[Note: This article is an adaptation from Chapter Five of the book, Charismatic Captivation.]
It is absolutely vital for every minister to understand that the context and sphere of his shepherding is limited primarily to the spiritual. While Fivefold ministers may occasionally be able to proffer some inspired or experiential counsel and advice even regarding natural matters, their foremost calling and enablement is to feed, care for, lead, and guide the sheep of God’s Flock spiritually and in relation to spiritual matters, not so much natural affairs.
We (ministers) are charged by God with the responsibility to feed His sheep spiritual food, to care for them with the spiritual wherewithal of the Holy Spirit, to lead them unto the one and only true Rock of their Salvation and Provider, Jesus, and after the pattern given us by the Chief Shepherd (1 Pet. 5:4; Ps. 23) we are to guide them "in the paths of righteousness," which is, the Way, Truth, and Life of Jesus.
When a minister routinely goes beyond the God set, albeit, invisible, boundaries of his calling and purview of authority, which is the limitation of the spiritual realm primarily, and habitually interlopes into the natural, physical realm, interposing his own will in the ordinary private matters of his followers’ lives, he is engaging in unsanctioned usurpation and illegitimate authority. In the process, he also leaves behind his legitimate duties, responsibilities, and sanctioning from God as an under shepherd, as well as his effectuality.
To take it a step further, a minister who engages in this sort of imposition and usurpation has essentially taken on the role, totally illegitimately, of the husband/father/head of those households and families over which he has imposed his authority; for, as the Scripture delineating true "spiritual covering" (1 Cor. 11:3-16) indicates, the role of headship (i.e., government or leadership) of a household or family in the natural, has been assigned by God to the husband/father of that house.
Another term for this illegitimate interloping and usurpation into another man’s domain of authority is—spiritual adultery.
Now to some this attribution will seem to be overkill and a bit melodramatic. Yet, in light of Scripture, it is neither. This is precisely what leaders who engage in these practices are engaging in—spiritual adultery. Allow me to explain.
God said the head of every woman is her husband, and every woman, at least every Born Again woman, has a husband, even those who are widowed, divorced, or never‑married. Born Again women who for whatever reason do not have a human husband with whom they are living, are joined to and one with the Ultimate Husband, Jesus Himself (1 Cor. 6:17), the effectuality and efficacy of which fact is determined by the degree of each unmarried woman’s acceptance of and faith in that fact.
When a person other than the legitimate husband/head of a house invades the sanctity of that household by illegitimately interposing his own will and authority upon the woman of that house, that constitutes spiritual adultery. No person, man or woman, including ministers, is authorized to intrude into a household in this fashion.
It is with regard to this very sort of illegitimate authoritarian "home‑invasion" that one particular New Testament passage alludes and admonishes with especial attribution to the "last days" in which we are now living:
But realize this, that in the last days there will set in perilous times of great stress and trouble—hard to deal with and hard to bear. For people will be lovers of self and [utterly] self‑centered, lovers of money and aroused by an inordinate (greedy) desire for wealth, proud and arrogant and contemptuous boasters. They will be abusive (blasphemous, scoffers), disobedient to parents, ungrateful, unholy and profane. [They will be] treacherous (betrayers), rash [and] inflated with self‑conceit. [They will be] lovers of sensual pleasures and vain amusements more than and rather than lovers of God. For [although] they hold a form of piety (true religion), they deny and reject and are strangers to the power of it—their conduct belies the genuineness of their profession. AVOID [ALL] SUCH PEOPLE— TURN AWAY FROM THEM. FOR AMONG THEM ARE THOSE WHO WORM THEIR WAY INTO HOMES AND CAPTIVATE SILLY AND WEAK‑NATURED AND SPIRITUALLY DWARFED WOMEN, LOADED DOWN WITH [THE BURDEN OF THEIR] SINS, [AND EASILY] SWAYED AND LED AWAY BY VARIOUS EVIL DESIRES AND SEDUCTIVE IMPULSES. [These weak women will listen to anybody who will teach them]; they are forever inquiring and getting information, but are never able to arrive at a recognition and knowledge of the Truth. Now just as Jannes and Jambres were hostile to and resisted Moses, so THESE MEN ALSO ARE HOSTILE TO AND OPPOSE THE TRUTH. THEY HAVE DEPRAVED AND DISTORTED MINDS, AND ARE REPROBATE AND COUNTERFEIT AND TO BE REJECTED AS FAR AS THE FAITH IS CONCERNED....BUT THEY WILL NOT GET VERY FAR, FOR THEIR RASH FOLLY WILL BECOME OBVIOUS TO EVERYBODY, as was that of those [magicians mentioned]. (2 Tim. 3:1‑9, A.B.)
I have alluded already to the fact that these false concepts of "spiritual covering" mixed with the "absolute submission" concept makes for an extremely poisonous and potentially lethal rue, which almost invariable eventuates into various forms of authoritarian abuse that frequently entails some kind of illicit sexual exploitation. This, of course, by Bible‑definition, is physical fornication and sexual adultery, which obviously is utterly sinful and damning, not to mention the horrendous natural and spiritual consequences such abominable abuse and exploitation engender.
Nevertheless, though it may be hard to imagine, the fact is that in these situations where leaders illegitimately interlope into the private affairs of their followers, usurping the role of the husband, even in those cases in which no physical fornication and sexual adultery have yet occurred, the "spiritual adultery" that has been committed is even more heinous and abominable and will produce even graver consequences, both spiritually and in the natural.
The reason spiritual adultery of this nature is such a grievous offense to God is that it is His authority, albeit, intermediated in the case of the married woman by a human husband, that is being usurped.
The true spiritual Husband is Christ, and it is His betrothed that is being assailed when one of His sheep is abused and exploited. Thus, spiritual adultery carries with it an even greater judgment than sexual adultery for the unrepentant offender.
Abhorrent as it is, that these Discipleship/Shepherding doctrines and practices constitute spiritual adultery, there is yet another offense they abet that in terms of gravity may even surpass spiritual adultery. In addition to spiritual adultery, adherents and practitioners of this false theosophy are also fostering and participating in "spiritual idolatry" as well.
To read an explanation of the spiritual idolatry aspect, click here.