The Magazine of The Evangelical Lutheran Church in America


Under wraps

Sexually addicted pastors need congregational support

A pastor teaches weekly confirmation, including study of the sixth commandment, "You shall not commit adultery," but his life is a series of furtive, exploitative affairs and shabby afternoon sexual encounters.

Another pastor preaches a sermon on sexual purity in a world of temptation. One parishioner, a frequent critic, thanks him. "We need more sermons like that," he tells the pastor while pumping his hand. After greeting the rest of the departing worshipers, the pastor slips into his study, locks the door, pulls the blinds, and, while removing his stole and alb, begins to surf the Internet, searching for pornography. He doesn't have to look far.

Both pastors are out of control, spiraling downward into the dark mire of sexual addiction. "A person really wants to stop, tries to stop, but is unable to do that," explains Patrick Carnes, a psychologist and noted expert on treating sexual addiction at the Meadows, a treatment facility in Wickenburg, Ariz.

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