For most us who grew up in the church, it's probably a given that we should trust our pastors. After all, they're supposed to be our "leaders" that we're called to obey and submit to (Heb 13:17). This is especially true in Asian circles where a person's status and authority is taken into high consideration.
However the problem is that in a lot of Asian churches, it doesn't really take much to become a pastor. So long as a person has a seminary degree, speaks English, and has ministry experience, he's most likely able to be a candidate for many Asian churches looking for a youth leader. But churches don't often take into consideration that this candidate can also be a complete weirdo.
To perpetuate this problem, Christians tend to presume that if someone's a pastor, he must be holy. I mean, he teaches the Bible, leads prayer meetings, and dedicates his life to serving the church. Therefore if this guy ever says something weird that makes us feel uncomfortable, we tend to give him the benefit of the doubt. I mean, he's a pastor, right?
Well just know that pastors are human too - which means they're capable of sin and, yes, capable of being a total creeper. While most pastors out there are genuinely great guys, I've met and heard of many creepy ones. And there's enough of them out there that I think people - especially young Christian girls - need to be aware of their existence.
Why Some Pastors End Up Being Creepy
I think Christians need to realize that while seminary teaches you how to study the Bible, it doesn't teach you how to behave in social settings. Talk to any pastor and they'll tell you they've met a lot of strange dudes in their biblical classes. They're filled with weirdos who are super awkward and have no friends. But once these guys graduate seminary, they will apply for a position at a church and become a pastor. He'll be able to preach and teach - but he'll also be weird.
Now there's nothing necessarily wrong with a pastor being weird. But it becomes a problem if he's weird in a sexually creepy way. What I mean by this is that he'll do things that make people - particularly girls - feel really uncomfortable. It could be a look or a comment or a touch. There'll be nothing blatantly criminal about his actions, but it's enough to make you shudder. And while it's good to give the benefit of the doubt, there's also a chance that he's just a creepy guy who happens to be a pastor.
You see creepy pastors are usually lonely and sexually frustrated. So they can't help but leak, which makes them do inappropriate-yet-not-illegal things like stroking a girl's hair or stare at you 3-4 seconds longer than they should. Most of these pastors don't intend to come off as creepy. But if you're lonely and sexually frustrated and always surrounded by cutesy little Asian girls who admire and respect you, then you may end up doing some weird crap.
So what are some signs that you're probably dealing with one of these creepy pastors?
Signs of a Creepy Pastor
1) Creepy Pastors Are Usually Single
Most creepy pastors tend to be single, which explains the lonelness and sexual frustration. You see, pastoral ministry requires a pastor to pour themselves into the lives of others. But this is difficult to sustain when no one is pouring into his life. That's where having a spouse helps. So if he don't have one, he's more susceptible to leak.
Now don't get me wrong: just because a pastor is single doesn't mean he's automatically a creeper. There are plenty of great unmarried pastors. But what makes a creepy pastor different is that he really doesn't want to be single. Instead, he makes it very well-known that he's looking for his "Proverbs 31 woman." And this is what adds to his creepiness. We know he's on the prowl.
2) Creepy Pastors Are Overly Touchy
Again, creepy pastors won't do anything that's blatantly criminal - but they do just enough to make you think, "Uh, what the heck was that?" They won't just pat you on the back; they'll rub it in a circular motion. They won't offer you a side hug; they'll give you a full frontal one. They won't take a picture with their arm around your shoulder; they'll place their hand around your waist.
In other words, creepy pastors are always touching somebody, and they're always touching in a legal but socially inappropriate way. These isolated moments aren't enough to make you feel like you need to tell others. But if they keep adding up, then there's a good chance that you've got yourself a creeper. And this leads to my next point.
3) Creepy Pastors Always Have a Track Record
If ever you ask a friend, "Hey, did you ever think Pastor so-and-so comes off a little creepy?" they will likely respond by saying, "Omigosh. Yes! He gives me the heebie-jeebies." That's because creepy pastors don't just come off creepy to you - they come off as creepy to everybody. As a result, they often have a reputation that follows them everywhere they go.
This is why creepy pastors will often move from church to church. They can't lost long in one spot. Their creepiness builds up too long in a congregation until it one day erupts and leads them to do something border-line illegal that's still not enough to send them to jail but just enough to get them fired from. And so he'll move on to the next church, bringing his creepiness along with him.
4) Creepy Pastors Minister Primarily to Girls
Creepy pastors tend to always hang out with the girls at church. And not just any girls - it's always the naive cutesy girl or the dark eye-liner, shady-looking one. Creepy pastors will always make time to meet up with these girls, and they'll almost always do this in a one-on-one setting. Sometimes they may even DM or text these girls random things ("hey how you're doing?") or call them at random times.
Now there's nothing necessarily wrong with a pastor meeting a girl one-on-one or sending her a text message. But what makes it creepy is when a pastor never interacts like this with any of the guys at his church. No, he only does this with a particular type of girl - and always in a private, discreet manner.
5) Creepy Pastors Usually Lead Youth or College Ministries
Not to put youth or college pastors on blast, but I notice that most creepy pastors tend to serve with younger Christians. Why so? Well, I think adults have enough social experience to know what's weird and what's not. So most older Christian girls won't tolerate their pastor pinching their thighs without some form of retaliation.
But high school kids? College students? They tend to be more vulnerable. They don't know how to react to stuff like that. It could be because they don't know how to identify creepiness yet. Or maybe it's the whole "benefit-of-the-doubt" thing they have authority figures. But whatever the case may be, creepy pastors are rarely seen ministering to adults. Their natural habitat is in youth or college ministry.
Don't Be That Naive Christian Girl
So why don't we hear more about these guys? Well, I think it's because Christian girls don't realize when they're being targeted by a creepy pastor. She thinks he's just being pastoral and that's why he always calls her at midnight. She thinks he's personable and that's why he's always asking about her love life. She thinks he's loving and that's why he always wants to grab coffee.
And even if he has a track record or does things that make her feel uncomfortable, she gives him a pass because, well, he's a pastor. If he makes her feel weird, she thinks it's probably just her. He's just misunderstood. And if friends point things out about him, she'll think that people don't know him the way she does.
Well, I've heard enough real-life stories about creepy pastors to reply, "No, trust your instincts." If a pastor makes you feel weird, it's likely because he's doing something that's making you feel weird. And while he may not end up doing anything criminal with you, the pastoral care is probably not as pastoral as you think it is.
My Personal Hope
Now I hope this doesn't cause a witch hunt where Christians gathering together and gossip about all the creepy pastor in their circle of churches. First of all, everybody already knows who the creepy pastors are, so there's no point of fanning the flame. And secondly, as mentioned above, most pastors out there are good, genuine guys. So your hunt won't reap much fruit.
I also hope this doesn't make Christians unfairly label pastors as creepy just because he accidentally gave you a front-hug. I'm sure if we examined your life, you've probably done some socially inappropriate things too. Remember a pastor is only creepy if he has a track record for this kind of stuff where when you mention his name to others, they all shudder in agreement.
Rather my hope is that if anyone - especially young Christian girls - ever does encounter a pastor that makes you feel weird, that you'd be very cautious around him. Don't be naive. Just because he's a pastor doesn't mean he's incapable of being a creeper. There are inappropriate ways to relate to a pastor even if it doesn't seem blatantly inappropriate. Don't let his spiritual role in your life blind you.
So young Christian girls - beware the creepy pastor. They're a rare species but they're out there probably looking to counsel someone like you.