Possible Adultery - Need Advice

Discussion in 'Pastoral Ministries' started by AllYeLands, Jul 29, 2005.

  1. AllYeLands

    AllYeLands
    Expand Collapse
    New Member

    Joined:
    Jul 29, 2005
    Messages:
    3
    Likes Received:
    0
    I pastor a church of about 400 people. We have a potential situation brewing and I need a multitude of counselors. There is a married lady who is involved with another married man. Both families are active members in our church. And both parties have been confronted by their spouses in the past (this has been alleged for 2 years).

    Recently the husband found his wife and the other married man alone in a vehicle in a secluded area. Their excuse was that they were just talking.

    There is no doubt in my mind there is an emotional affair going on...the evidence supports that. I am 99% sure that there has been a sexual affair as well, but there is no evidence to support that suspicion.

    The husband has come to me and I am counseling him and trying to work with him.

    My question is how do we handle this matter in relation to Matthew 18?

    This has become a public matter and is really a dark cloud that looms over our church. I feel that after two years we need to confront this issue, especially after she was found with the other man. But how do I do it Scripturally and tactifully? Any ideas??? Has anyone been in a similar situaiton as a pastor.
     
  2. Pastor Larry

    Pastor Larry
    Expand Collapse
    <b>Moderator</b>
    Moderator

    Joined:
    May 4, 2001
    Messages:
    21,763
    Likes Received:
    0
    Follow Matthew 18 with both of them.

    1. Someone with knowledge should go alone.
    2. He/she should take two or three that have knowledge of the offense with him/her to confront them.
    3. The church body should give confront them by a corporate letter of confrontation and urge them to repentance.
    4. They should be disciplined from the church.

    If it is public knowledge, then confession and repentance needs to be public.

    Always be loving and gracious. Do not let it stoop to personalities and blame about their spouse. That is irrelevant to this matter. Ask a lot of questions; they work better than accusations.
     
  3. TomVols

    TomVols
    Expand Collapse
    Administrator
    Administrator

    Joined:
    Oct 30, 2000
    Messages:
    11,170
    Likes Received:
    0
    I've been in the situation. Unfortunately, all I had to go on was rumor and innuendo. I never saw anything untoward. Not once. I made the call that, unless I saw the proof or had it from a reputable source, I would take no action based on gossip.

    I'm curious as to how you got to be 99% sure there's an affair with no evidence [​IMG]

    Emotional affairs are very real. Sins of lust and failure to follow Scriptural teachings regarding marriage are likely the culprit. Great care should be taken to respond in a way deserving of the situation, being careful not to jump to hasty conclusions, nor tolerate behavior which compromises the integrity of the body.
     
  4. TexasSky

    TexasSky
    Expand Collapse
    Guest

    I think Pastor Larry is right.

    You cannot just ignore it. There was a wonderful, growing church in our city that made that mistake and it almost destroyed the church. (A Sunday School teacher ended up having an affair with a member of his class. The rest of the class became convinced of it, tried to get the pastor to act. The pastor took the "don't gossip" stance. The man left his wife, married the girl in his class, then abandoned her while she was pregnant.) The church was just ruined. Some people didn't trust it to follow God's word, others still viewed it as "too judgmental". They all turned on the pastor.

    Had it been handle biblically, like Pastor Larry suggests, the weight of the burden would have been on the church, not that one man.
     
  5. AllYeLands

    AllYeLands
    Expand Collapse
    New Member

    Joined:
    Jul 29, 2005
    Messages:
    3
    Likes Received:
    0
    Both the husband of the straying wife and the wife of the straying husband found credit card receipts of when they apparently had an out of town rendevous five states away. One paid for the hotel and the other paid for some gas in the same town on the same day. And there are cell phone records of calls between the two until the day of the time they were in the same town. Then they stopped calling one another and then two days later they starting calling again.

    Now I was not in the hotel room, but I can only assume they were not having a prayer meeting.

    The husband of the straying wife and they wife of the straying husband both confronted them and they denied everything. But the circumstancial evidence is piling up. That's why I'm 99.9% sure.

    The only way you be 100% sure is to catch them in the act, and I perfer not to do that.

    I plan to act in accordance to Matthew 18. I know what the Scripture says and have studied it until I can quote it in the Greek. What I need is practical advice in how to approach it? I have never dealt with a church discipline matter like this. I need some seasoned pastors to give advice in how to firmly and fairly act on Matthew 18 to prevent going to the final step of church discipline.

    By the husband of the straying wife finding the two together alone in a parked car in a secluded area is enough justification in my mind to approach them. While there may have not been "anything" going on, we are commanded in Scripture to "abstain from the appearance of evil."

    The husband of the straying wife showed up on my doorstep asking for help the night he found them. So that is step one of Matthew 18. I went and met with her in his presence that evening, to no avail. There was too much emotion on both the husband and wife's part to do any good then. I plan to meet with her again. The straying husband has since left the church and left his wife.

    Thanks for any advice you can give. Again I know what Matthew 18 says...please give me practical advice in how pursue it.
     
  6. dianetavegia

    dianetavegia
    Expand Collapse
    Guest

    Of course, I'm not a pastor but I'd like to pray for these families. How many children are involved?

    Diane
     
  7. TomVols

    TomVols
    Expand Collapse
    Administrator
    Administrator

    Joined:
    Oct 30, 2000
    Messages:
    11,170
    Likes Received:
    0
    Let me preface all this by saying I'm leaving in the morning for a nice little vacation at the beach, so it will be probably late Friday or Saturday before I log back on.

    Now, on to the issue. At the risk of being attacked for saying this, you have little grounds for church discipline going alone. I know that there certainly appears that something untoward is going on. But I don't know about "being near the apperance of evil" being sufficient grounds for church discipline. However, you do in fact have grounds to discipline the man who has left his wife, providing he has done so without Scriptural grounds (and providing your church constitution and by-laws allows you to continue the practice of discipline for someone who may be in the process of leaving the church. Trust me-this is a huge loop hole that people will use).

    If you proceed with church discipline on the basis of alleged adultery, it should be pursued only with the full force and support of the spouse(s), who should be prepared to present their evidence to the church and to virtually ask the church to adjudicate the matter and rule on whether or not the affair is taking place and/or if there are sufficient behavioral grounds existing for discipline from the body. Are the spouses willing to be the witnesses to such? If not, you have nothing to go on unless there are others who have substantial evidence as well.

    Another practical concern is this: be very careful what you say and to whom you say it. Penitent prvilige varies a bit from state to state. Also, you could very well find yourself and your church under attack (read: lawsuit) if the husband or wife believes they have been wrongly accused and they have suffered "harm". I'm not saying it should happen or will happen; I'm saying it could happen. I'm not saying discipline should be jettisoned because we're afraid of trial lawyers, either. We just have to be as shrewd, wise and caring.

    A little pastoral care here may go further than any discipline will. If the alleged offended spouses are pushing forward on the basis that an affair has happened, then perhaps both marriages may be restored and repentance take place before we ever get to the church-wide step. Perhaps both offended spouses will be heard, and their concerns taken to heart, resulting in something we'd all praise the Lord for. Let's pray that this happens.

    Again, I'm sorry I will be away. I'd love to walk with you through this (assuming you don't think I'm a flaming liberal by my post) :D
    Above all, I'm praying for you. Church disciplinary matters are taxing on the shepherd's heart and soul. Grace and peace to you.
     
  8. Pastor Larry

    Pastor Larry
    Expand Collapse
    <b>Moderator</b>
    Moderator

    Joined:
    May 4, 2001
    Messages:
    21,763
    Likes Received:
    0
    I think we ought to discipline pastors who go to the beach for vacation. On second thought, I think we should discipline pastors who go on vacation period ... What a total lack of commitment ... [​IMG] ...

    Seriously, while Tom and I are usually on the same side, and perhaps we are more on teh same side than not on this one, I think you do have grounds for discipline. If what you say about being away, the receipts, and the phone calls are true, then someone has done their homework and to me that seems pretty solid.

    Personally, I would start with the man. To me, the man is the leader. Have lunch, tell him you love him, and you are concerned because this situation has come up. Ask lots of questions, rather than make accusations. Say things like "It appears" and "This doesn't look right." Say "I am concerned" and "There seems to be ..." I would get your wife involved with the woman, on the same basis. Lots of suggestion and questioning, rather than accusation. If your wife is not up to it, or not comfortable, at least take her with you and talk to the husband and wife together. The reason I say together is that the wife is under the headship of the husband.

    If both "innocent" spouses are still living in the relationship, there may be hope to save it. Something has caused them not to leave yet. Are they still sleeping the same bed or just tolerating each other in the same house?

    I would immediately remove them from whatever service or leadership positions they may have, and explain that until this is clear up, their testimony is harmed.

    And check your constitution to make sure you follow it. I don't think "leaving a church" prevents discipline. They are still members of that church until they join another or are removed for discipline or delinquency.

    Also check out www.ninemarks.org. This is Mark Dever's website and I think it has a lot of info about church discipline, or at least some.

    Proceed with caution but with love and directness.
     
  9. Link

    Link
    Expand Collapse
    New Member

    Joined:
    May 30, 2004
    Messages:
    695
    Likes Received:
    0
    Spiritually, by-laws seem to me to be about as authoratative as Roman Catholic tradition in this case. We should stick with scripture on the issue. By-laws may help if there is lawsuit.

    Just keep praying that if the parties are guilty, they will confess. Either way, pray that the truth will come to light.

    There need to be two or three witnesses. I suppose you could 'take the case to court' before the church with all the cirumstantial evidence, but it would not seem right to kick them out if there was no proof of actual sexual misconduct. You could have the church urge them not to put themselves in inappropropriate situations like being in the car together, and to not hang around each other except in group contexts. Something like that would be terrifying enough to a lot of people to let them seriously consider repentance.

    Of course, the sad thing is that someone like this can just hop over to another church in town that ignores passages on church discipline, where they think people who need church discipline should be in church fellowshipping with everyon else, if he does not want to be disciplined.
     
  10. Brother Ian

    Brother Ian
    Expand Collapse
    New Member

    Joined:
    Jul 27, 2005
    Messages:
    1,065
    Likes Received:
    0
    Certainly the Scriptures must be followed. There seems to be the absence of the thought of restoring the individuals involved. The ultimate goal is reconciliation between the individuals and their spouses. Of course, the individuals must adhere to the 1 John 1:9 principle. Unfortunately, it seems those involved in this case are denying any wrong doing. It is most inappropriate for a anyone to be in a car with a person of the opposite , especially in a secluded area. That shows a clear lack of judgement.

    As previously said by Pastor Larry, all the facts must be brought out. It will be difficult if the parties deny their actions. The situation must be handled in love. I have been involved in confrontation and reconciliation and it is never pleasant, but it must be done with the goal of gaining a brother. Remember the principle Paul spoke of in Galatians 6:1.

    This is definitely a situation that church leadership, whether staff or lay leadership, must be involved in. If they continue to deny any wrong doing, you will be forced to exercise the full extent of Matthew 18. It may result in the couple being asked to leave the church. That is the last resort, but you cannot allow sin to reign in the body. People will recognize the inconsistency, something I believe Jesus has little patience for.

    Be loving, but firm. Pray, pray, pray. Remember the purpose of your involvement. It is not as a busybody, but as someone who truly cares and wants members of his congregation to live a life that is pleasing to the Lord.
     
  11. odd4god

    odd4god
    Expand Collapse
    New Member

    Joined:
    Apr 6, 2005
    Messages:
    8
    Likes Received:
    0
    We had the same situation in our church eight summers ago. A trustee and another trustee's wife were involved. They, too, were seen by another member of our church in a compromising position. When confronted, they denied everything, left the church, divorced their spouses and married each other. Their denial kind of lost credibility. They have since divorced. We are a small church - at that time running around 100. Because of family relationships in the church, we lost about 20-25 people. Interesting enough, the trustee whose wife had the affair has stayed with us and is one of our most faithful members. I think that no matter how you handle a situation like this - you better watch out for the results - people do not like their sin confronted - even in Christian love.
     
  12. Mission Man

    Mission Man
    Expand Collapse
    New Member

    Joined:
    Nov 21, 2003
    Messages:
    125
    Likes Received:
    0
    Pastor Larry is the correct one here. My pastor actually just preached on this about 3 months ago. I totally agree with Larry.
     
  13. Lydia's Legacy Ministries

    Lydia's Legacy Ministries
    Expand Collapse
    New Member

    Joined:
    May 16, 2005
    Messages:
    7
    Likes Received:
    0
    I agree with Larry. Something similar happened @ a church I was attending. Eventually, the pastor in question had to publicly (to all 1000 of us during Sunday Service) state what was happening and why he was stepping down. It was devasting to so many people because he was loved. I didn't know him (that church has several pastors), but knew in my spirit that something was up with him every time I saw him. My husband and I just kept praying for him. Unfortunately, he didn't head the love of God to repent and ended up leaving the church.

    One thing about God: He will always give you ample opportunity to repent privately; when you don't, He'll give you an opportunity to repent and make it right between a few people; but when our hearts continue to be hardened, He will bring it out in the open for all to see.

    I'm not sure if this has come to a conclusion, since this was started in July, but we should continue to pray for both marriages. Alot of healing will need to be done. The wounds we cannot see often take more time than those we can.

    In His Grip,

    Raquel
     
  14. Johnv

    Johnv
    Expand Collapse
    New Member

    Joined:
    Oct 24, 2001
    Messages:
    21,321
    Likes Received:
    0

    That is why we're told to not just avoid evil, but avoid the appearance of evil. It might not be wrong for me to be in a parked car with a female, but I would generally refrain from that situation out of respect for my wife.

    IMO, an emotional affair qualifies as an affair. Tab "A" does not have to be inserted into Slot "B" in order for the carton to be a carton. Additionally, Jesus made it clear that adultery in one's heart doesn't even involve outward actions.

    I would stick to what you DO know, which is the above.

    You can do nothing with anyone else, unless they come to you. IMO, while there may be rumors and gossip amongst the pews about it, the fact remains that it is still a private matter between the persons involved, and your ability is limited to providing counsel to those who seek it.
     

Share This Page

Loading...