Dark Light

A Pastor Confessed to Adultery From the Pulpit. Then the Woman Told Her Side of the Story.

Over the weekend in Warsaw, Indiana, a tragic, harrowing scene unfolded from the stage during New Life Christian Church’s Sunday morning service. It started when Pastor John Lowe confessed to a 20-year-old sin, which he characterized as “adultery.” He said he had sought forgiveness from his family, but needed to tell the church as well and announced he would be stepping down. The church greeted his news with encouraging applause.

But then, a young woman took to the stage with her husband to tell her side of the story. She said she had been 16 years old when Lowe took her virginity. “I was a prisoner and you kept me in your prison,” she says. “You did things to my teenage body that had never and should never have been done.”

After confronting several members of the congregation and pleading for the full truth to come out, the woman and her husband left the stage, leaving behind the “covenant purity ring which she wore while this man had sex with her.”

A few members of the congregation pressed Lowe, who then admitted that she had indeed been 16. Then, another shock: The congregation rose up and encircled the pastor in prayer in a giant group embrace.

It is not clear where the woman was, but there was no group prayer circle for her.

A congregant named Maisey Cook captured the entire encounter and posted it to Facebook. It is posted below, but please be advised that it is excruciating viewing. OrangeBean has posted a transcription, which we have included below.

It starts around the 1:30 mark, when Lowe delivers his remarks, confessing to what he called “adultery.”

I committed adultery. It was nearly 20 years ago. It continued far too long. It involved one person, and there’s been no other, nor any other situation of unbecoming conduct for the last 20 years.

I will not use the Bible to defend, protect, and deflect my past sin. I have no defense—I committed the adultery. To say it plainly, I didn’t make a mistake, I didn’t have an issue, I didn’t have an affair, I didn’t make a misjudgment. I sinned. I need to say that and you deserve to hear it.

I have been asked why did I wait so long to deal with it? Why hide it all these years? The answer? There is no good answer. I told myself for years silence served to protect everyone: the other person, those closest to her, from the hurt and from the public embarrassment, and I’d like to think that was true. But the truth is that silence was to protect myself as well.

While applying church discipline for sexual failure, for repentance, confession, and restoration, I myself had not been disciplined for sexual misconduct. I will not use the Bible to defend myself or to beat you into Scriptural submission. 20 years ago, I repented. Now, the day for this fresh hurt, I ask you to forgive me for the deep wound I have caused.

I make no excuse for my sin. The betrayal of dear friendship, trust, and love is beyond my ability to express. The church is engaged in a healthy, biblical process to restore your trust to the ministry here at New Life. Meanwhile, I hope you believe God called you here… Perhaps for such a time as this.

To believe. To forgive. To heal. So that God can reveal His goodness in you. For the next few weeks, while this church is in this biblical process, please be in a lot of prayer. Stay faithful in Jesus.

To my wife and family who I have deeply hurt, I have confessed my sin. They have gracefully forgiven me and expressed their love to me, which also is deeply humbling.

To those that I sinned against, many years ago and recently, by keeping this in the dark, and to those of you who are wounded from this fresh hurt. To you, the church, I repent for the adultery and my silence. Please forgive me.

In accordance with our church by-laws, I’m stepping aside, stepping down, from ministry responsibilities and have committed to the Lord and now to you, that I will submit to the process and recommendations of this board.

The congregation’s applause is understandable, given that this seems to be a moment of rare transparency for a pastor in this position. Admitting to sin, asking forgiveness and stepping away from ministry is an appropriate response to a moral failing of the magnitude he describes. Had the story ended here, it still would have been very tragic, but it also would have been an indication that healing was on the horizon.

But then the woman takes to the stage with her husband, who says “if you love us, please let us talk.” About the 6:40 mark of the video, she tells what she experienced, adding the traumatic details Lowe had left out.

For 27 years, I lived in a prison. It was not 20 years.

I lived in a prison of lies and shame. Lying to protect the Lowe family for years. I thought I was a horrible person, having suicidal thoughts, not realizing what had been truly done to me: that I was a victim.

And I would still be in a prison if my brother — and many of you know him — had not approached me just two weeks ago with what he had seen as a teenager that bothered him all these years: His pastor, in bed, with his younger sister with a t-shirt and underwear on.

People knew but they were too afraid to come forward. And they have now. The lies and the manipulation have to stop.

I was a prisoner and you kept me in your prison. I am a prisoner no longer. I was just 16 when you took my virginity on your office floor. Do you remember that? I know you do and I have plenty of other stories that I could bring to your remembrance.

You did things to my teenage body that had never and should never have been done. If you can’t admit the truth, you have to answer to God. You are not the victim here.

I tried to tell someone but all that was done was cover-up. No one ever came to to me. No one ever helped me. No one ever got me counseling. I have wanted to talk to somebody all of these years and never… You have! You have somebody that you’ve talked to. I never have.

The church deserves to know the truth: This church has been built on lies. But no more.

The lies need to stop. I could give story after story after story to what you did to me.

Here, a man in the congregation attempts to interrupt her and she confronts him from the pulpit, saying, “Michael, your dad is not the victim here. A partial truth is not true.”

“She was telling the truth,” the woman’s husband says. “Don’t you dare call her a liar.”

See Also

The woman goes on:

… If I would have gotten counseling, your dad would be in prison. It might not be the way that every time you covered up [unclear] my best friend was my age when your associate pastor was molesting his two daughters. And you know that! You sent him to be a pastor at another church. We can call [the two girls] right now. They sat down with you. You sent [her] away. Don’t look at me like that. You know the truth…

The woman appears briefly overcome with emotion, and her husband takes the microphone. “Listen,” he tells the church. “My wife—this is not just adultery. It’s another level when it’s a teenager. And I will not let this man talk about my wife like that. It happened for nine years. When she was 15, 16, the sexual grooming started. And it lasted until she met me and we started dating. This is the truth. And that’s all we’re going to say.”

“We’re working through love and forgiveness,” he says. “We’re working through it. But people have to be held accountable and they can’t just bamboozle people and say ‘Well, I just committed adultery.’ It was far beyond adultery.”

He then produces what he refers to a “ministry gift” — his wife’s purity ring — “which she wore while this man had sex with her.”

“I don’t want it in my home,” he says, throwing it on the podium. “We’re done.”

The couple walks out, and two members of the congregation console the woman as she heads for the exits. Meanwhile, the congregation starts pressing Lowe, with shouts of “if you did it, you need to admit it” coming from the crowd. “We need to hear from our pastor,” another shouts angrily.

“I told you I committed adultery. I told you it went on far too long,” Lowe protests before finally saying breaking. “She was 16 years old, OK? And it was wrong. I can’t make it right. I can’t make it any better.”

There is more back and forth from the crowd that is unintelligible. “I can’t do anything about that except tell you that if I could go back and re-do it all, I would. I can’t. And all I can do is ask you to forgive me. I’m doing what the biblical process for the Church is in stepping down and stepping aside.”

“It’s been 20 years,” he says. “I guess that doesn’t count for anything. We love them. I deeply hurt them. I deeply hurt you. I ask you to forgive me, and that’s all I can do.”

And then, as another man begins to close the service in prayer, a group of men and women come forward and embrace Lowe in a prayer circle.

As the Facebook video gained traction, local news reported that “the Kosciusko County Prosecutor’s Office confirmed to WANE 15 on Monday that there is a pending investigation into the matter.” The age of consent in Indiana is 16.

The church has since released a statement, saying Lowe’s “long held secret” came to light when the woman began telling her story, prompting church leadership to confront the pastor. They say that when confronted, Lowe “confessed privately” and confirmed the details of the woman’s story. The statement continued to describe Lowe’s actions as an “affair.”

“We are hurting and broken for a woman attended and served in the church for many years,” the statement said. “It is our deepest prayer and commitment to love, support, encourage and help through a process of healing in any way in which we are able.”

The statement confirmed that Lowe has resigned.

© 2022 RELEVANT Media Group, Inc. All Rights Reserved.

Scroll To Top