Another megachurch pastor has stepped down after admitting to a long-term affair with a woman who’s not his wife.
David Loveless, former lead pastor of Discovery Church in Orlando, Fla., is the third in the area to resign in the wake of immorality in the past six months. He follows Isaac Hunter, former lead pastor at Summit Church, and Sam Hinn, former pastor of the Gathering Place Worship Center in Sanford, Fla.
If those were the only three pastors to rock their churches with sex scandals, it would be hurtful enough. But sexual immorality and idolatry are growing trends in the church—and I imagine they're more prevalent in the pews than they are in the pulpits. The spirit of Jezebel is often behind this immoral trend, tapping into the lust of the flesh with its seductive agenda.
The Harvard College Munch, a student club that advocates safe practices for kinky sex, is nothing new. But its official recognition by the 376-year-old university is.
Consider the self-stated purpose of the immoral group: “to promote a positive and accurate understanding of alternative sexualities and kink on campus, as well as to create a space where college-age adults may reach out to their peers and feel accepted in their own sexuality.”
Jesus promises authority over nations to those who conquer Jezebel—and judgment to those who follow Jezebel’s false doctrine.
Beyond the little skirmishes, I've had two extremely intense battles with the Jezebel spirit over the years. When I say intense, I mean intense attacks and perseuction.
Both times I refused to bow to Jezebel's agenda and both times promotion and increase from the Lord followed. He gave me more influence over nations, you might say, and more authority.
You don't have to go on a witch hunt looking for the spirit of Jezebel. If you are being targeted, you'll discern it. And when you do, stand against it--not by retaliating against people but by submitting yourself to the will of God.
It may blow up and get nasty, but I'm here to tell you that if you hold steadfast to God's way of doing things, you'll see a major breakthrough in your life when the dust settles.
The church world is getting rocked by yet another sex scandal. But this time it’s not a high-profile leader who has fallen into adultery or homosexuality.
No, this time it’s an “average Joe” churchgoer who is accused of raping a 13-year-old girl. And he’s not the only one.
I’ve been reporting for the past few days on rape allegations at Victory Christian Center in Tulsa, Okla. A then-employee, Chris Denman, allegedly raped a girl in the stairwell during church summer camp. He was charged with several felonies, including first-degree rape, forcible sodomy, lewd molestation and use of a computer to facilitate a sex crime.
The 13-year-old girl’s mother just filed a lawsuit accusing four adult leaders at Victory Christian Center of intimidating the child victim so as to conceal her rape from the public and parent. Two of the adult leaders allegedly told the child victim the assault was her fault.
As horrific as this news is, it’s hardly an isolated incident. The parents of a 14-year-old rape victim last week filed suit against Mount Calvary Missionary Baptist Church in Taylor, Texas. That suit alleges the pastor and other church members opened the door for statutory rape. The music minister at the church was convicted in April for aggravated sexual assault of the girl during a sleepover with other church girls at his home.
Statutory Rape Reports in Church
I’m not here to weigh in on whether or not Victory Christian Center employees tried to cover up the rape or if the family is just so distraught (and rightly so) that it is lashing out at the church. I’m not here to lay blame or point fingers at anyone (except maybe the sick-minded wolf in sheep’s clothing who would use a position of authority in the church to rape a child).
I am here to point out an immoral trend of statutory rape in the church. I’m here to sound the alarm in hopes that someone will wake up and pray with me. I’m here to expose the spirit of sexual immorality’s work to attack our children.
The two incidents I just mentioned aren’t the only two recent church rape cases. In July, a Memphis minister was brought up on charges of aggravated statutory rape and sexual exploitation of a minor. He was accused of having sex with a 15-year-old girl, while another 15-year-old girl took pictures of the act on her cellphone. Although it didn’t happen in the church, one of the church’s preachers was the culprit. Also in July, a Sunday School teacher at First Baptist Church in Whitwell, Tenn., was arrested for statutory rape.
At first, I thought it was New Age culture. But I was wrong. It was occultism.
As I strolled through the streets of Key West on a 24-hour getaway with my daughter, I noticed something that I had never witnessed in Key West before: occultism seems fully woven through the culture.
I’ve been going to Key West for more than 20 years and have spent weeks at a time on the tropical island. But something disturbing has happened in the 10 years since I last visited—and it’s merely a microcosm of what’s happening in the world today.
You can no longer walk down Duval Street—the famous drag of shops and restaurants—without running into the likes of Mahadeo Jerrybandhan, a renowned “peerless palmist” from Trinidad with a long white beard and an even longer white robe. But Jerrybandhan is not alone. He has plenty of peers in Key West, from psychics to mediums to channels to healers to tarot card readers to astrologers. The only group I didn’t find down there were the crystal readers.
Then there’s “Robert the Doll.” Key West profiteers have designed so-called ghost tours that explore the haunted history of Key West, including old wooden houses where spirits purportedly walk. Tour guides will tell you that Key West is one of the most haunted cities in the world with elevated paranormal activity. A local voodoo’istic icon, Robert the Doll will supposedly curse you if you take his picture without permission or forget to thank him for the privilege.
Exhaustion; that’s the best word to describe how I’ve felt for the past two weeks. And there is no natural reason for it. I’ve been sleeping plenty. Drinking lots of water. Getting plenty of exercise. (Enjoying more than my quota of Starbucks!)
Yet the morning I penned this article—despite sleeping nine hours the night before—I went back to sleep for two hours after taking my daughter to school. And when I woke up, I was still exhausted—and disgusted.
I was starting to wonder what was wrong with me. And then I got a friendly reminder revelation from the Holy Spirit: It’s witchcraft. Wicked witchcraft. How could I forget? It caught me off guard. Now I'm warning you.
Discerning Spiritual Climates
I don’t know where you live, but I live in South Florida where the spiritual climate often seems as hard as bronze. (Bronze heavens are part of the curse of the law, according to Deut. 28:23). South Florida is sometimes called the “evangelist’s graveyard.” The spiritual climate is intense.
Sometimes, it seems like our prayers hit a bronze ceiling and fall back down to the earth again. Of course, we know that’s not true because God hears the prayers of the righteous (Prov. 15:8). But prayer often feels like a heated battle when you are in a tight spiritual climate with strongholds like witchcraft and Jezebel. Sometimes you don’t even feel like praying.
The Bible talks about rebellion as the sin of witchcraft (1 Sam. 15:23). Well, South Florida is home to a cornucopia of cultural rebellion through homosexuality, an active drug scene, naughty nightclubs and the like. The Bible talks about Jezebel and her witchcrafts (2 Kings 9:22). Well, South Florida is home to a diverse population that has brought Santeria from Cuba, Voodoo from Haiti and Rastafari—and God knows what other devils—from the Caribbean islands. You might say the principalities and powers here are as eclectic as the population.
But there’s another element that contributes to the witchcraft in my region and maybe in yours too, especially during this time of year: Mary worship. My experience living here over the past decade tells me that Mary worship empowers the Jezebel spirit. Remember, I’d been exhausted for about the past two weeks. There was no natural reason for it. But there was a supernatural reason for it. It’s no coincidence that Lent started on Feb. 22—about two weeks ago.
Mary Worship and Jezebel
See, during Lent some have a tendency to exalt Mary, the mother of Jesus. But we know that's not God's will. God has highly exalted Jesus and given Him the name which is above every name, that at the name of Jesus every knee must bow, of those in heaven, and of those on earth, and of those under the earth, and that every tongue should confess that He is Lord, to the glory of the Father (Phil 2:9-11).
Where Mary is exalted, I believe it empowers the spirit of Jezebel and her witchcrafts. Some people in some religions refer to Mary as the “Queen of Heaven.” But Ashtoreth, the chief pagan goddess of war and sex mentioned in the Old Testament, is also known as the Queen of Heaven. And it’s the Ashtoreth spirit that’s behind Jezebel. The Lord speaks of the queen of heaven in Jeremiah 7, noting that the people of Judah were giving offerings to other gods and provoking Him to anger. The Old Testament Jezebel’s father, Ethbal, was the high priest of the goddess Ashtoreth, the queen of heaven. Can you connect the dots?
During Lent—at least in South Florida—the spirit of witchcraft gets so thick it seems like you have to cut through it with a power saw. Spiritual witchcraft (I’m not talking about practitioners of Wicca, so you can refrain from the séances and curses against me) is a spiritual force that causes you to feel like quitting and giving up. From my experience, it can make you tired in your body. The imaginations hitting your mind become more intense. And infirmities can manifest.
Indeed, witchcraft can cause you to grow weary in well-doing and even faint if you don’t know what you are dealing with—and how to battle it. So how do you battle it? You battle witchcraft like you battle every other principality, power, ruler of the darkness of this age, or spiritual host of wickedness (Eph. 6:12).
It’s irresponsible to loosely toss around emotionally charged accusations like “spiritual abuse,” “Christian cults” and “controlling ministries.” I wouldn’t want to stand before Jesus and give account for misspoken words that carry the potential to tear down what He is building.
On the other hand, it’s also irresponsible to turn a blind eye to spiritual abuse, Christian cults and controlling ministries. I wouldn’t want to stand before Jesus and give account for supporting ministries that are tearing down what He is building.
When spiritual leaders are caught in sex abuse scandals, the secular and Christian media alike pen stories that offer the detestable details and dogged denials. But spiritual abuse, cultish churches and controlling ministries are less often exposed than pastors who coerce teenaged boys and unsuspecting church secretaries to have sexual relations.
Victims of abusive church authority structures may not even realize what they are enduring until they escape its grip. Spiritual abuse is often subtle. Christian cult leaders don’t always operate like Jim Jones. Controlling ministries tend to hide behind the guise of spiritual coverings. And far too many outsiders are not willing to even question the messages and practices of such churches. It takes lovers of truth with spiritual discernment to recognize the sometimes-subtle signs of abusive churches. And it takes courage to confront it.
What exactly is spiritual abuse? Jeff VanVonderen, co-author of the classic book The Subtle Power of Spiritual Abuse, explains it this way: “Spiritual abuse occurs when someone in a position of spiritual authority … misuses that authority placing themselves over God’s people to control, coerce or manipulate them for seemingly godly purposes which are really their own.”
Spiritual abuse is hardly a new phenomenon. You can find instances in the Bible of spiritual leaders exploiting people to build their kingdoms. In Jeremiah 8, the Lord called out the abuse of prophets and priests, saying, “They dress the wound of my people as though it were not serious” (v. 11 NIV).
The root problems of people in the “church” were treated superficially. In other words, the pastor put a Band-Aid on the problem so things looked good from the outside but the wound was festering on the inside. The pastor’s prominence was more important than the legitimate needs of the congregation.
Today, this manifests as spiritual leaders recruiting volunteers to build their ministries while neglecting to minister to the real needs of hurting people. In such cases, churches become like businesses. The pastor is more like a CEO than a spiritual leader. Staff meetings center on marketing initiatives that will bring more people—who will bring more tithes and offerings—into the sanctuary. Church services becomes about external appearances, but the white washed tombs are full of dead men’s bones.
Jesus addressed spiritual abuse in His day. Beyond His warnings about the Pharisees, Jesus also pointed out ravenous wolves. These ravenous wolves look much like anointed prophets, but their motives are dastardly. Today, the spiritually abusive Pharisaical pastor has a long list of rules and demands and little grace for those who don’t rise to the occasion.
Entire books have been written on spiritual abuse. Those books will help you see spiritual abuse for what it is, how you got sucked into the cycle, how to break free from spiritual abuse, and how to recover from spiritual abuse once you’ve escaped its clutches. But for now, I want to leave you with some nuggets from Dave Johnson and VanVonderen’s book, The Subtle Power of Spiritual Abuse.
I read about a new fiction book called, “The Church of Jezebel: Hijacking the Gospel” by Derik Girdwood. It’s billed as a suspenseful novel about a murder revealed and the subsequent discoveries a young Christian woman makes as she finds out all is not what it seems in the world of the church and its missionaries. I haven’t read the book, but the author says it doesn’t have a happy ending.
Here’s a bit about the book from the author’s marketing team:
Eighteen year old Christina has entered a Bible college with the purpose of becoming a warrior for God. Her roommate, Becky, begins dating the pastor’s son and soon finds she is pregnant, but to Christina’s surprise the college announces that Becky has committed suicide and that a foundation has been formed in her name. When Christina is told by a detective that Becky has been murdered and that Christina is a suspect, a strange journey begins of a mission’s trip to Haiti. Derik Girdwood uses his tale of twists and turns to expose the dangers of faith healing, false prophets, Christ-consciousness, the Jezebel spirit and other anti-Gospel doctrines that threaten a Christian these days. The novel cites appropriate scripture along its dramatic path and is based on Genesis 3: 4-6, where the serpent tempts Eve to disobey God so that Eve and Adam can become as God.
Jeremiah didn’t copyright his prophetic words. Nor did Isaiah, Samuel, Moses, David, Nathan, Zechariah, Elijah, Elisha, Amos, Michah, Zephaniah… OK, you get the picture. So when I see people in the Body of Christ copyrighting what “thus saith the Lord,” it disturbs my spirit.
Think about it for a minute. According to Miriam-Webster, a copyright is “the exclusive legal right to reproduce, publish, sell or distribute the matter and form of something.” When someone violates your copyright, you have a right to file a lawsuit against them for financial damages. Doesn’t it seem silly to copyright a prophetic word, then? Doesn’t it seem outrageous to put God’s word in a legally protected box and be prepared to sue someone who shares it?
A true prophetic word from God should be freely distributable. In fact, if God is really speaking—and if He told you to release the word rather than just praying about it—then why on earth would anyone want to restrict the mass reproduction and distribution of God’s genuine prophetic utterance?
In this final part of our series on the spirit of Jezebel, we’ll look at Jezebel’s demise.
Jezebel is an enemy of the apostolic because she counterfeits true prophetic operations that lead hungry believers to empty their pocketbooks for false spiritual moves that work to discredit the true five-fold ministry gifts the Lord is restoring.
But just as mature prophets are rising up with a Jehu conquering spirit to rid their lives of this menacing spirit, mature apostles are combating the false spiritual moves that Jezebel is orchestrating by refusing to compromise the truth of the Gospel for the sake of unjust gain. Notice how Paul dealt with the damsel in Thyatira.