For 30 plus years I have been burdened for the personal integrity of those in the ministry. The reasons are simple. Integrity is a biblical requirement (1 Tim 3:1). And, the respect for those in ministry is at a low ebb, especially in our nation. Of course one major area of importance is how ministers conduct themselves with the opposite sex. I have always challenged fellow pastors to make a rock solid, non-negotiable commitment: “I will never be alone with a woman who is not my wife.” This commitment and conviction has not always been applauded. I have been accused of being a Pharisee, legalist, sexist and Neanderthal. I was once accused of having “psycho-sexual hang-ups in need of therapy!” But praise God and by His grace, I have never been accused of adultery because in almost 30 years of marriage, I have never been alone with a woman other than Charlotte. I have no plans to change this.
Sexual temptation is a powerful reality, and a wise person will never forget that no matter how much you love Jesus, “the wrong person plus the wrong place plus the wrong time will equal the wrong thing happening.” Look no further than to the tragic story of King David, a man the Bible says was after God’s own heart.
Sexual immorality exacts a heavy price tag. It will cause you to dishonor Christ, wound the church, break the heart of your mate and lose forever the respect of your children. That is a price only a fool would pay.
This issue was brought to my mind again in a recent blog by my friend Ed Stetzer. By the way, I am excited to tell you that Dr. Stetzer is going to join the Southeastern faculty as a visiting research professor. Personally I am thrilled we will get to share him with our friends at LifeWay. In Ed’s blog he referenced the “The Commandments for Saddleback Staff” by Rick Warren. Here is Rick’s list.
- Thou shalt not go to lunch alone with the opposite sex.*
- Thou shalt not have the opposite sex pick you up or drive you places when it is just the two of you.*
- Thou shalt not kiss any attender of the opposite sex or show affection that could be questioned.*
- Thou shalt not visit the opposite sex alone at home.*
- Thou shalt not counsel the opposite sex alone at the office, and thou shalt not counsel the opposite sex more than once without that person’s mate. Refer them.
- Thou shalt not discuss detailed sexual problems with the opposite sex in counseling. Refer them.
- Thou shalt not discuss your marriage problems with an attender of the opposite sex.
- Thou shalt be careful in answering emails, instant messages, chatrooms, cards or letters from the opposite sex.
- Thou shalt make your co-worker your protective ally.
- Thou shalt pray for the integrity of other staff members.
[*The first four do not apply to unmarried staff.]
These are wise words for any minister of any sex or age. These are principles that will help us in finishing the race well for King Jesus. Integrity as it relates to your sex life is not optional for the minister of the gospel. It is essential. Take the high road in this area. Be cautious and be careful. Stay close to Jesus and stay close to your mate. End your race with no regrets. It will glorify God, and you will be glad you did.