Copyright © 2010 by James Leonard Park
by James Park,
existential philosopher and reader of sexology.
Red comments represent the opinions and evaluations of this reviewer.
These books are organized by quality, beginning with the best.
1. Marie M. Fortune
Is Nothing Sacred?
When Sex Invades the Pastoral Relationship
(New York: Harper & Row, 1989) 167 pages
of one church where the minister
had sexual relationships with several members.
It is told from the perspective of the women (ages 20-60)
who were victimized by the seducer.
The book was put together by a woman called in
as a consultant by denominational officials.
was a charismatic, 'spiritual' person,
who had a series of secret affairs with perhaps a dozen women
in his church over a period of 4 years.
He easily manipulated the women into bed with him
because they were under his spell as their minister.
One became involved with him because she was very active
on church committees and in youth work.
One was seduced when in a vulnerable state
because of the death of her husband.
She was told that sex with her minister
would be part of the healing-recovery process.
One was an employee of the church.
And one was a married female minister of the same denomination.
Physical comforting of women in distress
often turned into a sexual encounter.
And he talked some of the younger women
into having sex with him by promising to marry them.
All of his victims blamed themselves in some degree
for allowing themselves to be seduced.
This self-blame kept the problem hidden for years.
A conspiracy of silence (with only vague rumors circulating)
reigned among all the women he had seduced or abused.
But an informal women's grapevine developed
to warn other women who might become his victims:
This minister is a romantic/sexual predator; watch out for him.
Finally one woman called a meeting of all the victims she knew about.
It took 4
to remove this offender from his parish.
But those who read this book will not be as likely to deny
that it could happen or to delay taking action.
Is Nothing Sacred? is a good place to begin
reading about the problem of sex between ministers and parishioners.
2. Peter Rutter,
Sex in the Forbidden Zone:
When Men in Power—Therapists, Doctors, Clergy,
Teachers, and Others—Betray Women's Trust
(Los Angeles: Jeremy P. Tarcher, 1989) 240 pages
This book is
a comprehensive, compassionate,
and thoughtful treatment of an emerging problem of our time:
sex between men in positions of authority
and their clients, patients, parishioners, or students.
Peter Rutter is a psychotherapist;
many of his examples describe
the violation of the theapist-client relationship.
But the "forbidden zone" includes all situations of professional trust.
Women enter these professional relationships
with the hope of some healing or personal growth.
But after they have opened themselves trustingly to these men
who are supposed to help them,
they sometimes find that they are drawn into sexual relationships
that seem mainly for the benefit
and healing of the clergyman or therapist.
women are also seductive,
but it is the professional's responsibility to maintain
the sexual boundary between himself or herself
and the clients seeking help.
Rutter says that this professional taboo against sex with clients
should be as strong and as lasting as the incest taboo
between a father and his daughter.
Even as they grow older, moving away from the original relationship,
it is never appropriate for a father to have sex with his daughter.
religious leaders and therapists is especially easy
when a psychologically-vulnerable woman confuses
her emerging passion for life with her passion for sex.
The helper or healer must not take advantage
of the woman's mixed feelings, focusing them on himself
because that serves some psychological need of his own.
example involves a 5-year sexual relationship
between a seminary dean (male, married, with 5 children)
and a female student (who was 21 when the sexual relationship began).
Instead of the religious vocation she had sought,
she found herself in a sexual vocation,
as servant of the man she most admired.
She was able to break it off only when she found out
that he was having sex with other women as well.
responsibility for guarding the sexual boundary
rests with the professional man or woman,
the client can also help to reinforce this taboo.
It is always better to talk too much
about the sexual boundary than too little.
When people do not discuss the romantic/sexual limits
of their professional relationship,
it is too easy to let their unexamined romantic programming
and imprinted sexual fantasies to take over.
One therapist just wordlessly undressed his client on the first visit
and had sex with her on the office floor.
She never returned so we know nothing
about the long-term damage this probably did her.
The most direct and dramatic action a client can take
when the professional becomes seductive is to stand up and leave.
Many victimized women interviewed for this book
see in retrospect that they should have left.
It would have been painful and difficult
to cut off an emotionally-charged relationship that suddenly,
but it would have been much less painful than the long struggle
with the harmful sexual relationship that followed.
have written ethical rules and guidelines
prohibiting sex between a professional and a client.
(In Minnesota it is now a felony for a therapist to have sex with a client.)
But religious groups often do not have anything in writing
because ministers have been assumed to be
among the most moral members of society.
However, increasing disclosures of clergy violating the "forbidden zone"
show the need for religious organizations to make the rules explicit
—and to impose appropirate sanctions when the rules are violated.
much useful technical information
about filing complaints (ethical, administrative, civil, & criminal)
against professionals in positions of authority
who use their power to seduce the people who come to them for help.
extensive advice for professionals
who are tempted to have romantic and/or sexual relationships
with the clients or parishioners who come under their care.
Even if the professional begins to dream of a possible future relationship,
he or she ought to refer the client to someone else,
because such fantasies can corrupt the professional relationship
so that no productive work can be accomplished.
And certainly if a sexual relationship has alrady begun, it must stop.
Both parties might seek treatment for this violation.
The professional should explain to the client that he has failed her,
not the other way around.
Once a relationship has entered the forbidden zone,
it is unlikely that it will ever become a sex-free relationship again.
The two parties need to acknowledge this mistake
and go their separate ways.
Both might need to explore more deeply
their own romantic inclinations and sexual responses.
A new therapist or helper of the same sex as the client
might be more appropriate,
since (as long as both are heterosexual)
that can help prevent the same problem from happening all over again.
in the Forbidden Zone also gives examples of people
who have successfully resisted the sexual temptation
and gone on to have very productive
non-sexual helping or mentor relationships.
book highly for both professionals and their clients.
It will be helpful to both sides of the forbidden zone.
I wrote 68 pages of notes and resposes.
3. Anson Shupe,
Stacy, & Susan E. Darnell, editors
Bad Pastors: Clergy Misconduct in Modern America
(New York: New York University
2000) 256 pages
(ISBN: 0-8147-8146-2; hardcover)
(ISBN: 0-8147-8147-0; paperback)
(Library of Congress call number: BV4811.5.B33 2000)
of articles on various forms of clergy misbehavior
—both mainstream clergy and cult leaders.
The problems of sexual and financial violations-of-trust continue.
This book updates and expands the information already available.
Almost all of the 12 authors are academics.
Thus they have gathered their information from printed sources
rather than from first-hand experience.
the first two books in this bibliography first.
Then, if you still have the time and interest,
read this book to be brought up to date.
created 2001; revised 4-24-2009;
books to include in this bibliography.
Write to James Park: e-mail: PARKx032@TC.UMN.EDU
This bibliography is
to several others in sexology.
Here is the complete list:
Variations of Sex and Gender B-V-SG
I. Intersex B-CRIT
II. Transsexualism B-TS
Transsexual Autobiographies B-TS-AB
III. Sex-Roles B-ROLE
IV. Gender-Personality B-GEND
V. Sexual Orientation B-ORNT
VI. Cross-Dressing B-TV
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