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“HOW HAVE THE MIGHTY FALLEN?”

It’s not a new thing. Whenever a minister is accused of misconduct and leaves the ministry; the lament of David over Saul and Jonathan, in 2 Samuel, is ours again. I will only mention one name in this brief lament.

If you have not been aware of the recent losses, I will not add to the disappointment by repeating stories we wish we had never heard. “Tell it not in Gath, proclaim it not in the streets of Ashkelon lest the daughters of the Philistines be glad…”

There are some who rejoice; I do not. I look back with thanksgiving that I left teaching to accept a call as Youth Pastor to serve under Pastor Hal Oxley, a man’s man, a warrior of the Second World War, and a man of impeccable character.

He arranged my first experience of preaching in another Pastor’s church. It was a great church and the fruit of the ministry of a man who was a hero of the faith. He had come to Christ in his later years, sold his business and devoted himself to planting churches across outback Australia in the 1960s.

Weeks after my visit, he stood down from leadership having been found to be in adultery with numerous women in his congregation. As a young minister, that event galvanized my attention. Therefore, let the one who thinks he stands firm [immune to temptation, being overconfident and self-righteous], take care that he does not fall [into sin and condemnation].

Over my years of ministry, the regularity of David’s lament has provoked me to address an issue over which the Church is far too silent, the issue of sexual discipleship. As a teacher who began his preaching assignment on the High School campus, I saw only too often how quickly a young disciple’s pilgrimage could be sabotaged by romance.

Young believers need discipleship on their sexual passions. So do older disciples. In 1999 I lamented the demise of four friends in ministry in a single year. Those laments became the provocation to create the Valiant Man course as part of my doctorate with Denver Seminary, a deliberate discipleship tool for the restoring and fortifying of the moral and spiritual integrity of men.

We ought also to ask, “Why are the mighty fallen?” Dr Archibald Hart in his book The Sexual Man, addresses that issue: “Ministers don’t fall because they forget they are Christians, they fall because they forget they are men.” I have known personally many of those whose names have appeared in newspapers and magazines, both Christian and secular, in recent times. I have served with them and known them up close. They are not bad men.

The first time I spoke outside my own congregation on the Valiant Man issues, Frank Houston was in the audience. He came to me at the end of my message with tears running down his face. He said, “If only I had heard this when I was 25 years old.” His grief that night was palpable. How the mighty are fallen. He died just weeks after that night. Frank was not a bad man. He was a man of bold faith and courage, he was a lover of Jesus, but he was a man in need of discipleship in an area where we are all vulnerable but too often silent.

What then shall we do? With every lament, there are tears. So, we weep with those who weep. Then we need to find the courage to break the silence.

[Extra reading – 1 Cor 10:12, 1 Cor 7:37, 2 Tim 2:19, Mat 24:13]

  • Written by Dr Allan Meyer for New Life Aus, 31 March 2022
  • (Dr Allan Meyer joins the New Life Aus – Board, along with Ben Williams and Ian Mitchell in 2022). See our website for details).
  • You can read further about the work of Valiant Man here: https://careforcelifekeys.org/