Aaron Ivey Fired as Pastor of Worship at SBC’s Austin Stone Church: Alleged Sexploitation of an Underage Teen and Men Over Years.

“Texting is a supremely secretive medium of communication – it’s like passing a note – and this means we should be very careful what we use it for.” Lynne Truss


Many of our readers are familiar with Austin Stone Church in Texas. It is one of these stealth SBC churches. I’m sure they believe stealth is necessary in Austin’s uber-cool and expensive venue. I think SBC church membership should be prominently displayed on their website along with many other associations, such as Fellowship Associates, a purveyor of Authentic Manhood. Nine years ago, TWW posted The Many Associations of ‘Authentic Manhood’ That Surround Fellowship Associates.

Austin Stone is also a member of The Gospel Coalition, Acts 29, and holds a strong complementarian viewpoint. Aaron Ivey, the pastor we are discussing today, wrote a book with his podcaster wife called Complement. As an aside, I was surprised that the Leaders’ Kit cost $99.99. Until now, one could imagine they were making bank. Except…Aaron had a thing for underage boys and men.

According to the statement of the church (full text listed at the end of the post)

  • 2011: the first known instance, which took place with a teenage male victim and continued over time, involved inappropriate and explicit communications, indecent exposure, and the use of alcohol and illegal substances
  • 2020: involved inappropriate and explicit ongoing texts with an adult male
  • 2021: involved inappropriate and explicit behavior with an adult male
  • February 2024: involved inappropriate and explicit ongoing texts with an adult male (this was the cause for discovery of the pattern of inappropriate behavior)

The church stated:

On Monday, February 5th, Aaron Ivey was fired from staff after it came to light that he engaged in inappropriate and explicit ongoing text messages with an adult male. Several elders were made aware of this situation on the evening of Sunday, February 4th and after reviewing the explicit nature of these messages, it was clear that termination of Aaron’s eldership and employment was necessary in accordance with the clear biblical standards outlined in 1 Timothy 3:1-7 and 1 Timothy 5:19-20.

The church further stated:

Since then, we have uncovered multiple similar instances with different individuals dating back to 2011 that show a very clear pattern of predatory manipulation, sexual exploitation, and abuse of influence. Three of the known instances involved adult male individuals. However, one known instance, in 2011, involved a minor male outside our formal programming.

Yikes.

Before commenting, it is important to note:

Reporting by church

The church is somehow communicating with the men involved while reporting the underage child to the authorities.

Reporting

We have contacted the following appropriate authorities:

  • For the instance involving a minor, we have reported to The Texas Department of Family and Protective Services.
  • For the instances involving adults, the Austin Police Department has instructed that we cannot make a report on their behalf, rather each adult must cooperate with APD in making their report, which we are encouraging.

The church is recommending counseling through its own organization.

The following statement was worrying. There is a possible conflict of interest with a church recommending counseling by their own organization. The possibilities for conflicts of interest exist.

Resources

We want to provide you with multiple resources, including contact information and our established policies for ministry staff and volunteers.

Contact Information

Ministry Safe is “walking with them.”

It is my opinion that Ministry Safe exists for the sake of the well-being of the church first. Yes, that means being trained to avoid child sexual abuse. I wrote the following post: Ministry Safe Video: They Claimed to Be Victim-centric and Would NEVER Sue a Church Because They Don’t Tear Down Churches.

Although the video is now “private,” my observations regarding the video point this out. Here is a short excerpt from the post.

We do not tear churches down. Are they referring to those awful victims who sue these churches?

Note how Norris/Love characterize those victims who do sue, Those people are *tearing down the church.” Instead, Norris/Love claim to be called to mend and build up the church, not to tear it down. Imagine that you are a victim. What does this statement say to you? Maybe “We of Norris/Love are righteous and biblical and the rest of you who sue are trying to tear down God’s church.” Heap on the guilt, folks.

Norris claimed that most people don’t want to sue their churches.

She claimed that statute of limitations in most states are getting longer and longer and may even eventually be abolished.I concur with this observation. However the next remarks bothered me.

  • She claimed that entities get sued by plaintiffs lawyers only when they are worth suing. I interpret this to mean that only churches with money get sued. Most churches these days have insurances policies and I know of some poor churches which were sued. I covered a couple on this blog.
  • She claimed that most people really don’t want to sue their churches because they love their churches. Does that mean that people who end up suing their church don’t love their church?
  • Victims usually sue when they are treated poorly when the bring their abuse to the attention of the church. I agree with this.

The possible sexploitation of an underage teen should be stressed, not buried.

The Christianity Today post Aaron Ivey, Worship Pastor at Austin Stone, Fired Over Explicit Texts raises some questions.

The opening paragraph appeared to say his contact was with an adult male.

The Austin Stone Community Church, a multicampus evangelical church in Austin, Texas, announced on Sunday that it had dismissed its head worship pastor after discovering he had engaged in “inappropriate and explicit ongoing text messages with an adult male,” according to a statement from the church’s elders.

It mentions the possible criminal aspects of this six paragraphs later.

“The first known instance, which took place with a teenage male victim and continued over time, involved inappropriate and explicit communications, indecent exposure, and the use of alcohol and illegal substances,” read the statement.

The sexploitation of the young teen should have been in the opening paragraph. It adds context. Ivey likes both men and young teens.

Was Ivey’s wife notified of his firing on Monday?

It is my understanding that they have four children, three of whom were obtained by adoption. I will not post their pictures here, but there are three teens and one preteen. It appears that two of those children are adopted males.

. They have four children, three of which are teenagers, and one preteen (yes, we can stop and say a prayer). Fifteen years ago, they started building their family through adoption — two international and one domestic. Jamie and Aaron honestly share about their experience, how they continue to talk about adoption with their children, and how their approach to adoption has changed over the years.

Yet his wife posted on Instagram, presumably on Friday after the firing, that she was going out for fun on the town with her husband.

(From CT) Jamie Ivey, host of the popular podcast The Happy Hour, appeared on Good Morning America on Friday to promote her new book, Why Can’t I Get It Together? Afterward, she posted on her Instagram that she was “off to China Town with my man for some epic Chinese food for lunch!” It’s unclear whether she knew at the time of her husband’s firing.

She did not make a statement until Sunday, six days after the firing. Given that they have teens, she should have been included in the discussion unless the typical excuse of “Legal wouldn’t let us” was employed.

Three points

  1. Given that the first text that was discovered was from 2011 and that few other texts were found until recently, it does not console me. It is likely that Ivey had done this before 2011 and has continued until now. He appears to be a serial exploiter, and I believe many more instances of his behavior will surface over time. The church should notify the Austin community of the possibility of other teens who were exploited.
  2. This is such ingrained behavior that I find it difficult that no one else has experienced or noticed his behavior. The church made it clear that the language was explicit. Did he use such language at church or with members, and was it ignored because he was “cool?” Is it possible that he has had encounters with teens in the ministry?
  3. A third-party, independent investigation should be done by a group that doesn’t put the welfare of the church leaders at the top of its agenda.

Just in case you want to see how good of a con artist he was, watch the following.


Message from Austin Stone Leadership

Last updated on Monday, February 12, 2024, 1:14pm CDT

In an effort and desire for complete transparency, we must make you aware of a disqualifying situation regarding one of our former pastors, Aaron Ivey.

On Monday, February 5th, Aaron Ivey was fired from staff after it came to light that he engaged in inappropriate and explicit ongoing text messages with an adult male. Several elders were made aware of this situation on the evening of Sunday, February 4th and after reviewing the explicit nature of these messages, it was clear that termination of Aaron’s eldership and employment was necessary in accordance with the clear biblical standards outlined in 1 Timothy 3:1-7 and 1 Timothy 5:19-20.

Since then, we have uncovered multiple similar instances with different individuals dating back to 2011 that show a very clear pattern of predatory manipulation, sexual exploitation, and abuse of influence. Three of the known instances involved adult male individuals. However, one known instance, in 2011, involved a minor male outside our formal programming.

Due to these abhorrent instances, we feel it necessary to share the timeline as we currently understand it, though we will not be surprised if more is uncovered:

  • 2011: the first known instance, which took place with a teenage male victim and continued over time, involved inappropriate and explicit communications, indecent exposure, and the use of alcohol and illegal substances
  • 2020: involved inappropriate and explicit ongoing texts with an adult male
  • 2021: involved inappropriate and explicit behavior with an adult male
  • February 2024: involved inappropriate and explicit ongoing texts with an adult male (this was the cause for discovery of the pattern of inappropriate behavior)

As elders, we are heartbroken for the victims and their families. Knowing the Lord’s sheep are worth our protection and our love, we are committed to loving this body and rooting out evil. We know this may affect your trust because we know it certainly has rattled ours. As you likely know, we rigorously train all our staff and leaders to prevent this with our partners at MinistrySafe. We are devastated to learn that those measures have been circumvented. MinistrySafe has been informed and will walk with us to ensure that we do everything possible to serve the victims and those who have been sinned against. We are committed to doing our very best, and we need your help, as we care for those affected by this terrible situation. We covet your prayers for the individuals affected, our leaders, and our church as a whole.

We know this news is devastating, and that you may have questions about this or want to process with someone. That is normal and expected and right. In addition, if this has brought to mind something from your own story, we invite you to speak with someone who can help you. Our elders, staff, and leaders are available to spend time with you and pray with you. If you don’t know who to connect with or where to go, you can start by emailing our Care Team at care@austinstone.organd we’ll make sure you are connected to the right person.

Though we are deeply grieved by all that has happened, we are confident that even in the darkest valleys, we do not need to fear because our Good Shepherd is with us. Jesus is still King, He will build His church and we can trust Him to bring good even through the hardest days. This will inevitably change many of our immediate plans, but it doesn’t change the call or the sure and certain victory of Jesus’ church. As we sit in a posture of humble hurt, we also want to grab hold of any strands of gospel hope that we can.

We lift our weeping eyes to Jesus, the author and protector of our faith. He alone is worthy of our hope and our lives.

Reporting

We have contacted the following appropriate authorities:

  • For the instance involving a minor, we have reported to The Texas Department of Family and Protective Services.
  • For the instances involving adults, the Austin Police Department has instructed that we cannot make a report on their behalf, rather each adult must cooperate with APD in making their report, which we are encouraging.

Resources

We want to provide you with multiple resources, including contact information and our established policies for ministry staff and volunteers.

Contact Information
Established Policies for Ministry Staff and Volunteers

We continue to follow and improve upon all of our established policies and practices under the programs and guidance of MinistrySafe. If you have any additional questions regarding the practices or policies, please reach out to your congregation’s Family Ministry Leaders or email info@austinstone.org.

Read More about MinistrySafe


Comments

Aaron Ivey Fired as Pastor of Worship at SBC’s Austin Stone Church: Alleged Sexploitation of an Underage Teen and Men Over Years. — 93 Comments

  1. I made it through the first seven minutes of the video…… don’t know where to start.
    A man strutting’ his stuff in “really cool” gospelly grunge attire while showing how intelligent and how well educated he thinks he is in astronomy and science, and what a great connoisseur of art he believes himself to be? ……And, this video looks more like a warehouse party than a theology conference, with Ivey as the host and the entertainment.

    And the way Austin Stone is handling the abuse: IMHO, a small step in the right direction, but still far too much church involvement, too much in-house. Makes it hard for me to trust them. I think they should also give out information on professional sources to contact outside of the church for care and counseling.

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  2. JJallday,

    JJallday: Over my almost 50 years in the faith I have been in two churches and a school where two of the pastors were having affairs (one of them multiple),a teacher was sexting, and another was viewing porn. These people are good at what they do, master manipulators, and, unless they are caught in the act,can go on for years, moving from place to place, and doing evil things. At one school I was at, a colleague went into a classroom and found a teacher viewing porn on his computer. This was before all the fancy filters. He had been doing it for a long time, and had gotten more careless about when he “indulged.” One of the pastors having an affair got careless about where he was meeting up with his intended, but by that time he was more than five years in with that particular person. It’s one of the reasons that church leadership needs to take leader care seriously. If something seems out of sorts, the folks in charge should be able to ask questions about what is going on and get snoopy if they don’t like the answers.

    After the one church I was in blew up over the pastor’s adulterous behavior (and he pretty much ran the church), I decided not to be involved in a church that didn’t have multiple leadership. I know that boards can have issues, too (Dee has reported on many of them), but if they really have authority they can be helpful in dealing with these kinds of situations. Maybe not perfect, but helpful.

    At least this church is trying to take some kind of appropriate action. If were a leader at that church, I would want to know if Ivey had abused any children in the church right away, and I’m sure the police will be looking into that. People tend to speak up once they know someone has been caught.

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  3. May I ask, regarding counseling for abuse victims, what are different people’s thoughts on what is appropriate for a church to offer?

    Personally, I would hope a church would let the victim choose the counselor or counseling organization, that the counselor be professionally licensed, and that the counselor not be associated with said church.

    Beyond that, should the church pay for a certain number of sessions? A flat amount of money to be used at the victim’s discretion? Agreement to pay for sessions in perpetuity, as needed? Some other arrangement?

    Just curious to know people’s thoughts on the matter, if you’re open to sharing.

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  4. Sandra Ford,

    ““As we sit in a posture of humble hurt, we also want to grab hold of any strands of gospel hope that we can.””
    ++++++++++++++++++

    gospel hope….

    it sounds good.

    what is it?

    is it something different than God’s love and comfort, being the friend that sticks closer than a brother, the Waymaker, & God’s partnership with us?

    i have my doubts that anyone really knows what it means, beyond a nice catchphrase. and a brand for commercial purposes.

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  5. “Aaron Ivey was fired from staff after it came to light that he engaged in… Several elders were made aware of this situation on the evening of Sunday, February 4th”

    “…Since then, we have uncovered multiple similar instances with different individuals dating back to 2011

    …Three of the known instances involved adult male individuals. However, one known instance, in 2011, involved a minor male outside our formal programming.”
    ++++++++++++++++

    you know how sometimes paintings hide a pictorial subtext of sorts within or around the main subject matter?

    or how music can have a hidden melody, alongside the main spotlight melody?

    hmmmm…. a whiff of a hidden something. “known”

    can’t say i’m 100% convinced all this was discovered since Feb. 4, like suddenly-dead-sea-scrolls.

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  6. It seems improbable that Mr. Ivey suddenly discovered, in his mid-30s (in 2011) that he enjoyed sexual relationships with men. The trail almost certainly goes back further, and perhaps additional men or boys will come forward now that the initial revelation has occurred.

    The “complementarity” thing certainly is ironic in this context.

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  7. Sarah (aka Wild Honey): Personally, I would hope a church would let the victim choose the counselor or counseling organization, that the counselor be professionally licensed, and that the counselor not be associated with said church.

    Indeed.

    Sarah (aka Wild Honey): Beyond that, should the church pay for a certain number of sessions? A flat amount of money to be used at the victim’s discretion? Agreement to pay for sessions in perpetuity, as needed? Some other arrangement?

    IMO, that should be established through legal intervention. These are victims that became victims through the acts of church staff. The church should not set victim “compensation” … but I suppose “consenting adult” and “statute of limitations” would impact how this could be handled legally. Clergy sexual misconduct and adult clergy sexual abuse are illegal in several states in the U.S.

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  8. “The church is recommending counseling through its own organization.” This puts the “fun” in dysfunctional. Let’s keep all this “in-house” where we can control the narrative as well as where the information goes. We might have a little time left for consideration of the victim.

    As a practicing psychotherapist, I was contacted by the elders (red flag #1) of a local church about a contract providing counseling services to their congregation. (red flag #2). To their credit, they wanted an educated and state licensed therapist, and because of my past life in the pastorate they felt I would fit in dealing with theological issues.

    All was going well until mid meeting when the “head elder” gave me a sheet of paper regarding the “monthly report.” Each month I was to submit the names of every person that came for therapy, the reason they came for therapy, and my recommended course of action. My only response was, “You must be joking.” No, they were not joking. They needed this information to know if there were issues within the membership that needed to come before the elders for “church discipline purposes.” My response was that this request was totally illegal under Federal HIPAA regulations, unethical by the codes of ethics of every major counseling/social work/psychology entity, and placed my state license at risk of revocation. The meeting ended pretty quickly after that.

    Not to worry, in about a year they had their own “Biblical counseling” center that accomplished all their other goals.

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  9. Luckyforward: I was contacted by the elders (red flag #1) of a local church about a contract providing counseling services to their congregation. (red flag #2) … I was to submit the names of every person that came for therapy, the reason they came for therapy, and my recommended course of action. My only response was, “You must be joking” … “church discipline purposes” … in about a year they had their own “Biblical counseling” center that accomplished all their other goals

    Hmmm … maybe there’s more behind the proliferation of nouthetic counseling in American churches … “head it off at the pass”

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  10. elastigirl: has the whiff that church leader(s) aside from the relative handful of current elders have known for much, much longer than 8 days

    There’s always that smell in the air when these things come up … the stench that comes from dudebros covering for each other, until the potato becomes too hot to handle. I mean, Good Lord, is Mr. Ivey that great of a worship leader?!!

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  11. Luckyforward,

    And this is one of the reasons that these “counciling minstries” do not have properly educated/certifed councilers..

    remember, we that are trained in the sciences are all “secular humanists” that are not using the Bible as the sole source of truth… there are, obivously, VERY sound, scientific/moral/legal reasons for confidentiality..

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  12. Luckyforward: All was going well until mid meeting when the “head elder” gave me a sheet of paper regarding the “monthly report.” Each month I was to submit the names of every person that came for therapy, the reason they came for therapy, and my recommended course of action.

    i.e. You were to be an Informer for Internal Security, smelling out all those Disloyal to the regime.
    Like a Russian Orthodox priest in the confessional, forwarding everything to the Okhrana/FSB.

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  13. Cynthia W.: It seems improbable that Mr. Ivey suddenly discovered, in his mid-30s (in 2011) that he enjoyed sexual relationships with men.

    i.e. THE Strongest Taboo of the Christianese Echo Chamber.
    Which must be hidden at any cost AND indulged as Privilege of Rank.
    Just like Ted Haggard.

    P.S. Push anything like that down and it’s going to come out.
    One way or another.
    Usually with additional dark baggage.

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  14. elastigirl: something about how they use the word know/known has the whiff that church leader(s) aside from the relative handful of current elders have known for much, much longer than 8 days.

    Can’t help thinking of that other BIBLICAL definition of “to KNOW”…

    “Bring them out, that we may KNOW them…” — The Men of Sodom

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  15. How do these things keep happening?!!! Kind of rhetorical question, but also not. Obviously many good pastors and christian leaders, but we continue to hear too many of these stories. Is it oversight? Is it in the training/mentoring process? What is it? How can we reduce these kind of sins against God’s people from continuing to happen? This is tragic.

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  16. That’s great that they (for a change) fired the offending pastor, but as long as there’s a “complementarian” system in place at the church, as Lance Ford said on Julie Roys podcast, “It’s the system, stupid.” You can get rid of one weed, but the whole TGC/complementary/favoritism system is built on corruption and double standards, and if you haven’t gotten rid of the underground network of weeds and anti-Jesus teaching (which consists of “some of us are better than others”), there are many more silent victims (women, youth, poor, marginalized) that will continue to suffer because they don’t have phone texts as evidence.

    Don Jones: How do these things keep happening?!!!

    It’s the system. These leaders are trained to believe they’re superior to everyone else.

    I wonder if he would’ve been fired if the victims had been female. The leaders are probably more outraged at the same-sex dynamic than the outright deception and cheating.

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  17. Ariel: It’s the system. These leaders are trained to believe they’re superior to everyone else.

    And the pew rolls over dead with blind trust. Church, you simply can’t afford to do that with the pulpit any longer! Don’t submit yourself to illegitimate authority. “Beloved, do not believe every spirit, but test the spirits to see whether they are from God, for many false prophets have gone out” (1 John 4:1).

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  18. Don Jones: How can we reduce these kind of sins against God’s people from continuing to happen?

    The 1st century church was exhorted to seek out church leaders who were filled with the Holy Spirit and wisdom. Those qualifications are evidently not on the list of considerations by the 21st century church. Without the Holy Spirit and wisdom in the pulpit, sin happens.

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  19. Ariel: I wonder if he would’ve been fired if the victims had been female. The leaders are probably more outraged at the same-sex dynamic than the outright deception and cheating.

    Remember: HOMOSEXUALITY is The One Umpardonable Sin.
    Just the mention of the word disconnects every neuron above the Christian Reptile Brain and waves a Bright Red Murder Flag in front of what’s left.
    Fred Phelps just didn’t use the Proper Code Words, that’s all.

    And I wonder if the Same-Sex angle would have mattered if the victims had been seriously underage. Same-Sex pedos identify as Straight, and before puberty boys show more feminine secondary characteristics – high-pitched voice, no facial hair, minimal body hair, very smooth skin, and inconspicuous external genitalia. (The default body type for humans without puberty androgens is feminine; there is a medical condition where the androgens don’t take and the individual is externally small-breasted feminine but with male XY chromosomes.) So it’s plausible the straight pedo (and his ManaGAWD enablers) don’t see said victims as REALLY male, so it isn’t REALLY Homosexual.

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  20. Mo H.,

    “These guys always love to talk about how awed they are by Jesus. As if their piety causes them to go home every day and just sit there so aghast and amazed that they just can’t get their heads back into the mundane world the rest of us live in.”
    ++++++++++++++++

    role playing

    like, when my kids used to play house, or get out the Spiderman and Batman costumes and run around in character.

    so much role playing, and play-acting in christian culture

    like a game

    or stepford-world

    i’ve seen dads wired so tight in playing a role as if to win an oscar… as if the purpose was to draw attention to himself and prove himself.

    i could feel the drain on his energy that it took. i felt tired observing it.

    a sad state of affairs.

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  21. Stately: as a point of clarification, their counseling center is not nouthetic. All of their counselors are licensed professionals in the state

    That’s a good thing. There has been an outbreak of Biblical (nouthetic) counselors in New Calvinist circles (a theology that Austin Stone is immersed in). They are “certified” by the Association of Certified Biblical Counselors, but are not trained and licensed as professional counselors. TWW has posted several articles on ACBC that are concerning.

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  22. This is why the “Billy Graham rule” doesn’t work. It seems like a wise rule for Billy Graham to have applied to himself, since he was so frequently traveling for long periods of time. But as a general rule, it’s not helpful.

    For one thing, in an evangelical culture, what man can confess that he is attracted to other men and they are a temptation for him?

    And when it’s applied to women who work alongside men in the church, particularly on a staff, it puts the women at a disadvantage. They are deprived of building the same kind of collegial relationships that the men on staff share. And if men are in conflict, they will often go out to lunch to work it out. A women in conflict with a male staff person will likely have to meet with him in his office, on his territory.

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  23. Ariel: wonder if he would’ve been fired if the victims had been female. The leaders are probably more outraged at the same-sex dynamic than the outright deception and cheating.

    I wondered the same thing. Would they have bothered to look for more or just put him on leave for 6 weeks for “inappropriate texting” and then let him come back to a standing ovation as he talked about how burned out he’d been and his wonderful wife has forgiven him, etc.

    I am not disparaging this church. They have done a lot right. But it does seem that nowadays, adultery with women doesn’t keep a smooth-talking guy out of the pastorate for very long.

    (On the other hand, there’s Paul Pressler and Camp Kanakuk. Abuse of boys or young men was known for years and everyone looked the other way)

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  24. Headless Unicorn Guy: Remember: HOMOSEXUALITY is The One Umpardonable Sin.
    Just the mention of the word disconnects every neuron above the Christian Reptile Brain and waves a Bright Red Murder Flag in front of what’s left.
    Fred Phelps just didn’t use the Proper Code Words, that’s all.

    It’s a selective obsession with the old testament.

    These hypocrites go out every Sunday for bacon and eggs after church.

    But when it comes to old testament law, god either said it or he didn’t and if he didn’t then the bible just may be wrong and that can’t be.

    So in order to sell the faith to pagans, later Christians had miraculous dreams of surf and turf being allowed and all of a sudden you didn’t to mutilate your tallywhacker. Which when you think about it was really unfair to the Israelites of the old testament, how many died of infection? How many went through life never knowing the joy of sweet and sour shrimp? Tragic.

    On the other hand the Greek and Roman world brought monogamy to the table bringing an end to Solomon’s ‘concubine a go go’and Abraham’s ‘buy one get one’ slave emporium.

    Oh wait, my bad, slavery was still ok by god. Us crazy humans went and upset that apple cart – at least in principle.

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  25. Eyewitness: One thing I am curious about is how the church leaders got access to his text messages. They first discovered a current sexting relationship. That’s a question in itself. But then how did they then discover all the others?

    Church owned phone? Possibly the initial was uncovered during a repair by the in-house tech person (doesn’t have to be a regular position but the person at the church who people turn to for tech triage [simple fix or we have to pay real money]).

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  26. Bridget,

    I am very comfortable making the statement that they are not expected to report counseling to staff/elders. I am not a member, but received excellent counseling from a therapist on their staff and the experience was no different than that I have received with licensed therapists independent from churches. And they handled a situation of a close friend of mine with the UTMOST privacy. This person was a staff member and nothing was ever reported to their superiors. The situation had nothing to do with what’s mentioned in this article. But the counseling this person received was excellent and confidentiality was maintained per state standards, even with them being a staff member. They offer play therapy, EMDR, have multiple clinical supervisors on site, etc. To my knowledge, it runs like any large Christian counseling center.

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  27. dee,

    I also discussed a friend who was a member, and her experience was the same. And I know others who have as well. Granted, we’re still only a small group of people. I certainly could never make a claim that there is no breech of confidentiality, because I wouldn’t know, and I would always be quick to believe anyone who said they had their confidentiality breached. But, from all I’ve seen as one person, I do not think there’s an expectation of reporting information to church leadership. And, as I’ve said, I still believe outside resources should be made available because there’s an egregious breech of trust and abuse of power here. Just pointing out that the counseling center there is not the typical nouthetic church counseling model run by lay people – which I feel is often deeply problematic and unhelpful.

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  28. dee,

    In my perception (formed over a multi-decade acquaintance with BC as taught at WTS/CCEF, but stale now as I have not followed developments since the mid ’10s), there definitely was/is a rift between the Jay Adams-oriented “Nouthetic Counseling” wing and the Bettler/Tripp/Powlison wing that led CCEF after JA’s departure from CCEF.

    The B/T/P wing’s approach is (as of my last acquaintance) focused on sin, but they are more interested in the “why” than the “what” (that is to say, their focus is on the “heart” more than on behavior). As I understand it, JA was interested, in a kind of abstract way, in the “why” but considered it to be methodologically unreachable (on the premise that the heart is unknowable) and his methodology focused on behavioral repentance (while being confident that the Holy Spirit would work whatever deeper changes were needed).

    The B/T/P wing developed a methodology that may in many cases (critics might argue that it is only “some”; personally I’ve found the approach to be helpful, but YMMV) be able to provide the counselee with insight into the “why” of his choices that lead to functional life problems.

    It is not hard to find examples in the BC literature of skepticism expressed toward medical/biological accounts of behavioral disorders (Ed Welch’s “Blame it on the Brain?” is an example), but as of my last acquaintance in the mid ’10s, there was discernible moderation in that rhetoric. Perhaps they were encountering things, clinically, that clashed with their prior views.

    I think (but do not know with certainty) that the B/T/P “founders” of BC (as opposed to NC) would be dismayed by the use of their methods to spy on counselees for the purposes of church discipline. I think the only grounds they would acknowledge to break counselee confidentiality would be imminent danger to life/limb and commission of or intent to commit egregious crimes.

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  29. Stately,

    I used to work there for 7 years, and have both received and recommended people go to the Austin Stone Counseling center.

    I was shocked when my supervisor knew intimate details of my marriage that were shared privately in a counseling session.

    It didn’t happen all the time, but I know of a few cases where the counseling department does share certain things with staff members to “facilitate healthy conversations”.

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  30. Muff Potter:
    dee,

    Is it just me, or does the Christian religion seem obsessed with ‘sin’?

    It ain’t just you, Muff.
    Sin-Sniffing (especially the OTHER Guy’s SIN SIN SIN) has been a core game of Christian One-Upmanship for a long time. How else can the Righteous virtue-signal their RIGHTEOUSNESS other tan Sneering at and Smashing down the Unrighteous (i.e. everybody else)?

    Plus, keeping the pewpeons navel-gazing obsessed with their own SIN SIN SIN is a great mechanism for keeping them in line. Otherwise, they might get Uppity.

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  31. Burwell Stark:
    It’s getting to the point that one thinks the louder a male ministry leader advocates for complementarianism, the more likely he is struggling with a sexual sin.

    “The more Pious, the more Pervy.”
    — Unknown, most likely a blog comment

    “Bait a trap with P*ssy and you’ll catch a Preacher every time.”
    — Chrisitan Monist’s Uncle

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  32. Jack,

    “old testament law, …

    …On the other hand the Greek and Roman world brought monogamy to the table bringing an end to Solomon’s ‘concubine a go go’and Abraham’s ‘buy one get one’ slave emporium.”
    +++++++++++++

    i’ve long pondered that if God speaks to people (i believe God does), then God conveys truths & information inside the paradigm of the current cultural structure of the time.

    as such, God doesn’t prescribe the cultural structure of things (religious, dietary, marriage, sexual, etc.),

    but uses how people are already doing things to explain Godself and the highest principles.

    like a good teacher does.

    observing what the student is already doing on his or her own accord,

    and finding ways to use those things to teach them a concept or principle or skill that is part of greater whole.

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  33. Muff Potter,

    “Is it just me, or does the Christian religion seem obsessed with ‘sin’?”
    ++++++++++++++++++

    yeah… i think it’s like

    –a trapeze artist in training is hooked up to safety cables

    –training wheels on a bike

    –cue cards for public speaking

    …all of things have scary unknowns. the superstructure of tangible cables, stablizers, and paper to hold give comfort.

    sin rules give comfort in a way. concrete superstructure built around something / someone invisible. which or who is not altogether unfearsome.

    but it keeps people in a realm of safety and prevents them from being challenged, never learning mastery.

    they rely on the superstructure.

    and it keeps them dependent on the trainer and the one who manufactures the superstructure.

    so it gives the trainer and the manufacturer a purpose, a job, and income.

    the situation is rife with opportunities to exploit others.

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  34. No Dee, there has been a real shift away from Nouthetic counseling
    senecagriggs,

    Maybe in your neck of the woods – but, hop in my car and take a 20 minute ride with me. You’ll se that what you claim is not the case here. And, I’m an hour and twenty away from SBC HQ, if you want to ride to Nashville and see what they say. Dee is right, they call it biblical counseling.

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  35. Eyewitness,

    The “Billy Graham Rule” was only one of several personal resolutions agreed upon by Graham and a few more traveling preachers…. agreed upon by a only handful of men as a way to protect their reputations as they traveled from place to place.
    Those resolutions included finances, publicity stunts (bragging)…..

    Those other resolutions have been ignored, but the Billy Graham Rule has been informally adopted as the 11th commandment by many (divinely justified misogyny?)….. But, I guess it’s still okay to lie from the pulpit and skim as much money from churches as a man can. Sheesh, a few of those first 10 commandments are just recommendations.

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  36. Stately,

    Thank you for your response. I’d still not trust a therapist paid by a church. I wouldn’t trust their counseling, nor their loyalty. This is from experience.

    I do, however, trust secular therapists to honor someone’s religious beliefs without using them to exploit the counselee. This is from experience as well.

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  37. Bridget,

    I don’t blame you! I’ve had experience with both and agree. An excellent therapist would never impose their beliefs and values on the client, and I can understand why anyone seeking counseling would feel much less comfortable trusting that to actually happen when the person is paid by a church. Especially in a situation like this one.

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  38. Hmm…

    https://relevantmagazine.com/faith/jamie-ivey-want-to-be-like-jesus-start-by-serving-like-him/

    “I’ve figured out one of the best ways to serve my husband, and though it sounds downright unconventional, it works for us…Aaron asked one day if he could go away for a weekend. Alone — as in, I wasn’t invited, nor were the kids…I said yes…And what I’ve discovered over the years is that Aaron truly does need that time”.

    “So one of the ways that I have served my husband best over the past decade of our marriage is by letting him head out on the open roads to west Texas…It’s usually three or four days…Aaron has said to me more times than I can count how thankful he is for my sacrifice in this area of his life”.

    “I encourage you to find…how you can sacrificially serve your man”.

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  39. Bridget: Thank you for your response. I’d still not trust a therapist paid by a church. I wouldn’t trust their counseling, nor their loyalty. This is from experience.

    At the very least, it’s a clear Conflict of Interest.
    Especially when said church has been known to be abusive and has reasons to hush everything up.
    The Bought And Paid For therapist becomes just another of Pastor’s Weapons.

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  40. Eyewitness: For one thing, in an evangelical culture, what man can confess that he is attracted to other men and they are a temptation for him?

    Flesh to Pile of Rocks, No Saving Throw.
    And a lot of those casting that spell are probably doing boys on the side.
    (Remember “Jack the Whipper” Smyth’s Crusade – and his secret kink?)

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  41. Max: Eyewitness: nowadays, adultery with women doesn’t keep a smooth-talking guy out of the pastorate for very long

    Heck, they even get standing ovations after their return from a 3-month “restoration” vacation!

    Don’t forget the Angel Encounter at the gas station somewhere in Wyoming where God’s Angel lays on hands and prophesies/commands to Return to Ministry.

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