Sexual sin, greed, and abuse of power have existed in the church for centuries, so it’s nothing new for leaders with influence to fall. In the early Church homosexual activity was common enough that St. Basil warned the younger monks to keep themselves cloaked to avoid arousing the older monks.
In the ninth-century, emperor Charlemagne rebuked the religious leaders of his day for permitting sexual encounters to flourish within the monasteries.
In the later Middle Ages, St. Bernard of Clairvaux labeled the Church of his day as the resurrection of Sodom and Gomorrah. Sound familiar?
Certainly our turn in history has been wrought with scandals within the hallowed halls of churches throughout our nation. We’ve witnessed the collapse of Jimmy Swaggart, Jim Baker, Robert Tilton, Ted Haggard, Eddie Long, Todd Bentley, and others.
More recently Mark Driscoll, Israel Houghton, Darrin Patrick, and Perry Noble have succumb to things outside of the behavior we expect from such great men.
It’s not my intention to parade these men in front of a hostile crowd and burn them at the stake of shame. I’m certain they didn’t realize their actions would cause such collateral damage amongst the church. We should continue to pray for them. I do want to examine their lives and learn to avoid the baited hook used to entice the desires that captured their minds, which led to the death of a life they once knew.
I believe 2 Samuel 11:1 holds a key factor to at least one common denominator in the fall of these mighty men. It says:
“In the spring of the year, the time when kings go out to battle, David sent Joab, and his servants with him, and all of Israel. And they ravaged the Ammonites and besieged Rabbah. But David remained in Jerusalem.”
“The time when kings go out to battle”
Up until the spring of the year, King David had been home recovering from the past years battles. It was the time to take care of the business of the kingdom, to be with his wives, pay the bills, take out the trash and take family vacations. You know, the stuff we all do. When that season was over, David’s normal routine was to go out to battle. However, this time was different.
“David sent Joab, and his servants with him, and all of Israel”
Instead of doing what he was called and gifted to do, David sent his servants out with Joab as their leader. He relinquished his kingly duties to another man. He failed to resume his role and responsibility as king.
“But David remained in Jerusalem”
David had time to think and reconsider his decision to stay behind, yet he remained. I’m sure he felt he deserved the extended time away from battle. With all the past victories on his resume, maybe he felt entitled or overly confident. Whatever the reason, the king who fought and defeated lions, bears and giants was brought down by his own desire to be with another man’s wife.
Like King David, each minister I mentioned above found themselves in an unfamiliar position without the ability to discern the danger ahead. This lack of discernment caused them to disengage from their God-given assignment and to relinquish their responsibility to others. In doing so, their minds discovered a desire for the untouchable that produced a momentary delight, which paved a path to their downfall.
Are we any different?
Each of us obtains greatness within because we’re made in the image of a great God. With that greatness comes the responsibility to remain humble and use restraint. Humility allows us to understand the legitimate time to “go out to battle” or when to rest, recoup, and get ready for the next conflict. It keeps us in the posture of listening to the whispers of danger that usually comes from the people we’re surrounded by. Because of pride, King David’s hearing became impaired to any voice other than his own.
This principle isn’t restricted to kings, religious leaders, pastors or on stage speakers. Position, socioeconomic status, ethnicity, or the generational community you belong to doesn’t matter. All of us are susceptible to take the bait of power, greed, and sexual immorality that lead to a fall. We can’t let pride blind us to the hook hidden inside the bait and impair our hearing to voices warning us of danger.
Have an honest moment with yourself and take inventory of your life. Of the areas discussed above, which ones are you susceptible too? If you honestly don’t know, the one question God will always answer is “Lord, what about me is not like you?” Then listen with the attitude of “whatever you say, I’ll change.” Just a bit of advice, you should be in a seated position when you ask that question.