A Letter From Strawtip

(With apologies to C.S. Lewis)

Dear Churchrat,

Strawtip I am pleased by your success so far in stirring up dissension within your assigned parish. You are ready for a more subtle, but potentially more disruptive, tactic in our fight against the Enemy's dominion.

One of the most effective targets in our battle can be found in the home of the pastor. The Enemy said it himself: Strike the shepherd, and the sheep will be scattered. So take aim now at the pastor's marriage. In short, if you can lure him into adultery, his marriage and so-called ministry are sure to fall. You can't make a frontal assault, of course; he will recognize any crude temptation and easily sidestep it. So let me suggest a subtle strategy.

1. Impress upon him the need to stay busy in his work — so busy that he has no time or energy left for his wife or children. If he is like most pastoral patients, he needs to be needed by church members and thus has set no boundaries between his work and his family life. This situation not only sucks the joy from marriage, but also weakens spiritual defenses.

2. Help him to hear any criticism from church members. (The quantity of complaints, not the quality, is what's important here.) Hearing constant criticism creates frustration, isolation and a sense of failure. A feeling of impotence is crucial in this strategy, particularly in dealing with men.

3. Certainly you can find at least one needy-yet-sympathetic woman who is eager to tell the pastor how much she admires him, depends on him and wants to "encourage" him. If she is young and attractive, so much the better, but her appearance is not as important as her adoration. Be sure to spiritualize the relationship — for example, she can be his prayer partner.

4. The Enemy encourages intimacy — through prayer, of all things. We might find this arrangement nauseating, but fortunately, it can serve the purposes of Our Father Below. (Under no circumstances, however, should real prayer be allowed to enter the scene. As sure as heaven, actual communication with the Enemy will sabotage your work. These meetings should quickly evolve into occasions for "sharing" or "informal counseling.") But as the pastor and his "friend" become emotionally involved, convince him that an occasional touch, hug or kiss is harmless, even appropriate. Be patient here, however, or you will only remind him of the slippery slope to which you've led him.

5. By playing on his feelings of frustration and isolation (remember those?), you can prompt him to discuss his own marital unhappiness. That's a clincher, because, at that point, he abandons his pastoral role in favor of mutual attraction. Then there is little he can do to stop the descent toward adultery.

6. The rest of the process — deception, guilt (which compounds like interest) and its accompanying anger, rationalization and sexually addictive intensification of the relationship — are virtually guaranteed. Enjoy the show.

Demonically yours,


Taken from The Pastor's Family Bulletin, Oct 1999.
Article copyright © 1999, Louis McBurney
All rights reserved. International copyright secured.
Used by permission.

Dr. Louis McBurney was the founder of Marble Retreat,
one of the first pastoral caregiving retreat centers in the country, founded in 1974.