Spiritual adultery occurs when in the course of day to
day relationships we grant to another a comfort and
refreshment which, belongs to our spouse. This lesson
discusses the roots of spiritual adultery, its symptoms,
and the danger it poses to both marriage and service to
God when allowed to continue. It also focuses on what to
do when spiritual adultery occurs in the counseling
relationship, and suggests appropriate responses by
spouse and the Church. Assented to, spiritual adultery
inevitably leads to physical adultery.
Additional information on the problem of empathetic
defilement will further educate PDM's to protect both
themselves and their clients against spiritual and
The Lord God said that it is not good to be alone I will
make a helper suitable for him. Genesis 2:18
God wants the Body to learn how to be safely and
intimately corporate with one another. Corporateness
moves us from isolation and individualism to
interdependence -from "I" thinking to
"we" thinking. Corporateness is NOT
codependency, which enables the other to be worse, but a
unity of heart, which allows us to strengthen one another
A scenario showing the anatomy of spiritual adultery
A gifted and anointed pastor, teacher, counselor or
evangelist begins to do more than the Lord asks. He
begins to minister constantly, sacrificing even his
Sabbaths "for the Lord." Distance grows between
he and his wife; from fear of breaking confidentiality,
he stops sharing, and soon stops talking at all. Because
they no longer talk, their sex life lacks the glory it
should have. He then becomes emotionally starved and
thirsty. He then begins talking with a church worker,
secretary, or a counselee. Through his sharing he comes
alive emotionally, while dying in his spirit. He has
given his wife's role to another. People warn him about
the danger in this relationship, but he doesn't listen.
He feels at first that this is a spiritual connection and
God is in it. Then he becomes deluded and thinks he has
found "real" love. He then moves into physical
knows that he has violated the law, but he feels good;
this confused him. His "anointing" increases
and God seems very close. Now he is very confused. This
is God wooing him back Romans 2:4.
He now lives in fear of discovery and begins to do things
subconsciously designed to get him caught. Once he is
caught, if his wife forgives him and stands by him, as a
result of his confession and their restored
communication, both believe that he's learned his lesson
and is a changed man. Now we wonder f he really is
changed or did he experience only remorse and sorrow, not
repentance and healing?
What should the church do?
Insist on confession to elders, and put him on a
sabbatical out of the church. Assign menial tasks to be
done in humility. Require counseling to ferret out the
dysfunction, which created vulnerability. Be assured by
the client that the adulterous relationship is completely
Safeguards for the PDM against spiritual adultery
Pray that God brings to death on the cross any,(need to
be needed), and to fix everyone who is broken. Put to
death on the cross anything in you that needs people to
see you as handsome/beautiful, powerful, or wise. Put to
death on the cross any need to defile the opposite sex.
Stop ministering with the opposite sex if your marriage
is not secure and you do not have stability and unity
with your spouse. If you are single, find trusted friends
with whom you can share regularly. Counsel in teams. Make
sure that you have intercessory prayer support. Pray
prayers of protection, and hiding prayers. Do not
minister to the opposite sex without prayer covering!
Build inner warning systems. Do regular spiritual
self-examinations. Watch for signs of vulnerability.
Don't be an every day friend to your clients, be a
counseling friend. No luncheon, or dinner engagements
alone if you and the client are of the opposite sex.
be surprised when or if a client makes you the target of
spiritual adultery. The deliverance process is very
intimate. The client becomes very vulnerable and bears
his/her soul to the PDM. This creates a unique bonding
that can foster transference, by the client, or
counter-transference by the PDM. A PDM is God's love
"with skin on." Sometimes both client and PDM
misconstrue this love as carnal. It is The PDM who must
be in control of this situation. Help the client look
past the PDM to the Lord. Touch the client with the kind
of love that encourages them to open up to spouse. Help
the client to restore the relationship with his/her
Heed warnings of spouse and friends. Pride can close you
When you find yourself in a position of being someone's
lifeline, do not cut off the relationship abruptly. They
have come to you because they have been wounded. Sexually
abused clients are especially sensitive to abandonment.
Make sure that you have adequate covering, and pray
cleansing prayers over yourself. Hand them over to
another PDM as soon as possible.
When you minister to someone who is in spiritual adultery
with a third person, finally request that your client
step away from the relationship immediately. Ask your
client to stop praying for that person and turn that job
over to someone else. If you find yourself feeling
attached to a client, know that God uses you to set the
captives free not to defile them with your selfish
agenda. Back away before you cause one of His little
one's to stumble.
Speak truth to your client about the limits of your
relationship. Say it loud enough for your spirit to hear
it. This will notify' your client and remind you of the
rules. Say, "this is not to get you hooked into a
person, but rather to free you up, so you can receive
directly from Father God all that He would have you, do,
feel, and be". This puts the process and goal of
what you are doing into its proper perspective.
Women tend to be more vulnerable than men to spiritual
adultery. Men have more walls, and are generally less
communicative. Women seek corporateness, and feed on
times the feelings that we have are not our own!
This occurs when, in the process of identifying with
others and bearing their burdens, our mind and or/heart
translates their problems as our own. Burden bearing is
not defilement; we simply feel what others feel as it is
drawn through us to the cross.
We are defiled when our minds and or hearts embrace the
lie that what we are feeling or thinking is our own.
"...There In nothing outside the man which going
into him can defile him,~ but the things which proceed
out of the man are what defile the man. "Mark 7:15
Not all-empathetic defilement is related to spiritual
A doctor, sensing a mother's helplessness at seeing her
child sick, begins to feel incompetent to help. Of course
this is not the case, because the doctor has handled this
type of case several times. Yet he experienced her
A professional musician, directing a choir of people who
can't read music, thinks, "I can't read music, I
can't keep tune. I don't know what I am doing." This
is not so, but he is feeling their emotions.
In the areas of relationship and sexuality, defilement
can speed the progression of spiritual adultery into
physical adultery. A pastor feels the inappropriate
desire for closeness of one of his flock and believes it
is his own.
A PDM feels the sexual desires of a client as his/her
own. If there is an open woundedness in the PDM he/she
might think that it is his/her desire and fall into a
compromising situation, or make a move and get rejected,
as well as see his/her ministry destroyed.
Many times we can recognize when we are burden bearing
for another, but sometimes our heart and minds are
deceived, perhaps due to unhealed areas in our lives, or
the enemy setting out to confuse or seduce us
can we discern empathetic defilement?
Very often, the feelings and thoughts don't fit, as in
the examples of the musician and the
doctor, or those feelings come out of left field
However, if you think that they could fit, and
discernment isn't clear, consider the following
safeguards in addition to those already listed for
o Never act hastily. Give the Holy Spirit time to clear
confusion and restore clarity.
o Talk with close friends and spouse, without breaking
o Pray cleansing prayers over yourself
o Ask the lord for sharper discernment; learn from
experience, and maintain safe boundaries.
o Understand the problem: "For wisdom is
protection..Wisdom preserves the lives of it's possessor
Burden Bearing Defilement
John and Paula Sandford
Empathetic burden bearing defilement occurs when, in the
process of identifying with others and bearing their
burdens, our mind and/or heart translates others'
problems as though they were our own. Burden bearing
itself is not defilement; we simply feel what another
feels as it is drawn though us to the cross, it becomes
defilement when our mind and/or heart accepts the lie,
that -what we are, feeling or thinking is our own.
A woman for whom John would never feel sexual attraction
came for counseling. John found himself thinking, "I
want to peel this woman's clothes off. I want to get in
bed with her'" Alarmed, he cried out to God
(silently), " What is this?" God answered, and
John asked the woman "Since you came in here, have
you been thinking lustful thoughts toward me?" She
replied "Yes, pastor, I have, and I'm sorry.
As a counselor, John had identified with her and felt
what she was feeling. Up to that point. it was simple
o It became defilement when John's mind translated it as
his own thoughts. -
A pediatrician testified: "I'm a well-trained
competent doctor. But, every once in a while another will
come in with a sick child, and while ministering to him
medically. I find myself thinking, "I don't know
what I'm doing, I don't know what to do for this
o A good doctor must empathize, but this doctor's mind
took as his own what the mother felt thus, it became
A choir director admitted: "I'm a Juilliard
graduate; I know music backwards and forwards but
sometimes I direct nonprofessional choirs, people who
don't know how to read music. Than once I have found
myself thinking, 'I don't know how to read this music; I
can't keep time, I don't know what I'm doing!' it didn't
o She had felt the fears of the untrained choir members.
She had empathetically thought their thoughts.
o It became defilement when her mind and heart believed
they were her own feelings and thoughts.
Who has not experienced the following puzzle? You meet
someone for the first time, and within five minutes you
get an impulse to hit him/her in the face, or give an
insult, or do some other strange hurtful thing? Sometime
the person's looks, speech or manner remind you of
some9ne you haven't forgiven, but often it's simply
empathetic defilement. That person had a bitter root
expectancy to be rejected and hurt. Defilement caused you
to think you wanted to do something hurtful.
Why does this happen? We don't know. Burden bearing isn't
always defilement. Sometimes it's easy to recognize that
what we're feeling and thinking is only burden bearing,
not ours at all. In
instances, our minds and hearts become bemused. And it's
not always matter of immaturity in the gifts; it happens
occasionally to experienced, well-trained counselors.
Occasionally the person triggers something undealt with
in our memories, but more often it is empathetic burden
bearing defilement. Defilement can happen as demons
employ tactics to confuse and seduce, but it will also
occur by our flesh, without demonic help. In short, it
How can we discern if what we are experiencing is our
own, or empathetic defilement? Often, because it doesn't
"fit." John knew he wasn't really interested in
the woman. He felt no corresponding passions; he only
found himself thinking strange thoughts. John is secure
with Paula, tremendously moral, and has never ever given
himself to another, or even wanted to. A moment's
reflection enabled his discernment to function. In like
manner, the doctor and the choir director knew their
competence, so the feelings didn't "fit,"
But suppose the counselee is "your type,"
someone who is sexually attractive to you. In this
situation you may not be able to get clear discernment.
We are fallible creatures entrusted with a task too big
for us. It is important to acknowledge this in humility,
and then to institute some simple safeguards:
o Never act hastily. Step back. Regain perspective. Time
is your friend, haste your enemy. Talk with your spouse
or close friend (without naming names or breaking
confidence Give the Holy Spirit time to let the dust of
confusion settle and restore balance and perspective.
o Never act immorally-or in any way Jesus would not.
o Be in accord with your spouse; cease counseling if you
are out of sorts with your spouse. knowing you're too
vulnerable to be risked in the arena at the moment.
Settle the problems at home, and then return to counsel.
If you're unmarried, have friends who check and balance
o Don't be a Lone ranger." Counsel in an office with
others, or make sure there is an authority over you.
o Don't take yourself and your work too seriously; save
time for recreation; have fun, enjoy life; keep your
Sabbath times inviolate; get enough sleep; get out into
nature; if married, maintain a good, wholesomely
fulfilling sexual life.
o Pray hygienic prayers regularly: "Lord, wash away
from me whatever defilements I have picked up
o Ask the Lord for sharper perceptions and increase in
the gift of discernment; learn from experience; build and
maintain safe boundaries,
"My people are destroyed for lack of
knowledge..." So few know anything about empathetic
defilement. We have seen many leaders fall because they
believed what they thought and felt was their own, when
it was only defilement at a time when they happened to be
vulnerable and needy.
"For wisdom is protection...
Wisdom preserves the lives of its possessors
Teach these things. Save some, snatching them as it were
from the fire.
Genesis 2:18 - The Lord God said, "It is not good
for the man to be alone. I will make a helper suitable
Psalm 111:10 - The fear of the Lord is the begin-ning of
wisdom; all who follow his precepts have good
understanding. To him belongs eternal praise.
Proverbs 1:5- ...let the wise listen and add to their
learning and let the discerning get guidance
Proverbs 11:14 NAS-Where there is no guidance, the people
fall, but in abundance of counselors there is victory.
Proverbs 12:15 NAS - The way of a fool is right in his
own eyes. but a wise man is he who listens to counsel.
Proverbs 13:10 NAS - Through presumption comes nothing
but strife, but with those who receive counsel is wisdom.
Proverbs 14:4 - Where there are no oxen, the manger is
empty, but from the strength of an ox comes an abundant
Proverbs 27:5-6 NAS - Better is open rebuke than love
that is concealed, faithful are the wounds of a friend,
but deceitful are the kisses of an enemy.
Proverbs 31:10 - A wife of noble character who can find?
She is worth far more than rubies.
Ecclesiastes 7:12 - Wisdom is a shelter as money is a
shelter, but the advantage of knowledge is this:
that wisdom preserves the life of its possessor.
Hosea 4:6-"...my people are destroyed from lack of
know1edge~ Because you have rejected knowl-edge, I also
reject you as my priests; because you have ignored the
law of your God,.."
Matthew 5:8 - "Blessed are the pure in heart, for
they will see God."
Romans 2:4 - Or do you show contempt for the riches of
his kindness, tolerance and patience, not realizing that
God's kindness leads you toward repentance?
Romans 5:20 .- The law was added so that the trespass
might increase. But where sin increased, grace increased
all the more...
Romans 11:29 -.. .for God's gifts and his call are
Ephesians 5:23 - Husbands, love your wives, just as
Christ loved the church and gave himself up for her...
Ephesians 5:33 - However, each one of you also must love
his wife as he loves himself, and the wife must respect
Philippians 2:12b - .. continue to work out your
salvation with fear and trembling,...
Hebrews 5:14 - But solid food is for the mature, who by
constant use have trained themselves to distinguish good
I Peter 2:5 - .. you also, like living stones, are being
built into a spiritual house to be a holy priesthood,
offering spiritual sacrifices acceptable to God through
Jude 22-23 - Be merciful to those who doubt; snatch
others from the fire and save them; to others show mercy,
mixed with fear-hating even the clothing stained by
on the praying couple for prayer for
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Last Updated Friday, January 18, 2002. 21:33:58