The “other woman”

Have you noticed, if you have been looking for help here, that I haven’t mentioned “the other woman” yet?

To be honest, I am not sure what to say about it.  As a pastor I have encountered those women.  They have tried to seduce me (without success), so I know what they are like, but they are all so different.

Some are trying to cause the pastor to sin. Others are simply needy, looking for someone to care (and we pastors always try to help those in need).  It’s very hard to label the other woman as a Jezebel, an evil woman.  Often, to be honest, it’s the pastor who causes an innocent needy woman to sin.

But there are those out there…women who are seducing men as part of their passion, their own need.  Solomon described these women in three chapters- Proverbs 5-7.  These chapters paint a very colorful picture of a woman who finds herself in this place…either by choice, lust or vulnerability.

Those of us in the church vilify her!  We can’t seem to do the same to the pastor who sinned with her, but we should….so the “other woman” gets all the scorn, the rejection, and the blame.  It might be more true that she is simply broken and the lusts of the pastor found an easy victim.  It’s all so hard to sort out, but Jesus seemed to clarify it the best in John 8.  Here’s the story and his response to the sin of the “other woman”-

“Jesus returned to the Mount of Olives,  but early the next morning he was back again at the Temple. A crowd soon gathered, and he sat down and taught them.  As he was speaking, the teachers of religious law and the Pharisees brought a woman who had been caught in the act of adultery. They put her in front of the crowd. “Teacher,” they said to Jesus, “this woman was caught in the act of adultery.  The law of Moses says to stone her. What do you say?” They were trying to trap him into saying something they could use against him, but Jesus stooped down and wrote in the dust with his finger. 7 They kept demanding an answer, so he stood up again and said, “All right, but let the one who has never sinned throw the first stone!”8 Then he stooped down again and wrote in the dust. When the accusers heard this, they slipped away one by one, beginning with the oldest, until only Jesus was left in the middle of the crowd with the woman. 10 Then Jesus stood up again and said to the woman, “Where are your accusers? Didn’t even one of them condemn you?”“No, Lord,” she said.

And Jesus said, “Neither do I. Go and sin no more.””

Did you notice Jesus’ response?  He forgave? He didn’t accuse, he didn’t reject her, but he did give her direction for the days ahead-  Don’t do that again!

Could we be dealing with the “other woman” as the cause of the sin rather than another victim?  As Christians, when this happens in our churches,  I pray we model Jesus and reach out to the “other woman” with forgiveness, redemption and a loving hand of restoration…who knows, it might be exactly what Jesus would have done…..

15 responses to “The “other woman”

  1. I appreciate that comment!

  2. I’m sorry I meant I appreciated the depiction of the other woman in John 8

  3. I believe the majority of the ‘other women’ are abuse victims, ripe for re-victimization. Emotionally & spiritually needy, often looking for a father-figure. So do these character flaws in a woman make a pastor’s fall more palatable? It seems so.

    I am an ABUSE victim of a pastor who pursued ME relentlessly for months, breaking me down emotionally, manipulative (using the David/Bathsheba comparison). It doesn’t really matter who pursued who – the greater responsibility ALWAYS falls to the person in a position of power. It is not an affair, it is abuse, because of the power imbalance in the relationship. It is the same as a therapist/client or teacher/student relationship. If a therapist is caught in a relationship with a client, they lose their license. If a teacher is caught in a relationship with a student (regardless of age), they are fired. If a pastor is caught in a relationship with a staff member or lay person, all of a sudden it’s a 50/50 blame situation and the pastor is not held fully accountable for the abuse. Pastors sometimes have more access to a person’s life than anyone else! And if a pastor uses that power to abuse a woman in his church, he is a predator. I’m so sick of everyone candy-coating this issue. There is no restoration to the pulpit for this kind of behavior. I Timothy 3:1-7 is very clear on this. By all means, forgive, but DO NOT make light of what these pastors have done. They have betrayed a sacred trust, and as men of God, must be held to a higher standard. The ‘other woman’ cannot heal until she up understands it was abuse and that major boundaries were crossed by the pastor. It is ALWAYS the pastors responsibility to maintain proper boundaries, no matter what women do.

  4. happyhealthyessentials

    I’ve been that “other woman” twice. The first pastor pursued me and had so many stories about how I was to leave my current relationship and how God had brought him to our church to be with me. I was young, naive and a new christian. He was older, wise and a good talker. I was wooed and convinced. Did I have a sexual reputation before becoming a christian? Yes. Did he know that? Hell yes.

    At some point the senior pastor, his father, found out about our relationship. Instead of stopping things, the senior pastor groomed me and when I called it off with his son after immense guilt and depression, the senior pastor took special interest in me. He actually moved in on me while I was still with his son, but I just thought he was being an overly affectionate father figure.

    It was small things at first, but soon he was more aggressive; making it so I can work at the church, inviting me on vacations and even making plans for me to rent an apartment in he and his wife’s house. I wasn’t comfortable with that but he was relentless. Right when our relationship was about to turn a corner, it came out he was in an extramarital relationship with a parishioner and it wasn’t me. I was hurt that it wasn’t me but also relieved that I was released from his little winks, his eyes that undressed me while in group conversation, his ability to know where I was in the church building at all times, his “meetings” in his office, his quick fondling in the church hallways, his dirty whispers in my ear on Sunday mornings before he went up to preach – I had a way out!!!

    Everyone took the pastor’s side in my church and I had to sit there, silently, while they ripped the lady he had an affair with up and down as a home wrecker, provocative, a Jezebel. Just days earlier I had very inappropriate interactions with the senior pastor but no way was I going to speak up after what they were doing to her. And to share that I’d actually been with both pastors? That’d be a death sentence among these Pharisees.

    Ironically, the woman he had an affair with knew about my relationship with the senior pastor and reached out to me when I came to the realization that I’d been used for four years by these pastors and attempted suicide.

    Oh, and did I mention I was underage when both relationships took place?

    There is always another side. Some of these guys are professional assholes. Or at least the two pastors in my life were.

  5. Happy, I’m so sorry for your experiences. I can’t tell you how much it hurt me to read about your experiences. I hope my words on the topic offered grace to victims like you. What these men did to you was a terrible sin and violation of trust. It is sad that men like this are in a place of trust, representing God. But like David’s sin in 1 Samuel, God will reveal their sins to everyone. And, I must say that it would scare me to have to face God with these sins in my life. On behalf of good men in the ministry I am sorry for what you went through. I hope you have been able to find healing from these terrible sins imposed on you.

    • I found your site with a simple Google search because after years, I am getting closer to processing my experience, beyond my husband, with a therapist. I have attempted to completely forget this part of my life because I haven’t ever had the opportunity to share safely and it’s too painful to remember on my own. But we all know fruits come from roots and there are ‘fruits’ in my life I’d like handled.

      I will admit, my defenses were up when I stumbled upon the title of this post and then read it. I’ve mostly only seen hatred and disgust for the ‘other woman’. But I re-read it. And then I read it again. I do appreciate your words, Mike: from your initial post and also your comments for me. Thank you. Thanks for not being an asshole pastor, defending your own at any cost. I was anxious posting, even with the guise of anonymity across the interwebs, but I feel a strange peace tonight.

      My senior pastor was convicted of criminal sexual misconduct (ha, so much for anonymity – a quick IP search of my location and Google search and you can see the case I’m referring to) and served some time and also has to register as a sex offender for his actions towards the other woman. Surprisingly, his conviction for a crime that wasn’t even against me according to the courts, started the healing process.

      And now I’m hoping to continue on that journey.

  6. Scarlett, thank you for being so honest. Thank you for sharing your story and your heart. I am so sorry for your experience and for the damage it has done. What I hope to communicate to everyone, no matter what has happened, is the amazing and wonderful grace of God that is more than enough for any and every wound, sin, offense or memory. Personally, I hate what sin does to so many and I detest the fact that men who should be a model for what Christ looks like sin against others as they do. For all the men trying to serve God and model Christ out here I apologize for what has happened in your life and I pray you can find healing and renewal in your own life. I will be praying for you.

    • I appreciate it. I know it’s not really your thing nor is it your responsibility to respond to the ‘other woman’ but thanks anyway, Mike. Good luck in all your endeavors and I apologize for grouping you into the jerkface (or asshole) pastor category, just because you care about and try to help fallen pastors. Peace, Scarlett (aka happy).

      • Scarlett, thank you for your kind words. I am praying for you and God’s work in your life. Just one note to clarify though- I haven’t written this site for pastors. I’ve written it for the church, the people who are wounded, I’ve written it for people like YOU! It’s rare that a fallen pastor will look for help for himself. It will take about 5-7 years before he repents, if ever. This site is aimed at and focused on the body of Christ as a resource to help those wounded by this terrible sin. My hope is that churches can use our experience as a guide to navigate their own recovery. In fact I have put these posts in a book form and give it to any church needing help. I have to tell you that I have only had one pastor ever comment here, but those who were wounded are here often. I hope this is, in some way, a healing place for many. I hope my words have helped you as well.

  7. Here are a few comments from my friend, Laura, who has been through the same things Scarlett has. Her words are brilliant and she gave me permission to share them with you here,

    “What Frances said just prior to Scarlett/Happy’s post was spot on. Your response was great too. I agree, Mike, it is so sad that these things happen and such deeply fallen bullies inhabit the pulpits and pews of Christian churches. But they do, and what are we to do? First and foremost, they must be held accountable. It really is the only way. Otherwise, the wicked walk on, more emboldened, more careful to cover their tracks, and more victims will line the ditches while the faithful file past. Second, we must do all we can to create a culture of care and compassion for the wounded left in their wake.

    Scarlett was underage. So what these pastors did to her was illegal as well as immoral. Sins like these should never ever be swept under commercial grade carpets. Which is, unfortunately, what many church leaders, elders, and parishioners are almost immediately inclined to do. They panic. They minimize. They rationalize. Especially if the victim is skating the edge of underage and the Pastor is body surfing the uplifted arms of fandom. In the balance, the two are weighed and measured. Support of one will mean facing hard truths and drastic change. Support of the other means nothing need change; with the member put in her place, everyone else gets to keep theirs. It’s really no surprise which one too often wins in the balance.

    I’m so happy to see she is actively pursuing her healing and not trying to go it alone. Too many don’t. At least not right away. Like Scarlett/Happy, most choose to silently stuff it all down someplace deep within themselves for years. They know the information is dangerous and life-changing, not just for themselves but for those around them. And, not having it sorted out in their own hearts and minds, and no tools or support to do it with, they choose to stuff it all in a box and close the closet door on it, waiting for a safer time and place to process it. I’m glad to hear that time has finally come for her. She intuits that it will be hard and it will be. Which is why it is all the more brave of her to walk to that closet, scoop away the junk she’s stacked around and on top of it, pull it to her, shuffle forward, set it on the coffee table of her present day, openly reveal the dreaded contents, and begin to sort through it with trusted others. And even more kudos to her for being willing to deal with not just the box, but the stuff she stacked on top of and around it in defense.

    I sincerely pray she knows God cares about her and everything in her closet, and that He will be, hands down, the biggest agent of healing in her recovery process. I pray she knows that He knows, that He understands the deep hurt, and that He has no thunderbolts for her, only care, compassion, and comfort. And I pray He blesses her with a community of grace-filled believers to embrace her and embody that for her because that’s where the big healing happens.”

    ~ Laura

  8. Author & survivor Mary DeMuth has a website and blog that has been a valuable healing resource for me and countless others. Perhaps it could be the same for you and any others reading here.

    A bit of my story is included there too.

    Everyone in Christ has a redemptive story. Even you. (((hugs)))

  9. Thanks, Mike and Laura. You’re right on with all of it, Laura. Your words speak healing and understanding and most importantly, they aren’t dripping with judgment. Quite an emotional moment for me to read your words because you ‘get it’. Thank you.

    I sent Mike an email, seeking some additional resources.

  10. Wow. I am the other women. Not by choice , by deceit. To all of you who beleive the other women is some seducer really hurts. I dated a man for two months before he confessed who he was – a very happily married pastor. At this time I had a choice to stop the relationship but I stayed for a few more months because he made me feel like he needed me. Wrong! Guilt eventually won and I ended things. The struggle I have is with my spiritual journey – the deceit I was layed upon. I have read every blog on why and how and nothing helps this pain that has occurred. He’s a pastor – should I tell ? I debated this daily it consumed me. Should his wife know he is living a dbl life? I really strayed away from church and prayer as I just felt like I was beaten. I think pastors are sociopaths – I really do. I care and love too greatly to destroy a church and his family but me myself is fallen. The other women – just a title , underneath a very hurt soul.

  11. Anne, I believe that authentic churches and families are not destroyed by the truth. We recently suffered a youth pastor/youth worker affair. Our church leadership chose to be very open with the congregation about what happened and the truth coming out is the beginning of healing. Though the youth pastor appeared to have real remorse, he was fired and asked not to have contact with the teens. His serious sin has serious consequences. The honesty of church leadership has fostered healing among our congregation and our youth. I will pray that your church responds with the same wisdom.

    I am in a discipleship relationship with “the other woman,” in this case, a consenting adult. She is desiring to eventually return to our church, where she grew up. She feels much shame, and has a hard time when she sees others around the community. My prayer is that she will eventually believe in the full forgiveness of God, and that there will be reconciliation with the church members. I know that it will take time. In this process, I am learning a lot about my own sin, and the sins that we accept, though many are just as destructive to a church as sexual sins (pride, self-righteousness, discord, gossip, etc.). I sometimes wonder if these are the things that Jesus wrote in the sand, and no one could stand under His scrutiny.

    I will pray for your courage, and your own healing. Begin with repentance before the LORD, pray for wisdom about confronting this church, but don’t walk through it alone. Seek a church that does life authentically, without pretense or self-righteousness. Seek a mentor who can disciple you, pray with you, and support you. Grace heals.


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