Just a few pointers here
1. Honest self-awareness is necessary
So, if you find yourself admiring minors (boys or girls) and every now and then you even have an erection while admiring any of them you need clinical help!
May I throw in a statement here for us all to ponder? The frequency with which a [married] person lusts is an index of his/her I.Q, not intelligence quotient but infidelity quotient.
Never assume you are stronger than you really are. I share with you what I remind myself ever so often, ‘I have not committed the sins of other men not because I lack their strong desire for immorality but maybe I just lack their opportunity but if opportunity meets desire, I would be dead meat like anybody else!’
Friends I struggle too (and thank God for friends like Drs. Barry Davidson and Neal Walker especially, from whom I can get loving but firm guidance), but I try to be as honest as I can with myself. No, seriously, so one of my favourite hymns of reality therapy is ‘Prone to wander Lord I feel it…’
2. Depth psychotherapeutic assessment of potential clergy candidates and periodic similar assessment while serving SHOULD BE MANDATORY.
As Psychologist Joan Pinkney urges: “A course in Human sexuality and therapy sessions should form part of any training for clergy to unearth sexual fantasies, effects of childhood sexual/other types of abuse, self-esteem/self-concept/esteem issues, sexual orientation issues (in keeping with Biblical principles), dealing with suppressed sexual energy (in keeping with the call to celibacy/purity and pastoral ministry), exercising self-control etc.”
3. Redemptive therapeutic options for those who are in need via disclosure or diagnosis/detection/discernment
Psychologist Pinkney once again: “Once sexual abuse is made public, restoration to public service may be difficult in our culture for the offenders, as the laity and society may not see them capable to carry out the Lord’s work. The offence carries a stigma which may be the closest one gets to the unpardonable sin (by humans). Our culture does not tolerate homosexuality at any level – therein lies another challenge. However, systems should be in place in the church for redemption and restoration. This must be ongoing and handled by appropriately trained personnel in the field of counseling/ psychology/psychiatry.”
4. Effective accountability systems/partners should be required in all denominations and independent churches.
These would need the input of highly trained therapists including Christian sexologists.
Clinical Psychologist, Dr. the Rev. Neal Walker, my JTS batch mate says: “In general, we don’t have an effective system in place to evaluate our clergy. We go to Bible college or seminary. We graduate with honours, with advanced degrees. We are thrown into the pastorate or into other leadership positions. We may hold denominational conventions and conference but very, very few of us ever completed a course (ONE COURSE) in Gender and Sexuality. But even worse, very few ministers receive any kind of treatment or one on one session with a trained professional therapist. Very few!”
He continues: “I have argued in presentations that pastoring (legitimate pastoring) is the hardest job on earth. Forget the 30 mega churches we know about … the ‘run-of-the-mill’ pastor is a sufferer. He (or she) has few friends, hardly shares the heart, struggles to avoid cussing out people who call themselves elders and deacons (and I mean using the F bomb), receives no good pay and fewer thank yous, struggles with porn, hides any sins committed and acts like he/she is enjoying pastoring. I deal daily with the dark side of human life but my 20 years of pastoring were the most challenging years of my life.
“Every clergyperson should avail himself/herself (men in particular) to one solid full year of couch sessions. I did and am happy my clinical program demanded it. If we cannot afford to seek professional services, find a seasoned person who could hear you out.
We (clergy) all need a safe harbor where we could unpack ourselves.”
Friends I leave it there and open now for your questions and comments.
Rev. Clinton Chisholm, Academic Dean, Caribbean Graduate School of Theology