The Problem with Preachers

The Problem with Preachers March 7, 2021

Last week, an article made the rounds about a pastor that suggested from the pulpit that women should make themselves attractive so that their husbands wouldn’t stray.  There was tremendous backlash and the public responded negatively.  The church and the denomination responded by placing the preacher on administrative leave and reported that he would be attending counseling.

I don’t want to continue to berate the guy.  He is most likely internationally famous now and I can’t imagine what his wife and family are going through.  I definitely condemn what he did, but I understand why he did it.  It is like most things in the church, it’s not that the pastors and parishioners are inherently bad.  They usually have good intentions, but the system is all wrong.

Stay with me for a second.

When one person stands up on an elevated stage once a week, he (usually he) is part of a show.  Most of the events of the morning are designed to be addictive.  Attendees are greeted warmly and ushered into a climate-controlled environment.  There is usually soothing music playing.  Familiar practices help them feel welcome before the mini concert begins.  The music produces positive endorphins within the people that make them want to come back.

Then the person assigned speaks to the congregation.  It’s almost always the same person every week.  The preacher presents a problem which they solve it 22 minutes later.  It makes people feel good, like they’ve made some progress in their life and found some answers.  Monday will soon slap them in the face, but that will only heighten the need to return next week to get their “fix.”

Preachers in typical evangelical church are apt to have trauma and psychological issues from their experience with life and the organized church.[1]  They often feel like “who can I tell” about my issues.  So, they try to work out their problems many times on the stage.  It’s a complicated dance that most preachers understand as they struggle to be relevant and to keep the organization functioning.  Many times, they are terribly underqualified for most of this struggle.

A quite simple principle is that power corrupts and absolute power corrupts absolutely.  So, this person that is responsible for everyone’s spiritual life is ultimately fighting many battles with power, control, mental illness and even confusion.  But I don’t think we need to excuse the behavior when a pastor suggests women become trophy wives—I’m suggesting we change the system!

If the church as an organization is every going to be viable, we need to start over.  And we should start with a basic practice that one guy doesn’t get to speak every Sunday.  It just creates too many problems and it doesn’t promote openness, inclusion, and diversity.  It becomes about the celebrity on stage instead of the people in the seats.

Part of me feels sorry for the overweight preacher telling the women in his congregation to not “let themselves go.”  He’s a lot like a little boy trying to lead adults.  He probably shouldn’t have every been put in that position and he certainly shouldn’t stay there.  I hope he gets some good help and not just Christian counseling to help him bypass the real issues.

The other part of me joins in to suggest that we need to stop creating organizations that thrive from this type of dysfunction.  The church needs to be decentralized and reimagined.

Laura and I wrote a book called Out into the Desert where we analyzed the viability of the organizational church.  It is available on my website as an e-book for free!  Download it here.

I hope I never hear another misogynistic or chauvinistic sermon ever again.  I know this person’s congregation didn’t initially speak up – were they afraid? – were they brainwashed? – what caused them to allow this rhetoric to continue?  We need to totally reimagine systems that allows this type of thing to continue.

Welcome to the conversation.

Start by downloading the e-book and then I’d love to hear your input.

Be where you are, be who you are, be at peace.

Karl Forehand

[1] https://lifewayresearch.com/2018/05/01/13-stats-on-mental-health-and-the-church/


Browse Our Archives



TRENDING AT PATHEOS Progressive Christian
What Are Your Thoughts?leave a comment

7 responses to “The Problem with Preachers”

  1. There are actually quite a lot of particulars like that to take into consideration. That may be a great level to bring up. I supply the ideas above as common inspiration but clearly there are questions just like the one you convey up the place the most important factor might be working in honest good faith. I don?t know if finest practices have emerged around issues like that, but I am sure that your job is clearly recognized as a fair game. Both boys and girls feel the affect of only a second’s pleasure, for the remainder of their lives.

  2. “And we should start with a basic practice that one guy doesn’t get to speak every Sunday.” Authoritarians will not accept that. It’s a non-starter.

    “He’s a lot like a little boy trying to lead adults. ” What horsesh*t. Grown men and women wanted him as their leader. He himself was a grown man who is responsible for his own choices. He made a moral choice based on his moral foundation. So did the community that wanted him as their leader.

  3. Preachers are people too; and People, when given enough time and encouragement, do tend to make “Donkeys” (safe word here) out of themselves. Preachers often seem to be referring to problems that leave the congregation going, “What is he talking about?” or worse. That’s normal, since the Preacher sees problems that the rest of us don’t due to their Counseling function within the Church, and may project one person’s problems onto the whole of the congregation. That’s normal human ‘Donkey” nature. My take: If its useful, I’ll use it. If it isn’t, I’ll smile and ignore it since it was not meant for me.
    Simple, that.

  4. Women in our society get this treatment in plenty of areas – told we need to do better by men whose standards for themselves are clearly low. It’s a result of male domination. Women have a difficult time navigating life without a man – everything from money, to cat-calling, to workplace harassment is worse for single women. The result? Women put up with men, for survival. There is no incentive for men to be better, and that itself is corrupting.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published.

error: Content is protected !!