Heart To Heart

My pastor husband had a child with a church member

I have been distraught these past few months, after finding out that my husband of 12 years, who also pastors a church, fathered a child with a member of the congregation. I found out by accident. The mother of his 6-year-old son came to my home to tell me she was taking my husband to court to get maintenance, as he had stopped paying it. I confronted my husband, and he confessed that he’d had sex with this woman when I was pregnant with our third child, but that ‘it was nothing’. I feel betrayed, my trust in my husband has gone, and I’m at a loss to know what to do. It’s only because I need to look after my kids that has helped me maintain my sanity. My husband has done nothing to show me that he’s sorry for what he has done, and I’m wondering if it’s worth staying in a marriage with a supposed man of God, who feels no remorse for the suffering he has caused me. I’ve prayed but can get no answer. What do you think I should do? Name and address withheld

Esther Fenty says

Is your reluctance to stay in the marriage due mainly to the infidelity of your husband, or to his lack of remorse? Some Christians, irrespective of their position in church, fall into sexual sin. Some will recognise their error and seek immediate forgiveness, while others will only confess when they get caught. Unfortunately, your husband seems to have fallen into the latter category.

Yet, as a pastor and, I assume, a preacher of the Word, I am surprised that he did not consider that his secret might one day be revealed. It was always going to be a shock whenever you found out, as one doesn’t expect a Christian husband to be unfaithful, much less one who is a pastor.

Yet, it is possible that knowing that he has hurt you and the church, he probably did not think he could confess. He might have felt that he has confessed to God, and helping to support his child was enough – until he stopped paying maintenance. How does one tell their wife that sexual gratification with another woman (leading to another child) was more important at a time when she was carrying his child and needed his support the most?

However, the trouble is, the longer one lives in deception, the more one accepts it as the norm. Thus, as the Scripture says, the heart becomes hardened to correction. You will need to involve a third party, such as the leadership team if it is an independent team – or the overseer/bishop, etc, if your church is affiliated to a wider organisation – to help both your family and the church. In addition to sound, biblical principles for doing this, it is better to sort this out now, than for it to go through the courts and make newspaper headlines. There are also some sensitive relationships that will need to be negotiated with your children, and with their sibling and his mother.

At the moment, you are overwhelmed by this news. Try not to make a decision based on your emotions but, as you continue to pray and work with the leadership team, you will discern the will of God for you. What has your relationship been like over the last six years? Is there anything worth fighting for? Could you stay if he showed remorse? You can find biblical grounds both for leaving and for staying. However, at some stage, you will need to let go of the past. You can forgive and still leave the marriage, or you can forgive and stay in the marriage. Only you can decide!


I don’t want to end up childless and single like my church sisters

I’m in my 20s and attend a church where there are a lot of single women in their 30s, 40s and older, who aren’t married and don’t have any children. If I’m honest, I’m frightened of ending up like them. They are great women, but their lives seem very lonely to me, and one of my dreams is to be a wife and a mother. What can I do so that I achieve my goals in this area? Andrea, Bristol

Esther Fenty says

I understand that it may be quite frightening to end up like many of the women in your church. However, before making assumptions about them, getting to know them might reveal that their lives are quite fulfilled. They may help you to avoid some of their pitfalls, and they may impact on your life spiritually. Marriage and children will not be for everyone, but if they are your goals, then pursue them with all
of your heart!

Just because you are surrounded by so many single women does not mean that you will end up unmarried. I am assuming that there are not many young men in the church, or you may not have been so concerned. Try to develop healthy relationships with men, without seeing them as potential partners. A friendship might just blossom into a loving relationship.

There are men in different churches, so do not limit yourself to your local church. There are many denominational/interdenominational events/activities which are advertised in Christian magazines/radio stations, where you can meet young men: courses, concerts, retreats, single clubs, etc. You might want to pursue a hobby, or develop your interests through joining some Christian clubs and societies where you can meet young men.

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