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Hi and welcome back! I noticed this article in the New York Post and thought it dovetailed very well with the stuff we’ve been talking about lately. Recently, I showed you the story of Carl Lentz — a megachurch pastor with Hillsong who just lost his job amid revelations of adultery. Well, a few days ago a woman claiming to be his affair partner spoke up. The story of Carl Lentz’ pursuit of his mistress reminded me so much of other stories I’ve heard from adulterous evangelical men that I just had to bring it here. Today, let me show you the adulterous ‘drug’ that so many married evangelical men seek, and what their example shows us.

carl lentz and his adultery hijinks
(Joel Muniz.) Shout to the Lord, and you’re to blame: darlin’, you give love a bad name. 

Carl Lentz: Defined, All Right.

Ranin Karim is a fashion designer living in New York City. She describes her designs as an attempt to mesh together the “carnal world and the spiritual world.” As well, she wants her clothing and jewelry designs to reflect “the duality of being physically present but also maintaining a sense of spirituality.” (I think her designs look interesting and au courant. I’m sure she does okay selling this stuff.)

Recently, Karim told the New York Post that she met megachurch pastor Carl Lentz in May this year. Initially, he deceived her by telling her he was a sports agent and boasted of his friendships with celebrities. Dude wouldn’t even tell her his last name because he was scared she’d figure out who he was.

After their second meeting, she investigated the phone number he gave her — and the truth about his identity came out. Karim decided to continue seeing him anyway.

Part of me wonders if Lentz was feeling himself after his claimed bout with COVID-19. Back in March, he apparently became infected. At the time, he told his church:

The truth is that is what the Christian life comes down to. There are some good ‘mountain tops’ and things that do go well, but I think who we are as Christians is really defined in these [troubled] moments.

Indeed.

Carl Lentz and His ‘Drug.’

Very quickly after meeting, Ranin Karim told The Sun, Carl Lentz got very heavily involved with her. Karim claims that their connection was both intense and mutual. She said:

I wasn’t there for just sex, we both found comfort and a deep, special connection with each other. I am very hurt because we both feel the same way about each other.

He loves me and I love him. It was a love relationship that wasn’t planned. It wasn’t just a fling or just a sexual relationship.

She’s also said that she broke off their relationship many times — but the two kept missing each other and getting back together again. In fact, she insisted that “he was always the one who pursued me” after she’d initiated another breakup.

I’m not even half surprised to hear any of that.

And I don’t think Lentz was lying about how he felt about her, either.

Carl Lentz and His Big Secret.

While I read all this stuff, I thought about how, during his affair, Carl Lentz was busy swanning around on his church’s stage boasting about his “superpower” of an honest-to-goodness “relationship with God.” Dude definitely understood how to fake the walk and the talk, that’s for sure.

And most of his tribemates sure didn’t suspect a thing. Strangely, it’s always been incredibly easy for fundagelicals to fool each other like that. Gosh, y’all, Jesus doesn’t even provide a hint to the others that there’s a total faker in their midst.

Maybe their god is on a long journey, or sleeping, or blowing up the bathroom.

Gosh, y’all, it just doesn’t make sense, really.

The Truth Comes Out.

Unfortunately, Carl Lentz turned out to be a really inept cheater.

He used his church iPhone to text his new mistress. And his messages saved to the iCloud. And his wife, who was apparently with some other church leaders at the time, caught sight of all the messages and sexytimes photos these two lovebirds had been exchanging.

The Sun has revealed that rumors of infidelity had been swirling around Lentz for years, but this revelation was apparently a bridge too far. He got the boot. And then, cuz Hillsong’s super-classy like that, they also fired his wife.

All those celebrity pals seem to have vanished into the mist, too. Oh, and his actual mistress seems to have cut him off for good. She’s furious that he made their affair sound like some meaningless fling.

I wonder how this horndog will impress future mistresses now.

Caught Between Lies.

If I were an evangelical woman seeking an evangelical husband, this is the kind of story that would — and should — get my attention. Right-wing Christian men grow up with a life-roadmap that is just as broken and dysfunctional as the one handed to the tribe’s women.

Neither of ’em learn how to deal well with their emotions.

Instead, they get indoctrinated to rote obedience and parroted talking points. And since there’s no “Jesus” bailing them out, they tend to fall into really maladaptive behaviors very quickly when they get stressed.

So they get taught — and tend to believe fervently, even — that Jesus wants them to behave in thus-and-such ways. But then Reality comes along. She is a shrewd and mischievous little imp, and she can’t help but dip into delusional people’s lives to have some fun at their expense.

Right-wing Christians’ indoctrination can’t withstand Reality’s dazzling wiles. All their beliefs flutter away on the wind like ashes when her truth blows through their lives. Intense sexual attraction and dizzyingly strong crushes destroy all their chirped and muttered talking points. They never learn to deal well with any of that stuff.

That’s when the second part of their problem comes into focus.

Following Rules is for Dopes.

These Christians are authoritarians to the core, the lot of them. They already hate following their own rules. The longer they’re members of the tribe, the more tricks they learn to sneak around those rules.

They even learn to admire those who flout the tribe’s rules. Leaders, in particular, do so with near-impunity. Allowable and tolerated levels of hypocrisy rise with an individual Christian’s rank in the tribe — men, especially.

So when right-wing Christians get presented with something off-limits that they want, they certainly don’t deny themselves that pleasure. They simply sneak around to the side, take what they want, enjoy it, and then sneak back into the tribe’s goose-stepping line again like nothing happened. They’ll even offer their imaginary friend “Jesus” a mouthed sorry there, my dude as they get back in line.

The rest of the tribe, as mentioned, won’t even notice that someone’s snuck off and back again. Most of them are doing exactly the same thing in their own lives.

If someone notices and gets mad, hey, they can just apologize and appeal to their shared sin nature as an excuse. Maybe they’ll even offer a public show of repentance.

But every so often, the tribe gets really mad. And that’s what happened here. The tribe’s leader decided that he needed to make a messy object lesson of the culprit of the moment. 

Hypocrisy: A Feature, Not a Bug.

If anything about Christianity were true, I would expect to see very, very few hypocrites in the religion. I’d expect to see almost all Christians following their rules. Definitely, I’d expect Christians’ rules to work well in believers’ lives.

Even if I wasn’t sure if their actual god were real, I wouldn’t deny the evidence that all those Christians provided through their example.

But I see the opposite instead.

And that, too, speaks to the veracity of Christians’ claims about their religion and tribe. The sheer dysfunction of Christians’ lives tells us everything we need to know. We don’t need to hear endless apologetics arguments and miracle claims that look more like coincidence and stretched truths than anything else.

All we need to do is look at Christians themselves.

(That’s why so many evangelicals demand we NOT judge their religion by their example. They know how damning that’d be for their claims. Notice, however, that they don’t ever try too hard to reduce hypocrisy in the ranks. It’s easier for ’em to police their critics than it is to persuade the rest of tribe to follow their own rules for a change.)

Trust Reality, Not Fairy Tales.

Carl Lentz sought out his adulterous affair(s) even knowing that he was doing something terribly wrong and completely off-limits. No gods stopped him or tipped off his loved ones and co-workers.

When I look at his situation, I see one that happens thousands of times a day, probably, in his end of the religion. And I take the constant stream of hypocrisy coming out of Christians as a sign of their religion’s truth value.

Whatever Christians imagine that they have, it’s something I don’t want in my own life. I don’t want my relationships to look like theirs, ever. When I look at right-wing Christians’ marriage rules, all I see resulting from those rules is misery and terrible drama.

I’d rather deal with life’s problems by using solutions and coping strategies that actually work, thanks.

And I won’t find those in Christianity, any more than Carl Lentz did.

NEXT UP: Divorce-proofing the Good Ship Evangelical Marriage — or not. See you tomorrow!


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ROLL TO DISBELIEVE "Captain Cassidy" is Cassidy McGillicuddy, a Gen Xer and ex-Pentecostal. (The title is metaphorical.) She writes about the intersection of psychology, belief, popular culture, science,...