Culture Ethics Institutions Opinion

Affairs so cliché: Other sins pastors can commit

A pastor committing the sin of having hair grow out of his nose | Image by Leslie Gr. In via Flickr (

It seems to me these days we have an epidemic of pastors having affairs. After Tullian Tchividjian confessed his second affair and was let go from his second church, I wonder if it’s simply a lack of imagination that keeps most pastors from committing other sins. Sure, we all struggle with lust from time to time, but aren’t there different temptations worth giving into if you’re going to lose your job? Something more, well, original?

“I forgot to honor the Sabbath and keep it holy; please accept my resignation.”

“I ate some fish, I don’t know what kind but it would definitely be one of those ‘whatsoever hath no fins nor scales in the water.’ Sin runs deep.”

“I stole candy from the grocery store bulk bins when no one was looking. I sincerely regret the pain I caused my congregation and I find my hope in the fact that I serve a God who has power over the future.”

“I coveted my neighbor’s smokin’ hot wife. I didn’t sleep with her, but I did call her ‘smokin’ hot,’ which the Bible says is a term that should only be used for your own wife. I am a sinner saved by grace.”

“I’m an arrogant asshole, and I finally realized it. I’m not resigning, just letting you know that I know.”

“I murdered my kid’s hamster. I’m not even sorry.”

“I mated different kinds of animals. On the plus side: Labradoodle!”

“I am not even a human! I am a dog, and you haven’t noticed for years! I am a good boy!”

A suggestion from friend Jaya Saxena:

And, as always, Eddie Izzard reminding us that we can always poke badgers with spoons:


About the author

Laura Turner

Laura Turner is a writer and editor living in San Francisco. In addition to being a regular contributor to Christianity Today’s “Her.meneutics” blog, she has also written for publications such as Books & Culture and The Bold Italic. She is interested in the intersection of church and culture.


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  • As usual, as an educated individual who should know better, you have trivialized an egregious situation, used coarse language, and gross examples to make light of a tragic situation. After reading many of your RNS commentaries I am at a loss to understand why anyone would take you seriously as a Christian commentator. I generally strive to avoid personal attacks, but I would be remiss in my Christian responsibilities if I did not admonish you for your juvenile treatment of serious spiritual matters. You contribute NOTHING to the advancement of Christ’s Kingdom on earth.

  • Who among us is without sin? Even among pastors (hint: they,too, are all too human) who cultivate an air of righteousness and holiness? Let them cast the first stone (until they get caught themselves, then beg for forgiveness!) Hypocrites.

  • Actually, it is the sin-and-sex obsessed branch of Christianity which has trivialized wrong doing, not the author.

    God’s word never changes, unless you want that bacon sandwich. Then it’s “oh, we are only concerned about moral laws, not dietary restrictions.”

    Divorce for any reason except adultery is a grave sin, unless heterosexuals find it inconvenient. Then, it’s “sorry Jesus!” But I’m getting divorced anyway.

    Reviling and slandering can be found in the same passages that condemn abusers of themselves with mankind. Yet large numbers of so called Christians earn their livings at it with Out a peep from the professionally holy.

    Looking with lust at a woman is just like committing adultery, said no heterosexual man e Ed.

    Bristol Pailin and josh Duggar. Moralizing busybodies who can’t keep their legs or zippers closed.

    ThE list of sins some people are willing to excuse occupies far more than 1000 characters.

  • The whole thing is just like divine Trump-hair, but lacking the moral clairolity.

    Get yourself lathered up about your own sin, or preferably, someone else’s sin. Rinse with the ever-flowing blood of the lamb, or demand that they do and “get right with God”. Repeat.

    So called moral so called Christian grifters have been getting away with this for centuries. They earn a very nice living at it, paid for on the easy coin of other people’s lives.

  • Ms. Turner, that was very clever. Thanks for the humorous satire. I enjoyed it.
    Ben in Oakland, you’re pretty good yourself.

    Look, there is definite good in religion, and it all falls apart when there is a lack of humility and honesty. The bible is such a mass of contradictions it loses all authority as a proof-texting resource. So let go of that and the need to twist yourself into pretzels.

    Genuine people do find comfort, strength and community in Christianity and that’s good. Folks who need help do get it, unencumbered by being force fed any particular dogma and that’s good.

    It’s when Christianstry to get into politics, into trying to control others, trying to dominate the public, trying to declare they have the only Real Thing and all others are inferior – That’s when you screw up all the good stuff and flush it down the drain.

    Last, having a sense of humor about yourself is a very good thing.

  • THanks for the compliment.

    I will disagree on one thing, though. One of the things that I really don’t like about Christianity is its insistence that we are all of us, everyone of us, born broken and in need of redemption. I’m worthless, you’re worthless, everyone of us is worthless and in need of redemption. (And send more money. But that’s another story).

    It teaches people that they are bad, instead of teaching them that they are human beings. It also teaches them to pull a Tividjian (or a swaggart, Duggar, palin, or a haggard) and get a get-out-of-hell card just by asking for Jesus to forgive them, which for some reason, but never a surprising one, he always seems to do. And then They can continue to do it again and again, using the twin excuses of I’m a wretch and Jesus forgave me.

    And, despite what Jesus said about not judging others, they can always find the ones that allow them to point their fingers at other people who don’t “repent.”

  • Yeah, that “Original Sin” thing is screwed up and truly not biblical, but so handy for controlling the ignorant masses. Christianity was so much better before Constantine made the official religion of Rome. Those old boys realized that knowledge of being fully loved and welcomed took away any leverage. No coercion = no power over.

    So they turned a very nice religion into a dangerous and frightening thing. Iconography on church walls went from pastoral greenery, lambs, meadows, flowered garlands, etc. to a dead body on a cross, suffering, revering blood and gore.

    Original Grace replaced by the ominous original SIN. (Cue heavy, dark, lower register music.)

  • Aw, c’mon, Diogenes. It’s satire. If we Christians can’t enjoy a little chuckle from time to time, we’re a pretty sad bunch. Nice job, Ms. Turner!

  • Ms. Turner treats every subject with a lightness of heart that is not appropriate when discussing serious moral issues within the pale of the faith. I enjoy a laugh as well as anyone, and being a natural cynic I particularly enjoy Mark Twain on the subject of Christian hypocritical words and actions. To Ben in Oakland, I have been married thirty years, with painful ups and downs, and once assured my wife, “I don’t care how bad it gets, I will never seek or consent to a divorce.” That’s how seriously I take my wedding vows. Further, Ben, I agree that other sins within the church are absolutely appalling, even as I am sometimes guilty of them. You see no sins but those that impinge on your own sense of freedom. You have no objective standard upon which to base your philosophy of life.

  • When it comes to”SIN” most pastors/priest are just like us, they can think of
    many, they are just like us. Just like us they can choose to “do” or “not to do.”

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