I explained in the post Celebrity Preacher Clayton Jennings: Sex, Alcohol and the Morning After Pill, that rising evangelical star, Clayton Jennings, reached out to a young woman (and a follower of his ministry), having seen her photos in social media that appealed to him, and within just a few weeks had convinced her that the Holy Spirit wanted them together. He promised her that she would soon be announced as his fiance’ to his ministry and meet his family. When they met in person, he seduced her promises of marriage, gave the young woman alcohol, and had sex with her. Then, he sent her away and had her take the Morning After Pill, and abruptly ended the relationship. Again, you can read some of those details here.
How did we know this took place? The young woman reached out to Pulpit & Pen, after seeing a post we did about the frenzied female following of Jennings last year entitled Capturing Weak Women. Then, she gave us their full digital communication and several pieces of legally-recorded and legally-obtained audio of several conversations – including one that involved Jennings’ father, which provided his admissions. We also spoke to Jennings’ father, who acknowledged various sins of the nature alleged. Sadly, no one wanted to address the issue of an up and coming evangelical star, and no one was listening to the victim of spiritual abuse.
After several thousand shares, Jennings’ had surrogates reach out to us to try to shame us, claiming that he had “already admitted and confessed this.” Of course, we have the audio of that admission, and it was more cover-up, in our opinion, than contrite confession. Several asked us what we could do to make our posts come down. We told them (to paraphrase) that Jennings needs to give account of his deeds and confess his sins to the fans he leads. This was his attempt.
Let me address some of the problems, here.
“I’ve always tried to be open and honest with you.”
Literally, that is not the case. While I can’t substantiate what he has “tried,” let it be on record that Jennings has not been open and honest about using his spiritual leadership status to tell a young woman that God wanted them to be together, to give her alcohol (she is a non-drinker), commit fornication, tell her to take the Morning After Pill, and ditch her.
Jennings then goes on to say that he “opened up” about his “struggles” and “past sins” in a spoken word poem called “Confessions.” He claimed this was “transparency.” Working in veiled references to vague “struggles” and “past sins” into a rap video is not confession.
Furthermore, as the victim rightly pointed out to me, his being “open and honest” includes deleting our post from his FB page and closing the ability to comment on his posts except by his closest friends.
I opened up in sermons and my new poetry cd about my battles with lust and sex before marriage.
Literally every single man on the planet (and most married men) struggle with lust. This is a confession, specifically, to absolutely nothing. Likewise, the term “before marriage” could be clarified as “also after I produced this video” and “while I was preaching to young people across the country” and “in between sermons.” This wasn’t something that occurred when he was a teenager or prior coming to faith or even prior to becoming a star evangelist. This is something that occurred only months before his marriage and only last year.
“Before I opened up to my followers about these things, I had repented of them and went to my leadership and family for counseling and help.”
His “leadership,” of course, is his family (his father) and we have that on audio. Part of this story, that I hope will be addressed by those who specialize in spiritual abuse, is revealed on audio regarding how his father (I believe any fair observer would agree) swept this matter under the rug. And again, this was after the videos in which he nebulously spoke of his lust issues, What Will You Do and 50 Shades of Grace.
Jennings then compares himself to the Apostle Paul, and invokes his mission in life to tell people about Jesus. Noble, indeed.
Move forward and allow your brokenness to bring him glory.
Here, Jennings digs in to support his ministry and says to “move forward.” I have spoken many times to his victim, who remains in tears, continues therapy, and is spiritually traumatized. Tell her to move forward, Jennings. Furthermore, committing fornication after lowering one’s inhibitions with alcohol and trying to murder the evidence of that affair with a pharmaceutical drug does not bring glory to God. What would bring glory to God is genuine confession and repentance, and churches that value honesty and integrity rather than celebrity.
When I read the Bible, I see countless flawed characters full of sin who were used to point others to Jesus.
Again, Jennings compares himself to the Saints of Holy Writ. Try to find one of those “countless flawed characters” who went about serving as Apostles, prophets, pastors or evangelists who were unrepentant in their sin, lacking contrition and true confession, and committing spiritual abuse, fornication, and attempted homicide all the while doing God’s true work. People behaving like Jennings in the New Testament were not made preachers; they were cast out from the church as unbelivers (per 1 Corinthians 5).
Although his admission of “imperfection” (way to go, Jennings, that was bold of you) is a response to being exposed by this polemics ministry, he doesn’t confess to fornication during his ministry, he doesn’t confess to spiritual abuse, he doesn’t confess to the many lies he told in the process, he doesn’t confess the Morning After pill, he doesn’t confess using alcoholic substances to lower inhibitions and he doesn’t confess to traumatizing this young woman and he doesn’t confess (ostensibly) planning to do these things preemptively.
It is helpful to provide a Frequently Asked Questions Guide for followers of Jennings who want to know more, for the sake of clarity:
How did his relationship with this young woman begin? Did she seek him out?
Jennings contacted her through his ministry and said that he would be in her area, and asked for her number, ostensibly for ministry purposes. She did not message or contact him; he contacted her. Sadly, in videos that Jennings has done of dramatic interpretations of struggling and running from lust, women in those videos are very clearly the promiscuous aggressor, painted as prostitutes or seductresses. We’re afraid this is the lens through which people see this story. This is a young woman with one serious boyfriend in her entire life, a “Christian girl” dedicated to her craft, who was not the aggressor in this situation; the aggressor was Jennings.
When did this occur?
This occurred in in 2015, with events summarized in our posts spanning from mid 2015 until just weeks prior to Jennings’ wedding. When I spoke to Clayton around this time (after our Capturing Weak Women post), he told me that he had a “secret fiance’.” It struck me as odd. Now I get it.
Did he at any time confess this sin to his fans?
No. This is why everyone is shocked. This is not “old news.” As written above, Clayton “confessed” in a poem to “struggles with lust” and so forth before this happened. While Jennings said he “opened up” about such things in his video, Confessions, that video is only about depression, not sexual fornication. Likewise, two videos in which Jennings does mention lust, “What Will You Do” and “50 Shades of Grace,” happened – again – before the events with this young lady. Furthermore, who on Earth could know that what he meant in the video would be fleshed out in such atrocious details, or that he was currently engaging (or soon would) in such sins? Furthermore, we have no evidence that Jennings confessed his sins to his church or anyone besides his mother and father. Again, in our opinion, we believe that his family “swept this under the rug.” We do know this much; no statement was given through the ministry and we cannot ascertain that he was even placed into the most meager of “time outs” for engaging in this grievous sin.
Is Jennings repentant?
That’s a subjective matter, but let’s look at all the evidence as it has presented itself.
- His admission above was only after he was exposed.
- His admission above is only put in the most vague and nebulous words possible, is devoid of empathy or compassion for his victim, is missing the important facets of his sins (which includes spiritual abuse, manipulation, and the morning after pill), and spends far more words advocating for the continuance of his “ministry” than in contrite, actual confession.
- After his admissions in the meeting with his victim and father, he then asked the victim (in the parking lot of the church) to continue the relationship secretly because he wasn’t sure it was going to work out with his fiance’ and also went on to ask her for a “friends with benefits” relationship.
- His father, whom he calls his “accountability” spoke to us in concern that we would expose Jennings, who he claimed was repentant, but demonstrated no concern for the victim.
- In every way, his sin was planned and premeditated. This wasn’t a sin he “fell into.”
Was this an affair?
When someone uses their spiritual authority to commit fornication with a spiritual follower, they do not have an “affair,” they commit spiritual abuse. Jennings was nearly eight years her senior. Jennings found her, followed her, and in a short time, was calling her his wife and telling her that God says she’s the one. Then he gave her alcohol, slept with her, told her to take the Morning After Pill and (like any good gentleman) said he would pay for it. Then, he cut off communication. When confronted by the victim, he told many demonstrable, verifiable lies to give him sympathy. Then, it was demanded of her to forgive him. This was not an affair. This was spiritual abuse.
Is there only one?
No. I have spoken to other victims (and the family of other victims) who have testified to me of Jennings using the same technique to lead their daughters to sin. I pray that they will come forward in coming days. I have been able to get victims together, who are now speaking to each other, and that is extraordinarily good.
[Contributed by JD Hall]
[Editor’s Note: For more articles on this topic: