Sexting in the Ministry
Why is There a Problem?
Many think this is a problem with teenagers; however, it has crept into the lives of ministers all across the country.
Introduction of Sexting
Sexting as a Teenager. Teenagers have long used texting as a way to communicate among their peers even if they are seated next to them. With the increased need for acceptance, especially from those among the opposite sex, teenagers will often continue conversations for hours in the secrecy of their bedroom and into the late morning hours. They can share private thoughts and feelings with others without anyone else knowing their content. According to recent research, nearly 15 percent of youth have sent sexually-explicit material, and more than 25 percent have received it.
Many teenagers who venture out and expand their sexual experience often have feelings of excitement, arousal, and curiosity, but naïve to the consequences of sexting. Their feelings of excitement may soon turn into feelings of vulnerability, hurt, and betrayal due to someone sharing their “private” messages to everyone.
Whether sexting is consensual, sexting has been connected with trauma, violence, and bullying:
Sexting can be considered a sexual addiction if this behavior continues. People who sext often have the same characteristics and mindset of a pedophile, one who grooms a target for personal arousal. While a pedophile is a person who preys on children, sexting can include children and adults. Most of the time, sexting does not mean physical interaction but if not stopped, sexting can lead or direct someone into a physical encounter.
Some people think that teenagers will "out-grow" this phase of their lives, learn from their mistakes, or from the mistakes of others to avoid this in the future.
"But teenagers grow up into adulthood".
Sexting in the Ministry
I believe there are a few reasons why this is happening:
Increased Need for Texting. Texting has become a "necessity" as a way to quickly communicate with others. While most people view texting as a necessity, it also creates problems:
If for some reason there is a need to have multiple texts, start a new text that will include your spouse in that conversation where all parties are included. These steps should also be considered:
Lower Moral Values as a Generation. One of the biggest issues among denominational leaders is how do we address this problem and other moral issues among a generation that seems to have lower moral values.
Denominational leaders must do something to protect the integrity of the ministry. Discipline and suspensions are usually enforced.
Sexting as an Adult
Sexual addictions are not exempt from the ministry. Pornography and sexting have been increasing among ministers to the point of becoming a huge problem. Pastors are on call 24/7 and use their phones constantly, which includes texting.
Endless texting without boundaries, can become sexting, which is inappropriate texting outside of a normal relationship with the purpose of flirting, using inappropriate language, graphic photos, and carrying on an emotional affair with someone outside of their marriage. They may include audio clips, suggestive selfies, or videos. In simple terms, it is an affair, an emotional affair, that is usually conducted in secret but eventually becomes exposed, causing harm to everyone, including the church and community.
It is often an incentive to start a relationship with another person outside of a normal relationship or marriage. It can be used to express one’s sexuality or fantasies. One who initiates such behaviors will increase texting to perfection to obtain one’s goals and desires. One will usually achieve a goal of sexual arousal, excitement, and adventure within the confines of not physically being there with this person but fanaticizes from a distance. If one is sexting with a minor, they can be placed on a Sex Offender Registry and face possible jail time.
Sexting can impact one’s daily functioning with overwhelming thoughts of sending and receiving more messages. It is often referred to as a “secret affair”. Once discovered, it will always negatively impact any marriage or normal relationship, as well as destroy your career and reputation.
If you are sexting, there are some steps you have to do immediately before your life as you know it comes to an end. Listed below are some steps you must consider whether your sexting has been revealed or not.
(More detailed information on Phases I, II, III, can be found in the section on "Inappropriate Texting (Sexting)" within the Sex Addiction is Compulsive Article)
Phase I (If your sexting has not been discovered)
Phase II (If your spouse finds out before you have a chance to tell them)
Phase III (Restoration and Rebuilding Trust)
These phases are discussed more in another articles at the bottom of this article.