Carl Lentz, Hillsong, and Taking Heed Lest We Fall

Carl Lentz, the celebrity pastor of Hillsong NYC and a one-time spiritual advisor to Justin Beiber was fired from his church this week for adultery.

In many cases, there is an incredible lack of accountability for pastors. Mark Driscoll and Mars Hill Church had issues for years before he was terminated. But one thing that still gets you immediately terminated no matter who you are is adultery. Lentz confessed and took full responsibility, writing:

When you accept the calling of being a pastor, you must live in such a way that it honors the mandate. That it honors the church, and that it honors God. When that does not happen, a change needs to be made and has been made in this case to ensure that standard is upheld…I was unfaithful in my marriage, the most important relationship in my life and held accountable for that. This failure is on me, and me alone and I take full responsibility for my actions.

People are no doubt wondering how he could do such a thing. But it’s all too easy to understand.

When Men Become Celebrities

When men become genuine celebrities, they achieve a sort of super-alpha status that magnetically draws women. The vast majority of men can’t even relate to this. Most men have to work hard to win female interest. These men have to work to keep away the women who want them. Note how the Daily Mail says Lentz’s alleged mistress had posted online that she wanted to meet him.

In 2 Kings 8, the King of Aram sends Hazael to inquire of Elisha about healing:

And Hazael said, “Why is my lord weeping?” And he answered, “Because I know the evil that you will do to the sons of Israel: you will set their fortified cities on fire, you will kill their young men with the sword, their little ones you will smash to pieces, and you will rip up their pregnant women.” Then Hazael said, “But what is your servant—a lowly dog—that he could do this great thing?” And Elisha answered, “The Lord has shown me that you will be king over Aram.”

As John Owen put it in The Mortification of Sin, a man’s confidence in his ability to resist sin is undermined when he’s put in a position to be severely tempted by it.

Paul says that anyone who thinks he stands should take heed lest he fall. The lesson of Carl Lentz is not in what happened to him but what could happen to us if we are not watchful. We might not be super-alphas. But with the right woman at the right time, sin is always possible.

The Billy Graham Rule or the Mike Pence Rule are ridiculed as retrograde and sexist. But regardless of how you do it, if you don’t have a system in place to keep from getting into situations where you could be potentially tempted and compromised, you are playing with fire. And can a man carry hot coals next to his chest and not get burned?

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