This action might not be possible to undo. Are you sure you want to continue?
I have read the letter that you posted recently on Facebook, and have decided I must write to you. Perhaps you find it confusing and discouraging that while you have done your best to show repentance and to follow biblical process regarding your fall, you are met with such resistance from former fellow-soldiers in the Lord’s work. None of us have written comments of encouragement or delight in your plans to relaunch yourself in ministry, and no one is “liking” your letter. You may feel that we are being unreasonable and even graceless in our approach. I know that the silence is hurtful, but it is all that many of us feel we can offer. However, as you declare repeatedly that you want so much to follow the will of God, I am writing to you to attempt to help you understand the resistance and hesitance I and many others feel.
You have written, “Hypocrisy is an unpardonable sin.” I have been silent all of these months, but in light of your words, and in light of the fact that you seem determined to launch yourself into ministry again, I cannot hold my peace any longer. Know that I write to you, not for the purpose of wounding, but of healing. I pray for you and your family every day, and I do not take lightly the responsibility of lifting you and your future up before the Lord. But I have come to the conclusion that I cannot just pray for you. I must share with you what is upon my heart. As Jesus spoke to the Pharisees, there were tears in His voice. But He continued to rebuke them, only becoming more direct as time went on in His ministry. This was not because He was becoming angry with them, but because He knew they were advancing in their sin against the Holy Spirit—pushing away the voice of conviction—and He must do something desperate to get their attention. Those who will not be molded must be broken. I pray this is not the case in your situation. So I write to you as a friend, with earnest intention to reach your heart. I hope that you will prayerfully consider my words.
You may know that I did two seminar presentations on sexual addiction at GYC this year, as well as one on healing from sexual abuse. As this is an area in which I deal with many people on an ongoing basis, I have felt more and more compelled to put together a presentation to reach those who I cannot speak with personally. I spoke directly to the issues involving your situation, though I did not use your name. I felt that by your persistent determination to exalt yourself to the position of spiritual advisor to others, when you have completely disqualified yourself for it, you had forced me to do so.
The heart of my presentation on sexual addiction was the allegory of the plant. I used two plants in particular, the dandelion and the bamboo, to illustrate sexual addiction. In my seminar I explained that the power of these plants lies in their root system, and that by the time a sexual addiction is manifested by outward behaviors, it is already deeply rooted in other sins of the soul. This is a fact, and one that you must realize yourself, as you examine your own life. I don’t have to hear a story to know that there was a long process that led to your fall. You have attempted to paint yourself as a mighty spiritual warrior who made a mistake because he was in a “far country” and who did not have enough safeguards in place. This is a boldfaced lie. You and I both know that this is not the first time you have done such a thing. It is only the first time you have been caught, and if you had not been confronted with the undeniable truth about what you had done, you would not have voluntarily come forward. Yet you have artfully worded your confessions to make it appear that you did so voluntarily. When you realized that the facts were coming to light, that this had happened in January and you had not confessed for many months, you adjusted your confessions. I watched the progression of your testimony over the months, and you have evidenced clearly what spirit is behind your efforts. You cannot let go of the spotlight, of your identity as a spiritual advisor and one who can be trusted and admired. So you pretend that there was not deep spiritual decay in your heart leading up to this event. But as a counselor and a Christian, I know what happens first. The hollow, rotten center of the mighty oak is only revealed when it falls, but the decay has been going on for years before the fall. So it is in the area of sexual sin especially. When a man knows just what tremendous issues are at stake and goes forward with his lustful actions anyway, one can know that this was not the beginning. For you to do such a high-risk act, there have been many comparatively low-risk acts already done. Whether that was pornography or a prostitute in Amsterdam, I don’t know. But you know. And you have determinedly pressed forward with your pretense of holiness, giving your followers the illusion that you are still worthy of trust. Nothing could be farther from the truth.
As you probably know, for many months I have been in touch with the young lady with whom you were sinfully involved. Since I do not know if this email will be seen by someone other than yourself, I am going to refer to her as N.M. I have developed a friendship with her, and am deeply moved by her anguish as she has dealt with the consequences of your actions. This is part of the reason I feel so strongly that I must write to you. You seem determined to promote yourself as one “qualified for ministry” by your fall, and I feel very strongly that under the circumstances, nothing can be farther from the truth. If falling into sin is a prerequisite for being able to minister to sinners, Jesus Himself was not qualified.
I know that you have sought to find forgiveness, and perhaps you feel that you have obtained the forgiveness and healing needed from God. One might feel, “What more can I do?” Confession, repentance and bitter time of reflection have all been a part of the last few months for you. Now you may not be able to understand why your fellow leaders and partners in ministry feel that this is not enough. I can understand why you might think that you are now qualified to minister again.
However, there is a sin for which there is no forgiveness. It is not adultery, of course, but as stated in Matthew 12:31, “the blasphemy against the Spirit will not be forgiven men.” I know that I am not explaining something to you that you do not know, so please bear with me and listen to what I am saying about this sin.
The sin against the Holy Spirit is the sin which Satan himself commits. It is the sin the Pharisees committed. What do they have in common? Simply put, they were skilled at denial—lying to themselves. Even now, though Satan knows that Jesus is coming to defeat him, and that he can do nothing to stop God from winning, he lives in continual defiance, determined to win the great controversy though he knows he cannot. Though he stood in the presence of the Father, and knew His character of love as perhaps no other angel did, Ellen White says Satan hates the concept of selfsacrificing love. “Its very existence he denies.” Though he knows that God is love, he is spending every moment of his life attempting to disprove it. In a word, he is lying to himself. This is why he is known as “the father of lies.” This is one manifestation of the sin against the Holy Spirit—choosing what we want to believe, and convincing ourselves of it.
When you first submitted your written resignation, accompanied by your explanation of events, I read it and immediately said to Alan, “He’s not telling the truth.” As a Biblical counselor, I deal with many people who struggle with addictions, especially sexual ones. I am well aware of the process that leads to an event such as yours. Perhaps a person who is ignorant of this process would believe the explanation, “I took precautions, but I did not take enough,” and “it was the sin of a moment.” However, you and I both know better. There was a long process that led to such an event. No one ends up in bed with a person who is not their spouse on an impulse. This is true a hundred times over in this particular situation.
If you were on the tenth floor of a building and you climbed into the elevator and pressed the right button, you could be transported in a matter of seconds to the bottom floor. However, this is not how adultery happens. The process leading to adultery is not an instantaneous event, but a step-by-step descent, a persistent
pushing away of the voice of the Holy Spirit. This is why adultery is sufficient to break even the sacred marriage vow.
Before one engages in such a high-risk sin (risking your own life, your wife’s life, your ministry, reputation, and family), there are a thousand second looks at low necklines or high hemlines, or fantasies, or episodes of viewing pornography, or trips to the hotel desk to pay cash to watch a movie that you do not want to be recorded on your bill. No earnest Christian young man ends up in the back seat of a car with his girlfriend without first pushing away the voice of conscience, rationalizing many times, “It’s okay to go sit in a deserted parking lot alone in the dark, because we would never…”
You and I both know this—there is a process that leads to an adulterous event. When a mighty-looking tree falls in a storm, we are shocked to see the hollow rottenness that has consumed the inside of the tree. It looked fine until it fell. But there was a long process that led to that fall. Adulterous behavior, the fall of the tree, is the RESULT, not the impulsive event, of a long process of spiritual decay. And anyone experienced in marriage and ministry should be well aware of this lengthy process of spiritual rotting.
In your confession and resignation you sought to make it appear that you were a spiritually solid person who had had a momentary fall because of exhaustion, being in a “far country” and not having enough safeguards in place. Then you made it appear that you had voluntarily, immediately come forward with this confession, out of the conviction of your heart and the earnest desire to do right and only right. Because of the way you worded your confession, I knew immediately that you were not being honest about what had happened.
Contrast this, if you will, with what could have happened. Suppose that you had made the mistake of committing adultery, but had immediately sent the girl away, called your wife and called or written to Jay and resigned. What if you had immediately admitted that there had been a long process of spiritual decay going on in your life, which had culminated in an act that you had never dreamed you could be capable of doing? What if you had immediately, in tears of repentance, sent N.M. away and called the chaplain to counsel her and support her? While these actions could not have undone the damage that had been done, they would have altered the situation completely by showing us that while you had allowed a long process of decay to happen, you were listening to the voice of the Holy Spirit and were determined to turn around, to no longer live the life of a hypocrite. For as you state yourself, “Hypocrisy is an unpardonable sin.”
You know the difference between this scenario and what actually happened. It is so evident. Contrast your integrity with the integrity of Sebastien in confessing his crime. You knew what he should do—tell the truth—and you told him so. And you also knew what you should do—tell the truth. The argument that you could not tell your wife because of her health is meaningless to me. If you had been thinking of her health you would not have had sex with a girl who you KNOW has been sexually active in the past, and who is in a country where the HIV rate is commonly one in three! If you had not been caught, I strongly doubt you would have ever told your wife. It also begs the question of your history. Is this the first time you have done something like this? As a counselor, I don't even have to ask. I know. No one does what you did to N.M. as a first-time offense.
What you have done is not like the sin of Peter in denying Christ. Rather, it is like the sin of Achan. You covered your sin until there was no further opportunity to cover it. For this reason, you can no longer be trusted. I fear that the rut of self-deception, of living a lie and pretending all is well spiritually when it is not, is so deep in your mind that you will fall into it naturally and not even realize it.
You have felt that you were like Mary Magdalene, who had fallen into great sin, but was deeply repentant and ready to be used by God. However, a deeper look at your actions shows you rather to resemble Simon the leper. You have referred to your adulterous sin as “not even a fall—just a little slip.” You have not been the victim, but the predator—the one who persistently pursued a vulnerable girl, and used her body repeatedly to satisfy your lustful desires—despite her protests. Then you have referred to her as a “desperate woman,” when the truth was, she only went with you to the hotel because you had organized it with the chaplain and she believed she would stay in his company the entire time. Then you paid her like a prostitute and sent her on her way with your “inspirational materials.”
However, perhaps the height of evidence of your sin against the Holy Spirit is your deliberate attempt to become a “father figure” to this girl who you had already deeply wounded. In doing so, you gave evidence that you did not actually feel defiled by your sin, or at best thought you could atone for it by becoming her spiritual guide. The best I can think is that you thought you could perhaps help her through the damage you had done. But the reality is probably that much of what motivated you was the fear that she would tell others what you had done.
If you had told the truth immediately and gone to others to help you to untangle the deep-seated web of self-deception and fake spirituality, perhaps you could have been reinstated in ministry someday. Perhaps there would have been some way we could have trusted you. But as if you have not given us enough reason to doubt your credibility, now you begin to promote ideas such as that a man does not need to confess even to his own wife if he has violated his vows to her. Furthermore, you have been heard to declare that this was not even adultery, because it was not premeditated. (As if one can keep a girl in his room overnight and wake her up at 5 am and have sex with her again, without it being premeditated.)
If Herman Cain had attempted to convince even the non-religious American public of such ludicrous ideas, he would have been laughed off the stage. Do you mean to say that those adulterers who are the best liars can be spared the discomfort that others who are not so good at it must be forced to face? That a wife’s only safety is to ASK her husband every time he comes home from a trip, if he has been faithful to her? What would you have said if your wife had asked you such a question? I do not even know how to describe to you how profoundly this gives evidence that you cannot be trusted. If you are so deeply self-deceived as to actually be able to persuade yourself of these things, you cannot possibly be trusted to safely guide others in the paths of righteousness. You confessed because you had been caught, and knew there was no way to conceal what you had done any more. This is sufficient by itself to show that you have no right to be respected as a spiritual leader again.
The reason this is so alarming to me is that this is a powerful, compelling evidence that you have been committing the sin against the Holy Spirit. The unpardonable sin is simply this: rationalizing away the voice of your conscience. Had you not already seared your conscience terribly, you would have been instantly overcome with intense grief and horror at what you had done to N.M. Instead, you kept her in your room overnight. The fact that you did this, and that you were then capable of getting up and preaching in following weeks, that you could go home and live a lie before your wife (letting her believe that you are a faithful husband when you are not), that you could have the gall to encourage this girl to look to you as a father figure, to call you Daddy, is inconceivable to me.
Your sin against the Holy Spirit had obviously grown to massive proportions even before this happened. But to continue to live a lie, pretending to be a spiritual giant and cultivating the admiration of your “fans” for months, is the surest evidence to me that you are totally disqualified for spiritual leadership or ministry. To have hardened yourself thus into the sin against the Holy Spirit will take a significant
amount of time, and intense confrontation with the Word of God, to heal. It is not sufficient for you to simply attempt to heal by yourself—you need someone else to assist you in confronting your self-deception. And even if you are ever restored to having a sensitive conscience, to put you into a position of influence again is too great a risk of young people’s lives.
From reading the chapters of your book that you have sent around to various people, it is evident that you have painted this situation as a consensual sexual encounter. You have called it an “affair.” I would like to defend you by saying that perhaps you do not understand that in English, this word “affair” is used only to refer to consensual, romantic relationships. However, I think you are aware of this. However, due to the obvious sin against the Holy Spirit that you had committed, you were able to convince yourself that you could repair the damage done to N.M. by becoming a father figure to her. In fact, it seems that you have convinced yourself that she actually wanted you to have sex with her! This was not the case. Can you actually say that you did not see the tears flowing down her cheeks, and did not hear her protests and her asking you if God allowed you to do this? What you have done is a crime. Others who have done exactly the same thing are sitting in prison. To have then cultivated a close relationship with her as a “daddy” only made it an emotionally incestuous and exponentially more damaging to her. It is also one of the strongest evidences of the advanced state of your sin against the Holy Spirit.
I ask you to prayerfully search your heart and consider what I am saying. You have lied to yourself, convincing yourself that this was not a great fall, only a “little slip.” You have lied to yourself by calling yourself an eagle, and declaring yourself to still be an eagle, still a man of excellence, despite this series of unspeakably horrible acts. First, you raped (I know this is a strong word, but I believe it reflects her testimony) a young woman, a brand-new Christian and Adventist. Then when she confronted you about this horrific crime, you manipulated her emotionally, attempting to silence your conscience by repairing the damage you had done and becoming her “daddy”—thus creating a relationship even more damaging because you were even further warping her perspective of the love of God the Father. Finally, you have lied to the world, painting yourself as a mighty spiritual giant who slipped up for a moment with a “desperate woman” but immediately repented and publicly confessed. What would your friends and eager disciples think if you had the moral integrity to admit that you kept her there all night and woke her up to have sex with her again? What about your repeated attempts to get her to undress (either to shower or put on a t-shirt) before you just finally did as you pleased?
You have attempted to silence the voice of conviction, rationalizing and procrastinating about repentance and only confessing when you had no other option. Now you even go so far as to promote the idea that a man who does such a thing does not have to admit or apologize to anyone except God and the person with whom he has had sex. This declaration of yours, all by itself, tells me far more than I ever wanted to know about the steps you already took before that night.
I know this has been a hard letter to read. It would be a very different letter if I knew you were not considering returning to public ministry and promoting your version of how to deal with adultery. I have had to write so strongly because I believe you are in grave danger of pushing away the pleading of the Holy Spirit and convincing not only yourself but others of a deadly lie. I urge you to take time to heal and to deal with the deeper root issues rather than serving up the superficial answers given in your book. I pray that you will not take my words lightly, but will prayerfully allow God to do what He needs to do to rectify this situation so that you may yet be saved, and some good may come from this situation.
I know what I have written is painful. I pray that the knife brings the deep-seated infection to the surface, that you may find healing in Christ.
This action might not be possible to undo. Are you sure you want to continue?