This week while I was preparing for a sermon on Malachi, I found out that the man who had been my first youth pastor at my home church has been carrying on an affair with a woman since 1981. The relationship began when his first marriage ended, but has continued into his second marriage. The woman with whom he had been having the relationship, for whatever reason, decided to go public with this relationship, and apparently, the man called her and begged for her not to ruin his ministry or his family. She told him he had done that himself, and she went on with her intentions.
I have commented before that in that church, the extra-marital relationships of the staff were practically a competitive sport, and the list of those who did not have such relationships is far shorter than the list of those who did. If they were found out, it was either covered up or they were allowed to resign and the congregation was told that they were “called to other areas of ministry.” The senior pastor and an ongoing, long-term relationship with his executive assistant. He was confronted with it many times, and those who questioned him were told that they were no longer welcome at the church. We were all supposed to turn a blind eye, but when he retired and moved to Texas, she divorced her husband and also moved to Texas. How stupid are we supposed to be?
I think it’s interesting that I learned this during the week that I was living with Malachi. Malachi puts a heavy burden on the priests to have a relationship with God so that they may effectively represent God to the people, bring them a correct understanding of God’s ethical standards, and offer spotless sacrifices to God, which is what God deserves.
These ministers brought corruption to their offices and corruption to the people because they were offering only the appearance of a genuine sacrifice, but they weren’t actually giving up anything at all. In fact, they were taking way more than they were giving. I am not trying to condemn them as worse than me or anyone else. I have certainly not conducted myself perfectly and have caused damage to people myself. I am merely pointing out that they chose a position of spiritual authority and they abused it and did great damage. They are all suffering serious consequences and the ripple effect of their actions will probably never be fully known. You would think that their stories would serve as a cautionary tale, but it keeps happening. Amazing.