NOTE: The original version of this post asked a question that several commentors found unfair or inflammatory. Since the word choice in the question was not my intended subject, I’ve deleted it.
I just read a blog post by a pastor who announced in the middle of the sermon a dark secret about his past. He confessed to being a recovering sex addict. He meant it to be a “you are not alone” kind of moment. The congregation, however, reacted poorly to the announcement, and he found himself in short order being hauled before a committee for some close questioning. The pastor deemed the church to have failed him in this instance. He was removed from his pulpit about a month later over other issues. (Edited to correct a mistake on my part.)
The people commenting on his blog praised his courage and condemned the congregation for their reaction to his revelation about his sex addiction.
But I can’t help but wonder if the pastor bears some responsibility for the bad reaction.
As a preacher I am probably too careful and cautious with my sermons, but it strikes me that part of — to use Fred Craddock’s term — exegeting the congregation is finding the line between challenging them and shocking them. If I think I’m getting close to going somewhere they are not ready to go, I’d want to engage the church leadership on the topic first. If I had a story like this pastor, I’d want to share it with people in the congregation before I announced it from the pulpit.
I share the pastor’s feeling that the church is too silent on the topic of sex addiction and pornography. I absolutely agree the culture swims in sex and the church’s silence is harmful to those who needs its help.
But as a pastoral issue, it is precisely the explosive issues that need the most thoughtful and prayerful and respectful handling.