I’M A SINGLE PASTOR AND I CAN’T DO WITHOUT SEX
From: SOU PASTOR, SOLTEIRO, E NÃO CONSIGO FICAR SEM SEXO
Sent: segunda-feira, 24 de novembro de 2003 19:11
Subject: SEXO É MEU PROBLEMA (SEX IS MY PROBLEM)
Sent: segunda-feira, 24 de novembro de 2003 19:11
Subject: SEXO É MEU PROBLEMA (SEX IS MY PROBLEM)
A SKIRTCHASER’S STRUGGLE...
I was very pleased to meet you in person at the Café com Graça * meetings. I was amazed at your gentleness, simplicity and greatness of soul. Matter-of-factly, I’ve long been your admirer; I was even called a “caiolater”.
As you can tell from the “subject”, I’ve been a pastor in a denomination for eleven years, and all through this time I’ve always had trouble controlling my sexual impulses. Very often, this led me to look for prostitutes and have sex with all my girlfriends. Besides, I would masturbate in excess.
This is what happens: I’m certain of my calling and the ministry God gave me. The people I pastor hold me dear, and God uses me a lot in His power.
Now I’m in a church where I’ve already had sex affairs with two different people. In fact, in every church I worked with I had problems in this area.
Right now, though, I’m steadfast, with no sexual contact with anyone, nor masturbating either.
I’d like you to answer this question: Is it possible for me to keep pastoring this church?
Can it grow under my care?
I assure you I no longer have any sex affairs and I won’t do it again. I’m seeking help from the Holy Spirit; I’m determined not to sin in this area again. Thus far has the Lord helped me!
I’m engaged, but my fiancée knows nothing about this, and can’t even imagine so. The women I had affairs with are still in the church, but they are discreet and respect me. They haven’t said anything nor accused me so far, and I assume they won’t tell. And each doesn’t know about the other.
It’s been about three months since I broke this behavior. I’ve always wanted to talk to someone about it, and I’m sure of and thankful for your attention, as well as willing to take your considerations seriously.
Yours in Christ,
My beloved friend,
Peace to you, and self-control!
To a young adult like you Paul said that it is better to marry—but to marry for real—than to burn with passion.
From your ministry time, I assume you’re around 33 to 35 years old, at least.
This means you’ve been following this path for a good while…
You’ve been pastoring people for over eleven years now.
The situation you described has some variables to be considered.
YOUR “BURNING WITH PASSION”
As I said, Paul has something to tell you. What he said has been awfully misunderstood in general.
He said, “It is better to marry than to burn with passion”.
It sounds as if he were saying today, “It’s the lesser evil” or “Solve your sex need problem by contracting a wife”.
In fact, as among the Christians the matter is a taboo even though the “itch” is undeniable—and the guilt burden is imposed as extremely serious—, most of them marry the wrong person only to “resolve a problem”.
Such being the case, sex is seen as a problem. So, to solve the problem, they often get a bigger problem: A brotherly marriage to a beloved sister/brother in Christ. Their children are born and are considered “holy”. But in the meantime, very often the couple can’t understand why they are unable to derive real pleasure from their marriage although they are both Christians and love each other in brotherly love.
Then, the day he or she “tastes” a different fruit, they go crazy, because they find out that the “joy” is, in fact, much greater and incomparable.
What Paul means is simple: Human beings have a natural need of affection and sex itself, unless he or she has a call to celibacy.
And this wasn’t devised by the devil. The whole nature is like this. There comes a time when the male wants to procreate, possess, dominate; and the female wants to give birth.
Among the humans—who are animals too; denying it is foolishness—, things are much more complicated. Besides all the hormonal stimulation, there are emotional and affective needs, not to mention the powerful “propaganda”.
After a given age, unless a man has a sex disorder or the above-mentioned “vocation”, he will feel “hungry”.
What’s more, the need comes as something that needs to eat. It becomes an essential demand.
Therefore, Paul was simply being absolutely realistic. He couldn’t misrepresent the reality. He knew what the human nature was like. And he judged of it from his own nature, according to Romans 7.
On the one hand, a situation like this can become a disease owing to excess. On the other hand, if it isn’t manifested as only natural, it will become a disease too, only caused by means of suppression.
What I mean is that sexuality has to blossom, and the most natural way for adults is through having sex—not food, or drink, or vigil prayers, or preaching, nor for the love for one’s parents.
Therefore, looking at this reality, Paul says the following:
1. Such a reality is undeniable, and we can’t pretend it doesn’t exist.
2. Not dealing with reality as reality and avoiding its natural, built-in facts as they are will mislead the individual either to a harmful suppression to the soul—unless celibacy is his/her call—or will mislead him/her to lust through excess.
3. That’s why, to Paul, balance means a marriage where desire, affection, friendship and brotherliness have to get together in order to bring about a plentiful conjugality.
If all these dimensions aren’t present, full conjugality is impossible.
If the marriage is desire only, it will become a “bile-moon”—pure sickness. If it’s friendship only, it won’t bring the joys of desire. If it’s brotherhood only, it will form priestly solidarity bonds, but without any fantasy elements and the animality that is also linked to reality and the human condition.
In short, all these things must be present for a good relationship. And love binds them all together.
I won’t talk about the forms of marriage. I already did. You can read it on the “Letters” link, in a reply entitled “What Do You Think about Sex before Marriage?). Please read it so I won’t have to repeat it to everybody else.
A marriage, therefore, needs to have such contents. When it does, then what Paul said is made true forever: It is better to get married—to have such a quality bond—than to burn with passion.
“Burning with passion” isn’t something you should put up a fight against to see how far you can endure.
Nobody can win this fight. Even if you manage to avoid the act, you lose anyway.
You said, “I’ve always had trouble controlling my sex impulses. Very often, this led me to look for prostitutes and have sex with all my girlfriends. Besides, I would masturbate in excess. This is what happens: I’m certain of my calling and the ministry God gave me. The people I pastor hold me dear, and God uses me a lot in His power. Now I’m in a church where I’ve already had sex affairs with two different people. In fact, in every church I worked with I had problems in this area. Right now, though, I’m steadfast, with no sexual contact with anyone, nor masturbating either.”
You said this was happening up to three months ago. From then on you’ve been calming down… or fighting harder.
However, the history is a long one: All the churches… all the girlfriends… the prostitutes… the compulsive masturbation….
Well, beloved friend, you can’t deny that there is an uncontrolled pulsion in you. It’s more than just burning with passion. But I’m not saying you don’t have the power to control it.
What I mean is that whether or not you control it outwardly, the problem is inwardly—whether it shows tangibly or not.
You mentioned the two last women you had sex with, and they keep going to your church. From the profiles you described, and because you’re the pastor, I think they’re unlikely to remain silent unless they’re married. Two young women who were single would probably have made a big fuss by now. I noticed you worry that one doesn’t get to know about the other; after all, this could take away from both the respect from the “exclusiveness” of giving themselves over. You fear that if they stop feeling special, they may get angry and then start talking or dropping hints.
This is, no doubt, a big awful problem: To be pastoring a church of which you already got two young women into bed.
Now comes the biggest problem: You’re engaged and had been “getting all those girls laid” even while you were engaged—I assume you and your fiancée have had sex too—, but you told me nothing about her, not even once. Your fiancée sounded as a “spare”.
You didn’t say a single word to describe her, define her, say what she means to you and what you mean to her, etc.
My opinion about it all:
1. Your ministry can still have good prospects if you stop it NOW. Otherwise you will get hurt and will harm many of your sheep as well.
2. You’re only taking the risk of getting married to put a dressing on this bleeding. Make sure to know what your fiancée means to you. In fact, a man who is in love with his fiancée never “fools around”, especially his sheep. That’s why I think there’s something very wrong with your relationship too. For now, the problem is yours only. But if you get married, you’ll have a “partner for hell or high water”, including the calamity of betrayal. Therefore, check carefully if you’re getting married for the right reasons or if it’s just a scheme to decrease the risks of “slipping”.
3. As I see it, the masturbation is at the basis of it all, as we’re talking about an adult. You look at a church girl, feel awfully drawn, and then “give birth to the desire” through masturbation. At this point, you’ve already crossed a border line. The next time you meet the girl, you feel as if you already “know” her. Your energy is changed. You transmit a wave of seduction and desire toward her—all of it unconsciously. Then you get “open responses” from several women, because the sexual energy “transmission” remains there, on and in the air. That’s when “deep calls to deep”. Through the masturbation you go on crossing your mental borders, and once you get past them, going forth is only natural. And I assure you that the pastoral figure can be diffuse and confusing to many people, especially the figure of a single pastor. People really mix it up. And when the pastor is single and mixes things up too, everything gets much more complicated.
This is what I think:
If you believe it’s still possible for you to stay, in good earnest, with the church you are, here are my suggestions:
1. Meet with the two women (separately, of course) and ask them to forgive you for what happened. Don’t play the moralist and don’t evoke some “fresh revival or revelation” in order to “justify” your mindset change. Only confess your sin in a broken way. They are the sheep. You are the pastor. As such, it’s worse than a gynecologist who goes to bed with his clients. It’s worse than a therapist who seduces his clients. Only say, “I have sinned against the Lord and against you”. And finish it at that point, for good.
2. Be sure about the role your fiancée plays in your life. This is important, my friend, because if you don’t love her—and I don’t think you do—, the marriage would protect you in theory, but in fact it won’t, since you don’t love her. Therefore, your loveless marriage is likely to bring about a tragic situation. If you don’t love your fiancée, you’ll end up doing it again. Marrying her will only be worth if you love her. Her love for you won’t be enough. You have to love her a lot, and fervently.
3. If you live in Rio de Janeiro, come and see me. I assume you know how to find me. I believe we need to talk in person. But if you live far from here, I suggest that you see a therapist and open up your heart. Talk about your insecurities, your emotions and your impulses—all of them. You’ve got a lot of insecurity and little affectivity. You might have never known the meaning of really loving someone to this day. And this is a deep, serious psychological gap.
Over the past thirty years I’ve helped pastors who faced the same problem, and who were able to stay with their churches. In fact, some of them have been in their churches for twenty-five years now, and never did it again. But they had to submit their consciences to a change.
I hope you’ll get the point. Everything I said was for your own good.
A brotherly kiss and my affection go to you. I’ll be praying for you.
In Him, who is the Shepherd who lays down His life for the sheep,
From the original: “SOU PASTOR, SOLTEIRO, E NÃO CONSIGO FICAR SEM SEXO”
Translated by F. R. Castelo Branco | May 2007
* “Café com Graça” was an informal, independent Bible-centered project led by Rev. Caio Fabio in the city of Rio de Janeiro from 2001 to 2004. This, along with the creation of the website in 2003, eventually gave rise to a larger project, the “Caminho da Graça”, now based in Brasilia (the capital of Brazil), with an increasingly larger number of “Stations” (extensions or branches) blooming all over Brazil and abroad. (Translator’s note)