldn’t love women and minister to them? This is a list of common sense safeguards for a pastor to have in place. Internal safeguards are obviously a must, but ignoring external safeguards is asinine. I am honestly baffled by the negative reactions here. Naivety and self-trust does not befit a minister of the Word.

  9. Great article & well said on all points. As I said beneath your last post on facebook, my dad & brother both Pastors, have said the same things you say here. You are wise & set a good example for all Pators to follow.
    Thank you Bro. Joe.

  10. Hey Joe,

    Really, brother, if I may push back a little, where do you see this in Jesus? Any of these (do not handle, do not touch prohibitions? Col. 2:23)? Jesus surely didn’t relate to women this way. Lust is something we should be aware of like greed. You and I would see eye to eye on that.

    But I doubt if you ever tell people as a follower of Jesus, “Do not ever accept a raise in salary. There is so much power and evil in money. You know it is easier for a camel to go through the eye of a needle than for someone who is rich to enter the kingdom of God.”

    I don’t see these lines in Jesus. I don’t see them in Paul (Col. 2:22-23). We need to teach self-awareness (which I would totally agree with you) but never hug a woman? That’s our own extra-biblical easy out rather than to engage women as Jesus did. My two cents.

    • Brother Dan, you are a lot more reasonable than your disciples. (I say with a tease.) My sons have cautioned me not to respond to these–particularly from your two women pastor friends–as there becomes no end to it. However, saying that I am into the “taste not, touch not” business is quite a stretch. Makes me wonder in what other ways you get elastic with the Scriptures. You don’t “see” this in Jesus, my brother? How about “Everyone who looks on a woman to lust for her has committed adultery with her already in his heart.” Clearly, this was a huge deal to Him. And, as one of our commenters has said, show me one time in the Scriptures Jesus is alone with a woman inside a house. It’s outside in the open air, and I said as much by quoting Dr. Ed Young (Houston’s Second Baptist Church) that he counsels out in the middle of the sanctuary following a service, if he does so at all. — Let me lay this to rest by saying, “Are you and your friends not paying attention to the epidemic of adultery among ministers today? Does this not matter to you?” That’s all I’m attempting, here, to help some godly young just-starting-out ministers make it all the way home intact. Thanks for your note, Brother Dan.

  11. Bro Joe, Great advice. Many young pastors have seen ministries and marriages destroyed when things might be a bit strained at home and someone comes to them for help who is having trouble at home. It’s like matches and gasoline if not properly handled. Proper boundaries as a matter of ethical protocol are the right thing to do. we are admonished to “avoid the very appearance of evil.” I complimented the work of a children’s director as it was her first staff experience and she was doing a great job. Before you knew it, there were hints of something “amiss.” Nothing further from the truth (happily married for 34 years), but the cloud was placed by the grapevine which was all some less mature in the faith needed to shatter their trust. BTW pastor, you may never be told, but the damage is still done. We must truly be careful. Not a matter of weak faith- just common sense.
    thanks Bro Joe

  12. Joe, I really appreciate this post. I’ll paste a story I put on my Facebook page a few days ago:

    David Robinson is a retired NBA player (center for the San Antonio Spurs). He won the most valuable player award (MVP) in 1995 and is considered one of the greatest centers of all time. Robinson is a professing Christian who carefully guarded his marriage/testimony during the temptation-filled years as a professional athlete. He was known for being standoffish with female fans, refusing to engage them in lengthy conversations. Some considered this rude and questioned him about it. Here’s how he responded: “If any woman is going to get her feelings hurt, it’s not going to be my wife.”

    Here’s a rule Andy Stanley keeps:
    “I don’t get in a car with a woman. I don’t share a meal with a woman. I am never alone with a woman. I don’t talk about anything personal with a woman.”

    I know pastors in smaller church settings may be even more vulnerable since they are called on to do more counseling (with women). Thanks for sharing your advice on that as well.

      • I moved to NC at the beginning of the pandemic. I wound up with a 22 ft truck to unload alone n I am 73 years old. I called the Father’s church house to pay some help to unload the truck. I paid $100 to two young men . The paster said they would help me by cutting my grass. The paster then did something that just made me very uncomfortable. I was hanging a shade n using a small ladder n he came over n put his hands on my legs n I told him that was not appropriate. I told him not to come back. But 2 days before this happened he asked to borrow $100 to get money to his wife n I said he could work it off. He told me he would pay me back as soon as he could. It’s been 2 months n He will not answer me. I recently lost my husband n mother n am by no means rich. What can I do to get my money back

  13. Dear Dr. Joe,
    I appreciate your thoughtful discussion on boundaries between a minister and a female member of his congregation. Boundaries show respect for both parties and offer that “hedge of protection” so often needed against the gossipers and pot-stirrers. I have never been made to feel that I am the enemy just because I am female and the minister observes the boundaries. In fact, observing boundary lines does just the opposite – it reinforces the fact that I am respected (as is his wife!) and I never have to feel awkward in the minister’s presence. Finally, observing the boundaries allows the focus to be clearly on God’s message and work, with nothing blurring the view.

      • Hi Joe,

        I know a young and genuine pastor who feels he has to free with the ladies so they can he open to share their plight. I happen to be close to him.

        But how do I tell him it isn’t healthy.
        Having ladies to share deep emotional issues. Making him to sympathize emotionally with them and using intimate words like giving a hug to say sorry, commenting their beauty, all just to make them feel loved.
        I wish I could reach you privately.

        I really need help with this.
        It’s making the females too free with a married pastor. Wife complains but he says it’s nothing and it has really shown an emotional effect on her. He doesn’t see anything wrong with it. Rather feels emotions should not be allowed to lead her cos all he does is for the Body

        • Hi Ler, I know a young minister in the exact same position as you described. Entertaining online conversations with women, encouraging them to express, being gentle and caring and being there for them justifying it as him sharing his faith and saying he does it for God’s kingdom to lead people into prophecy when in reality he’s just holding private conversations with women and connecting with them while his own relationship with his wife is falling apart. Feel free to contact me to discuss on +61415145035

  14. Dear Pastor, Thank you very much for writing this. Your advice, although specifically written for pastors, can also be applicable to lay persons. There is so much wisdom and practical advice in this. Please don’t let anybody tell you or convince you otherwise. We are all commanded to “flee” from evil, and not to linger for a while to think about our options. In the face of great temptations, some people think there is no other option but to give in and then just worry later about how to avoid detection and consequences.

    May the Lord continue to use you in your ministry. God bless you! 🙂

  15. Great word brother. I minister to women regularly as in Africa many husbands die young for a variety of reasons. Having another older trusted female Saint or brother with you for counseling allows you accomplish anything for the Kingdom counseling alone can without the pitfalls. I know many men with the Holy Spirit that still fell as a result of not following your advise. Those that take issue with you on this wise advice will find their theories sorry comfort for the man fallen into adultery with someone he originally just wanted to council. Yes Jesus was alone with the woman at the well outside at a very public place. For all we know others were coming and going watering sheep or more than likely it was a frequented path. Yes he was alone with the woman caught in the act of adultery after the mob left. He said go and sin no more. And that is all that is recorded. I see nothing in Jesus ministry that indicates he spent time alone with anyone in particular. Thank you for your wise council.

  16. Great word brother. I minister to women regularly as in Africa many husbands die young for a variety of reasons. Having another older trusted female Saint or brother with you for counseling allows you accomplish anything for the Kingdom counseling alone can without the pitfalls. I know many men with the Holy Spirit that still fell as a result of not following your advise. Those that take issue with you on this wise advice will find their theories sorry comfort for the man fallen into adultery with someone he originally just wanted to council. Yes Jesus was alone with the woman at the well outside at a very public place. For all we know others were coming and going watering sheep or more than likely it was a frequented path. Yes he was alone with the woman caught in the act of adultery after the mob left. He said go and sin no more. And that is all that is recorded. I see nothing in Jesus ministry that indicates he spent time alone with anyone in particular. Thank you for your wise council.

  17. Thank you Pastor Joe, for this timely article. It addresses a pervasive issue in our churches. I have a question, however. I also read your other article, “7 Women to Watch Out For …” Both articles emphasize married men and the importance of safeguarding their marriages. What about single pastors and church leaders? I assume the need for purity is just as great? Is the urgency of the boundaries/safeguards the same? Is the list of do’s and don’ts the same for those who are unmarried?

  18. Joe,

    Great resource. I’ve noticed that the folks against what you have to say are mainly females, and do not understand the male mind as well as you or I.

    1 Timothy 3:2 – “Now the overseer is to be above reproach…”

    The devil is crafty, and he will use any ammunition or weak point in our armor he can find to destroy us and shed doubt on our ministry. I’m determined not to give him the opportunity.

    One practice that may be helpful to others, is if I am speaking with an attractive woman, I will bring up the subject of my wife, and how much I love her/how much fun we have together, etc… I also make it a regular habit when preaching and in crowd situations to talk about her and her importance to me. Let other women know that you are off limits before anything has a chance to start.

    • I personally feel that a lot of Pastors and their wives are viewing single women negatively without actually saying it. I have felt uncomfortable by past pastors, wives, deacons and their wives, this is why I feel more comfortable attending a church headed by a female Pastor where i am not treated as though i have a plague become I am single. Doesnt anyone realize that most single women are not desperate are have no interest in anyones husbands or Pastors, married or single? Isnt it quite possible that we are not interested in them by, no means? We are also trying to seek the Lord in Peace and not looking for A Piece. I feel that, all this negative energy is being focused towards the single women from those who are harbouring their own insecurities! Once again, Pastors/Deacons/Wives of …, we do not want you, we are not interested in you or yours. If you cannot control your urges, please dont accuse us, of being Harlets, etc. Yes, I do feel that the silent treatment and underlined fears of most churches and their members is a form of sex decriminalization, and it is wrong. I, dont like feeling uncomfortable in churches and not wanting to participate in functions because someone is attracted to me while I have no clue that you even exist. Stop it!!

      • This is the most honest expression in this dialoge. Stop all this insinuation that women in church (particularly, single women) are temptress.
        Here’s my experience…
        My married sisters were members of a small church that I joined soon after I got married. The pastor was young, married and well versed in scripture. My new husband worked out of town frequently and attended only occasionally. I just knew I found my church home.
        After about one month, I joined along with two others women I did not know. The pastor had his secretary relay a message that, due to time constraints, I would receive a call during the week to arrange “new member pastorial counseling”,
        I did receive a call, however, it was clearly not pastorial in nature.
        The pastor himself called and asked me all kinds of personal questions, told me not to share contents of the call with my sisters who went to the church. He proceeded to confessed his attraction towards me which was lustful in nature.
        I was stunned and could only respond with nervous laughter which did not deter his inappropriateness. He said he fell for me “instantly” and went way over the top complimenting my “beauty”, my “intelligence” and requested that I not to tell my older sisters who were long time members of the church, about the call.
        I was 24yrs old, he was 35 years old. I couldn’t wait to tell my sisters and when I did they chuckled and said “Girl, it’s no secret that Pastor is a womanizer.

      • I just had to give a thumbs up to this person for your post. You are absolutely spot on. This is exactly what’s going on in my Church. I just started going there a little over a year now. My only focus is to learn more about the Bible and perhaps meet some new female friends, but the gossip is sickening to say the least. The egos and pride also sickening. I walk away! This is not about us single women, it’s about them. If they were actually reading their Bibles and modelling Jesus they wouldn’t even have to comment on such nonsense. The arrogance that they think so highly of themselves that we are so desperate to go after their husbands or need a man’s touch to be validated is astounding. I haven’t met a man yet in a Church that’s worthy of me. Seriously! If God wants to put someone in your life, he will! If you have a relationship with Jesus you will know this is from him and not have to worry about such things. And no I’m not naive. Thank you!

  19. Joe,
    Thank you for the words concerning this…I am a Pastor (past Youth Minister) and have been careful concerning my relationships and interactions. Yours is wise advice. I heard Billy Graham say the same things about this because he would rather err on the side of caution rather than hurt the cause of Christ first and then his relationship with his wife and family next. I experienced this personally a long time ago. I was a football coach at a Christian school, with our 1st child on the way, and we had a big win one Friday night. I was walking off the field and from my rear where I could not do anything about it, one of our cheerleaders jumped on my back and was celebrating the win. I quickly asked her to get off my back and she did. This lasted about 15-20 seconds. When I got home after the game, my wife asked me, “what is this I am hearing about you and the cheerleader who jumped on your back after the game?” Someone saw this little incident and the rumors started flying. I even got called into the principals office the next Monday morning and confronted about this. All this happened quickly and I shudder to think what would have happened to my relationship with God, the damage to the kingdom of God, my wife, kids, and family, and my career and my future as a Youth Minister and now Pastor if any of this had been true. So, you are correct in we Pastors/Ministers need to be careful. The Bible clearly states that the devil is around roaming looking to kill, steal and destroy. We have got to be careful. I will gladly err on this side of caution rather than take a chance at destroying my life over “ministry” and I think it would be wise if all Pastors/Leaders and Christians did the same. To pretend to know all about the situations Jesus was in, put that into our lives and pretend to be able to conduct ourselves exactly like him is and can be fatal because first, we are not perfect and sinless like Jesus and second, Proverbs tells us to guard our hearts which is the wellspring of our lives. We would be wise to take the advice of the Scripture and other wise men who have walked before us. Thanks again for the words.

  20. Thank you so much for these words. 🙂 It’s amazing to me how naive women can be about the struggles men have (read For Women Only, ladies!), and wonderful to see godly men taking great care to honor both their own wives and the other women in the church. I know that I, for one, would feel pretty weird if either of my pastors gave me a hug!

  21. Bro. Joe, my grandson is new in the ministry and I would like for him to read this article. After fifty six years in the pastoral ministry, I am thankful to be able to say that I have never been accused of improper actions involving money or morals. One of my rules was: I tell my wife everything such as where I am going, who I was with, and etc. If a person did not want my wife to know something, then they should not tell me. Keep these good writings coming!

  22. thank God for this…..the very scar we had, was there because we allow God to work in us….stay on ur guard against all form of sin…..the coming of the is at hand.

  23. I agree with brother Joe on this 100%. My husband follows these rules in his job and in his church ministry(young adults) and I LOVE him for following those rules!!!

  24. I really enjoyed this article! I find it to be biblical because King Solomon has so much to say about to this in Proverbs. I like what he says, “He did not know it would cost his life.” Proverbs 7:23. Keep ministering to pastors.

  25. I recently lost my beloved mother, I found her dead in her chair on that dreadful day, my brother has been no help since her death I had to take her ashes up to Liverpool with my daughter and he is now only interested in the money to be made from the sale of her bungalow.

    All this has left me very low and my local pastor invited me to talk to him about it , I have seen him twice now and find it helpful to talk. However, he recently told me that he has to protect himself and needs his wife there when I visit. Whilst I understand to a point his feelings this has left me feeling as though he does not trust me, it never occurred to me to do anything untoward and now I feel that I have to l stop the counselling sesssions as by saying this he has added to my anxiety which is the last thing I need and I certainly don’t want him to feel awkward. I wish that everyone was not looked at as a temptresss, there are some of us who genuinely need a friend to talk to.

  26. My sister, I really feel for you. God will take care of you. But you know, we Ministers have the onerous responsibity to take care of seemingly innocent little foxes that possesses the potentials to destroy our tender vines. If you cannot discourse in the presense of his wife with him, then I think you better quit before your action sends another GOD’S GENERAL to hell & out of Ministry. Pastor JOE is doing a great job. Thank GOD for him.

  27. This article must be circulated to all Pastors, you will be amazed the impact it will have in so many ministries. The time where in is evil, rescue the Pastors now, young Pastors need all the help and resources to say holy.

  28. Thank you and God bless you for sharing this. I’ve been noticing a trend of pastors and “men of God” falling into sexual sin. In my research for pastor’s confessions and different articles, I found this blog article and have truly been blessed. Thank you for sharing your God-given wisdom. I pray that God continues to keep you and lead you according to His will and His alone.

  29. Dr. Joe, thank u for the courage. Many ministers will never talk about it. Why? They are neck deep into immorality. We need more of this. May God help us to tread on the path of caution (even if to a fault). Alot are living the rest of their lives in regrets for crossing these boundaries. God bless u.

  30. Presumably the pastor in your title is male, right? Very Godly advice not only to male pastors, but also to all church leaders and Christian men. Thank you for speaking truth and God bless!

  31. Protect from sexual sin, yes. But will generalised rules really have the power to stop lust? It seems like these would just hinder meaningful friendship between men and women from forming.

      • But why can’t you exercise self control? This is one of the fruits of the Holy Spirit. There is no need to make women feel like they are from a different species because you can’t stop yourself from doing something ‘truly stupid.’ Why can’t you exercise self control?

  32. I read the article and the comments. I found it interesting that the biggest naysayers to your sound advice were women who called themselves “pastors”.

    Perhaps if these women were to examine their “calling ” in light of Scripture and get that right, then they might be in a position to better understand the issues that you raised in your article.

  33. I understand many of these rules, and they make perfect sense. However, what do you do with the fatherless teenage girl who desperately needs a wholesome hug from a caring man?

  34. Pingback: The pastor and inappropriate interactions with women in the church

  35. God bless you immensely Pastor Joe!
    I am a female pastor, I can boldly tell you [as in confess], that this is vice versa!
    This has got to do likewise with female pastors, we are not exempt. Can’t begin to recount the temptations.
    Please ignore the ignorant talkg here, we the ministers of God hear you loud and clear.

    • Glenn, shall we get into making a long list of all the things God despises and the penalty for each? He surely does despise the sin you mentioned, but that’s only one in such a list. The Old Testament had the answer for this: “The soul that sinneth, it shall die.” Fortunately, that same OT tells us there is forgiveness. The same chapter (Exodus 20) where God gave the 10 Commandments–one of which is no adultery!–He gave plans for an altar. All those OT altars prefigure the cross. And aren’t we glad! Because otherwise, we would all be in big trouble since we have all sinned. The pastor who sleeps with another man’s wife and later marries her has plenty of company in the rest of us sinners. So, while that sin is despicable to the Savior, those two sinners may seek and receive forgiveness too. Thank God for that.

  36. Greatly appreciated this write up. I am a female working with a single pastor in his 40s. I notice he has a very close bond with a 19 year old female who he taught catechism to, had taken on teen excursions. On certain days I’ve walked into a shared office (glass windows) with just the two of them chatting. She is very flirtatious and wears tight clothes and he doesn’t seem to do much to dissuade her approaches but rather responds to them. He has a young, playful spirit and is playful with her… Perhaps like with a little sister. She seems quite attached to him and views me as a threat as I am a new female presence in his vicinity. I get the death glare from her. I have seen his phone and that she sends him cutsie, playful messages. His responses are brief but I have never witnessed or seen anything to verbally declare the nature of the relationship or tell her she is getting too attached to him. I approached him once about this concern and he said ,’shes just a kid.’. What do I do? What should he do? How should this girl really be treated by him? The pastor also shared that he isn’t accountable to anyone for how he does ministry. ….

    • I am concerned that he would say he is not accountable to anyone. How unscriptural is that! I suspect he is about to find out the sad truth of this. My suggestion would be that you share your concern with two responsible leaders of the church. Get them together and share this . Then it’s in their lap.

  37. I think a pastor must always speak as if Jesus is the one speaking. A lot of pastors are really not keeping that in mind nowadays. Only a few good pastors like Keion Henderson,, who is also a distinguished member of the Houston Area Pastors Council is the pastor that I truly believe who really does his job and calling pretty well. He speaks always with God’s tongue and always sticks to telling His message of love.

  38. I understand the reasoning behind this article, but I think it’s going overboard. Yes, most pastors are men, and yes, we all understand the male sex drive. But you’re not in a bar. Our pastor hugs men and women occasionally and it’s no big deal. It’s usually after a funeral or when a family moves away. Or Christmas and Easter. And he has men and women in his office occasionally. That’s no big deal either. You can practice respectful boundaries and still be reasonable. This advice makes sense if you’re attending an “unhealthy” church, but most Christians are wise enough to attend a healthy one.

  39. Kudos to real pastors like Keion Henderson who uphold purity and chaste unlike other pastors who disguise themselves as Men of God, who are esteemed members of the Houston area pastors council are really what we need right now to fight for our Faith! The world needs their voices to herald us back to the ways of our Lord!

  40. I agree with this 100%. I don’t care if someone gets offended by me not touching them. As a youth pastor I do not allow any students to touch me in any way whatsoever. Why? Because there’s a ton of crazy parents/people waiting to destroy a leader in the church. That leader will not be me on this topic for sure.

  41. EstaAnne and Lynne are lacking spiritual wisdom/Biblical understanding. “There is no male nor female in Christ” simply means as Christians we are spiritually equal and valuable in Christ, both with varying spiritual gifts and importance in the Body of Christ. just as a Christian Jew or Gentile is spiritually equal, neither one is greater in God’s eyes. This doesn’t mean there aren’t differences that people should not take into account.

    Jesus talking with the woman at the well had great spiritual impact on women especially (as well as men) during that time. The culture looked upon women as less than men, and speaking to a Samaritan woman was especially despised in that culture. Jesus transcended the norms so he could show how God valuew all man/womankind, and especially showed the much needed grace and love to women who not only often didn’t feel important, but for a woman who was considered the lowliest type. He not only gave this woman the amazing gift of being valued and forgiven, but he used her life as a great testimony as she went and told everyone she had met the Messiah and helped to spread the Gospel. This event happened in public, not in a private place with the two of them alone. There was no temptation on Jesus part since he was sinless. He broke the rules of the sinful Pharisees and men (as he often did), but he never broke God’s laws, or gave the impression of ungodliness at anytime . This situation is markedly different from an imperfect human being in a more personal situation with the opposite sex who has not only a wife to protect emotionally, but his congregation and on a much larger scale, the truth/dignity of the Gospel itself.

    As a single Christian woman, I might’ve agreed with EstaAnne years ago, but I see and understand much more now as I walk with Christ. I recently attended a church a friend had invited me to and was disappointed in the pastor’. He seemed romantically enamoured with my friend, and I saw this in both his eyes and actions. She’d recently lost her husband and he seemed to be doing free work on her property quite a bit, even though my friend could easily hire someone since she makes good money. He’d also go to her house for other miscellaneous things (although I don’t know if he went inside). During my first visit at the church, he came up to my friend and really wanted her to go to an upcoming Christian seminar several church members were going too. Besides the obvious infatuation I could see in his eyes for my friend, he never looked at me and said “and you’re welcome to invite your friend here,too”. Although I doubt she was romantically interested, I did get the sense she knew full well he was attracted to her and used this as a way to feed her ego. I don’t think it’s wrong for a pastor or male church member to help low income women in the church, but this was ongoing (mind you, this pastor was married with several children). After seeing this, I got to were I couldn’t look at him while he was preaching (it’s a small church ), without feeling disrespect for him, and in part, disgust
    Although, nothing of a sexual nature most likely did not take place, I just couldn’t feign respect or that II was enjoying the sermon, Even if he never commited adultery in his life,, I didn’t want to have my faith distracted away from God at church, and even though the members seemed nice and sincere I had to question the spiritual health of this church if they couldn’t discern what had only taken me just a month to discern, and I chose to stop going.

    I commend the stance/ wisdom from this Pastor which takes more thought and work compared to taking the easy route.
    .Pastors like him should be complimented, not condemned.

  42. I don’t agree with this at all. This sounds like a man that doesn’t trust himself, and due to his own distrust of himself (or women in church) he feels the need to warn others.

    So, men can be behind closed doors with a pastor, but women can’t, regardless of their marital status? Sounds sexist to me.


    Not hugging, maybe. But having a woman in your office with the door closed isn’t any different than a male boss with a female employee. If you don’t trust yourself behind closed doors, you don’t trust yourself. With all due respect, the problem is YOU.

    My guess is this pastor did something “truly stupid” and feels the need to warn others not to make the same mistake.

      • You are so so correct Joe. It has happened over and over. My married sister had an eight year ongoing “affair“ with a pastor of a church. It’s not just the pastor who must be cautious, there are some women who actively try to seduce whoever they believe to be the person in power. Whoever disagrees with you is either deluded by feminism or naïve.

  43. I don’t think Kevin M. is “naive.” He sounds like a man who knows how to control his libido. Some men can, and some men can’t. If you can’t control your libido, then by all means don’t counsel women with or without the door open.

    Pastors that get in trouble with women are in the wrong profession. They’re sinners and male whores.

  44. Thanks Joe!

    Your advice are highly valued. Male pastors are very weak and they sometimes use expensive perfumes to lure women to them. They use their charming instincts to tempt women. Women who are divorced and have been having emotional problems seek counseling. Some pastors offers them counseling voluntarily only to find that one day they find themselves under their pants. When doing that it becomes a habit and a habitual tendency by some of this pastors moving from one women to another. Such women they never heal from divorce trauma and instead they become worse. These pastors they find joy hopping from one women to another. Sleeping with five women in a week and it is normal.

    The suggestion that pastors should have mentors or someone in the name of a veteran during counseling is highly appreciated if not recommended. Pastors are human beings too. They need Godly spiritual guidance and they support to overcome all these challenges. It is really heartbreaking for wifes to suffer emotional trauma due to what is happening behind close doors. Nothing done in darkness shall remain in darkness for good. They do have their own ways to come out.

    When home, in Parliament they are always tired and cannot perform. Excuse always are mental tiredness after each and every counseling session. Claiming to have less interest in making love while outside he is a 🐅.

  45. One other thing that I have realized and observed are women who are divorced. They do everything to make male pastors look up to them. They don’t mind to fall in love with a pastor knowing very well that he is married or committed to someone. For them it is all about competition and who will win the pastor at the end of the day.

    Poor pastors should not be blamed alone. As women too we do have a role to play. They are also dragged into uldultery intentionally by heartless women. Many churches are dissolved due to this type of behaviour or conduct.

    Women who find themselves having capital use it against wife’s to pastors who are not working and vulnerable at the same time. Most churches suffer from this insomnia. Some women would pretend to take care of the pastor knowing exactly what the intentional move is.

    This is a very hard and difficult subject. I wish those with experience could share so that we improve how we handle things as pastors and congregants at the same time.

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