Do not listen to an accusation against an elder unless it is confirmed by two or three witnesses. Those who sin should be reprimanded in front of the whole church; this will serve as a strong warning to others.
– I Timothy 5:19-20, NLT
Why do only adulterous spouses get the benefit of the doubt in most churches?
Not infrequently, I hear stories of men–usually–who were pastors or ministers until their wives cheated on them and refused to repent. They come to me usually telling me how they are either divorced or on their way to one.
Instead of supporting these men, I too often hear stories of elders and ministry boards kicking these faithful husbands to the curb. They may even invite the still-cheating wives or ex-wives to give “their side” of the story thereby violating Biblical principles given in I Timothy 5:19.*
While blatantly disregarding I Timothy 5:19 in practice, they also fail to put into action the next verse. They do not confront the adulteress. And this happens even when they have indisputable evidence that the pastor’s wife is/was committing adultery. Plus, these elder and ministry boards dare to call themselves govern by the Bible.
What a joke.
And a nasty one at that!
I went through some of this myself in my former denomination. When I had to defend my character and ministry, I even provided proof from my ex-wife’s own “pen” where she admitted that she was sexually unfaithful plus lied about that fact for months!
How did my former denomination respond to this? They invited her to testify against me in the trial for my own credentials. In other words, they considered accusations against a brother elder from one witness alone. And that witness being an admitted liar on material facts regarding the marriage.
The benefit of the doubt was granted to my self-admitted, cheating ex-wife.
I am very glad my former denomination has totally overhauled this awfully unbiblical and unjust process subsequently. Too bad, they did not do it sooner.
It is frustrating to see how Christians are quick to defend an adulterous spouse even when the facts are in plain sight. “There’s two sides to every story.” What could the faithful spouse possibly have done to justify the cheater’s adultery? Insisting on hearing the other side of the story suggests these elders believe something could justify such adulterous behavior.
Plus, these leaders will jump all over a faithful spouse for being “unforgiving” or “angry” misdiagnosing grief through their quick jump to condemnation, but they won’t lift a finger to confront the treacherous spouse who soul raped the one before them. They judge the faithful spouse’s “progress” in “healing” but apparently see no need to insist on seeing progress in repentance from the adulterous party.
It is SO backwards and unbiblical!
It is like a judge throwing the book at a jaywalker who was raped while the rapist is free to continue his rampage. This is not care. And it certainly is not justice or “fairness.”
I am sick and tired of such destructive pastoral blindness in our Christian leaders! Hopefully, they wake up before too many more faithful spouses find themselves unbiblically slandered and their careers destroyed–or minimally, delayed.
*On the flip-side are pastor wives who have clear evidence of infidelity–possibly even having their pastor husband flaunting their mistress publicly–and these leaders will not hold their “buddy” to account for his wicked treatment of his wife. The only commonality I see across these situations is how the faithful spouse gets treated unjustly and unbiblically. Adultery is not treated seriously.