Survey Finds Most Pastors Don’t Feel Qualified to Address Issues of Sex & Abuse in the Church

New research reveals that while pastors routinely face questions about sexuality issues, particularly areas of pain and brokenness, few feel qualified to speak to them.

The survey — Sexuality & the Church in America I: Are Pastors Responding to Sexual Challenges Within the Church? — which was released Wednesday and explores how American pastors are addressing sexual issues within their congregations was based on research conducted by Barna Group on 410 senior Protestant pastors. The research was sponsored by The Brushfires Foundation, True North Freedom Project and Covenant Eyes.

Results showed that 99 percent of pastors surveyed dealt with at least one question about sexuality in the past year, and 27 percent handled 13-18 different issues brought by church members or staff.

The report also shows that seven in 10 pastors are approached many times a year with concerns about sexual brokenness, with 22 percent approached on a monthly basis or more. However, when pastors were asked about their qualifications for handling sexual problems, less than a third of them reported that they felt “very qualified” to address 15 of the 18 sexual issues in the survey.

Among the issues addressed were marital infidelity, porn use by both husbands and wives, sexting, sexual abuse or assault, and struggles with same-sex attraction. The most common of the sexual issues in the study pastors hear about is marital infidelity, with eight in 10 pastors reporting being approached about it within the past year.

And on average, pastors were approached by the members of their churches or staff about nine of 18 sexual issues over the past year. Only seven issues were ranked by at least one-quarter of pastors as being among those they feel “very qualified” to address.

“I have spoken with many pastors who are trained heavily in theological matters, but have very little actual pastoral training. Theologically, it is easy to simply say that a behavior or thought is wrong or immoral, but living out our faith in a sinful world is messy and not so easily handled, especially since most people under 40 have been thoroughly influenced by a sexualized culture from youth,” said Daniel Weiss, founder and president of the Brushfires Foundation in an email to The Christian Post Wednesday, when asked what he believes is at the root of the breakdown and the phenomenon of so many pastors feeling unqualified to speak these topics. (Disclosure: this reporter is a member of the board of the Brushfires Foundation).

“Sexuality has challenged humans from the very beginning because it is so essential for God’s plan for human thriving. If God made human sexuality to present an earthly picture of divine communion, then it is no accident that our human relationships are under so great an attack.”

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Source: Christian Post