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Ask the Pastor

† Theological musings and answers to selected questions by a confessional Lutheran pastor.

16 August 2006

Pastoral Counseling or Sexual Abuse?

Q: I am not sure what denomination that you are or if your religion believes in spirits and deliverance, etc., but I have a crucial problem and I really would like some guidance. I suffer (I think) with sexual lust and my pastor says that the best way to get delivered from it is to allow the lust to fully manifest itself and then it will be easier for him to cast out. I had two deliverance sessions with him and apparently “fully manifest” means to let my lust run free and do to him anything that I want — he does not touch me in any way at all but he does allow me to touch him as freely as I want, even to taking off his clothes etc., but no sexual intercourse.

Because I suffer from low self esteem, I am glad that I can have my way with a man as I have abstained for the last 4 years, since I became a Christian. This was my first time touching a man since accepting Christ. When I try to reason it out, I still feel as though there is something wrong with this but I do want to be healed. He hardly talks to me outside of his office but spends a lot of time kind of flirting with all the girls in the church (our church is mostly young people; I am one of the oldest).

He showed me in Scripture where a man brought his demon possessed child to Jesus and Jesus let the demon manifest itself to the fullest and then He called it out, so that is the Biblical example to follow. I cant stop thinking about these encounters even though there have been many rumors about him taking advantage of girls that come to him for counseling but he is open about these and says in his younger days he suffered from lust and did these things but he got deliverance as I am getting now so now he is delivered from those days. At first his wife seemed to act suspicious of all the girls in the church and I wonder if there is a reason.

Would God forgive me if all of this is acceptable deliverance and I have been doubting my pastor’s integrity wrongfully? Please give me your opinion and also let me know if your denomination believes in deliverance because if you don’t then you would not agree with this approach to deliverance and that is where my question lies.

A: God certainly forgives the sins of those who believe in His Son. I see in you a person who truly wants to be delivered of the burden of overwhelming, unhealthy sexual desire. However, your “doubting” your “pastor’s integrity” isn’t a sin. He has no integrity! Instead, in this “pastor,” I see a predator exploiting the weakness of a suffering woman. He is not leading you to deliverance but to greater bondage, for surrendering to lust strengthens its hold on you.

Your words show how this is already happening as you say, “I am glad that I can have my way with a man.” Having your way in this instance means that God is not having His way. Listening to this false teacher endangers your well-being now and eternally! He has already twisted Scripture (the Bible passage he cited as “proof”) to manipulate you; he will continue by twisting you into a cowering parody of a redeemed Child of God.

James wrote, “Each person is tempted when he is lured and enticed by his own desire. Then desire when it has conceived gives birth to sin, and sin when it is fully grown brings forth death. (1:14-15)” Your desire (for a meaningful physical relationship) has already birthed at least one sin (erotic contact with a man who is married to someone else). Flee him. Repent the sin and report the abuser to church and civil authorities, for he is breaking the laws of both God and man.

Self-esteem is dangerous when allowed free course — it often excuses and encourages sinful pride. Yet God still wants us to have proper confidence that He provides the tools and talents we need to survive and thrive while living on earth. Therefore, Christians don’t look to self to find worth but rather rejoice that our value comes from Christ’s forgiveness and the indwelling of the Holy Spirit. If you continue to receive “counseling” from this man, he will shred whatever self-respect you have remaining. Truly, if you want to act as a person of worth and value, resisting his manipulation and reporting his misbehavior will be infinitely more valuable than allowing him to continue preying on your fears. Fear not, God will provide you the strength.

Quite possibly, you may need psychological counseling along with spiritual healing. The one to whom you’ve been turning will give you neither. You need a pastor who will proclaim and pour out God’s forgiveness, that you might be led to sincerely “submit ... to God” and “resist the devil” so that “he will flee from you. (James 4:7)” Coupled with this, you many also benefit from the ministrations of a caring psychologist or other mental health counselor. However, secular psychology has its own pitfalls, so I recommend you first establish a trusting relationship with a true minister of the Gospel.

As I said before, you’ve already been sinning by acting on your lust. There is no excuse for such behavior — and within your heart, you realize this. However, God richly and completely forgives you, as He did King David, who allowed lust to lead him to illicit sex with Bathsheba and the murder of her husband (see 2 Samuel 11:1-12:23). David recognized his sins and repented of them. He confessed to God through the prophet, “‘I have sinned against the Lord.’ And Nathan said to David, ‘The Lord also has put away your sin; you shall not die.’ (12:13)”

If you need help in finding a pastor who will hear your confession and speak God’s forgiveness as Nathan did to David, please write me back. He can also help you to “resist the devil,” to stand up to this false pastor, and to find any other counselors you might need. Do not delay and do not turn back — the differences between staying where you are or fleeing are the differences between hopelessness and healing, between sin and salvation, even between life and death. Do it for yourself, for the girls and women in this evil man’s church, and as a thank-offering to your Lord Jesus, who deeply loves and completely forgives you.

Scripture quoted from The Holy Bible, English Standard Version™, © 2001 by Crossway Bibles.

Send email to Ask the Pastor.

Walter Snyder is the pastor of Holy Cross Lutheran Church, Emma, Missouri and coauthor of the book What Do Lutherans Believe.

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Anonymous Anonymous said...

I know someone in a similar situation to this. You said to "report the abuser to church and civil authorities". What civil authority deals with this?

29 August, 2008 11:19  
Anonymous Annette said...

The description of events in these so called deliverance session is highly disturbing and outright abusive.

If anyone finds themselves a victim of this type of situation, there is an organization that can help you to regain hope and to heal. We provide Biblical counseling, and support, among other things. Please contact www.thehopeofsurvivors.com if you have such a need.

And thank you to "Ask a Pastor" for providing such a solid and clear answer.

23 January, 2011 00:49  

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