Then it happened one evening that David arose from his bed and walked on the roof of the king’s house. And from the roof he saw a woman bathing, and the woman was very beautiful to behold.
-2 Samuel 11:2, NKJV
When a minister abuses his or her position to have sex with a congregant, it is a special sort of evil, IMO.
This person often is viewed as standing for God in a symbolic way. So, they are not only defiling their marriage, they are also tarnishing God’s image to those who know of such behavior. Plus, they are tearing up their community as a faith community leader.
It is an abuse of trust. And it is professional misconduct. A minister sleeping with a congregant is using a sacred trust to abuse this congregant and sin against his/her own spouse as well.
Such behavior by a minister is not unlike King David’s behavior with Bathsheba:
It is important to remember that a difference in power existed between David and Bathsheba. Could Bathsheba actually have refused KING David?! I doubt it.
I suspect that is why Bathsheba is portrayed as the stolen beloved lamb in Prophet Nathan’s confrontation parable as opposed to an active agent in King David’s adultery (see 2 Samuel 12:1-7). Prophet Nathan does not excoriate Bathsheba for tempting King David; rather, he excoriates King David for abusing his power in taking another man’s wife.
Ministers who sleep with their congregants are like King David in how they are abusing their power to take what they want.
Remember the role and trust a minster has: Who is going to refuse “God?” That is the sort of power a minister can wield from his or her office by standing as such a symbol in the community.
Also, the minister could use the special access he gets into the congregant’s life to exploit him or her to his “benefit.” This is like a therapist exploiting vulnerabilities revealed in therapy to use her client for sex. It is wrong. And it is abuse.
So, I would encourage folks to keep these power dynamics in mind when you hear stories of pastors preying on congregants. And I believe it is worth being kind to the “prey” in these scenarios just as the Prophet Nathan was kind to Bathsheba in exposing King David’s sin.