He Said-She Said: Is This Behavior Inappropriate?
- Thursday, June 30, 2011
EDITOR'S NOTE: Each He Said-She Said column features a question from a Crosswalk.com reader with responses from a male and female point of view. If you've got a question about anything related to singleness or living the single life, please submit it to He Said-She Said (selected questions will be posted anonymously).
QUESTION: My fiancé has been attending a skid-row mission for the last twelve years. She is one of the leaders as well as a board member of that church. Due to circumstances in her childhood and youth, she has been seeing the senior pastor nearly every week for counseling and prayer during those twelve years. I have attended this church myself and have been a leader as well.
I feel that it is totally and completely inappropriate for the senior pastor, who is a married man, to call my fiancée on a daily basis. They see each other every Wednesday and every Sunday at church. He claims that he is concerned about her plus the fact that she is third in the hierarchy of command that he can call her every day. I see the senior pastor as someone who is a lord or king of his church and that everyone must bow to him. This is more than submitting to him as a parishioner to a pastor.
HE SAID: I understand your concern and can empathize with the reason for your uneasiness toward the growing relationship between your fiancé and her senior pastor.
In most mishaps, accidents or failings, there is rarely only one specific aspect of a situation that goes astray, but rather a series of missteps, lapses in judgment or oversights that cause ultimate demise. This can be seen in everything from airline disasters to financial scandals to relationships. Oftentimes, those closest to the circumstances are the last to recognize any signals which may seem obvious to those around them.
In this case, you have identified a couple of warning signs that are cause for concern.
Your fiancée has been in a counseling relationship for nearly twelve years with the same male authority. Most ministries prohibit male-female counseling for the protection of both parties, to alleviate the appearance of wrong-doing and to reduce the natural temptation for a vulnerable female to cleave to her male influence.
Consistent prayer between two people can easily develop into a deep spiritual intimacy which is the reason why a husband and wife are encouraged to participate in prayer together daily. On the other hand, when prayer is between two of the opposite sex while one or both are married to someone else, it can cause a spiritual bond that should not occur outside of their marriages.
Since your fiancée also answers to the senior pastor in a subordinate role in the church, there is some reason for him to be speaking to her on a regular basis; however, daily phone calls should not necessarily be a part of their communication. These days, there are so many other ways that instructions or lists of things needing to be accomplished can be communicated without having to make a personal call.
Whether anything is or had been “going on” between the senior pastor and your fiancée, or not, they are definitely placing themselves, from what you tell us, in a compromising situation and should be addressed in some way. However, if you truly love and care about your fiancée, it would be prudent and imperative for you to trust her completely until proven otherwise.
You may want to first share your feelings with the “second in command” at the church to see if he agrees there is some cause for alarm. When you speak with him, be careful to word your questions in a way that is unbiased and allows him to give you his honest opinion, not just confirm what you want to hear. You may also find out if the pastor is consistent in the method he communicates with him and with your fiancée.
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