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Reporting the Truth.
Restoring the Church.

Aaron Ivey, Pastor and Husband of Podcaster Jamie Ivey, Accused of ‘Indecent’ Texts with Men

By Roxanne Stone
ivey
Aaron Ivey

The Austin Stone Church, a multicampus evangelical church in Austin, Texas, announced on Sunday that it had dismissed its head worship pastor after discovering he had engaged in “inappropriate and explicit ongoing text messages with an adult male,” according to a statement from the church’s elders.

Aaron Ivey, the pastor of worship and creativity and an elder at the megachurch, was fired last Monday for what the statement called a “disqualifying situation,” which the elders said they became aware of the previous day.

“Several elders were made aware of this situation on the evening of Sunday, February 4th and after reviewing the explicit nature of these messages, it was clear that termination of Aaron’s eldership and employment was necessary in accordance with the clear biblical standards outlined in 1 Timothy 3:1-7 and 1 Timothy 5:19-20,” according to the statement. The first passage, from the Apostle Paul’s Letter to Timothy, urges church leaders to be faithful in marriage; the second says church elders “who are sinning” should be reproved before everyone.

After firing Ivey, the elders said, they then discovered that Ivey, the husband of bestselling author and popular podcaster Jamie Ivey, had a history of texting with men, including one who had been underage at the time of the explicit texts, according to the statement.

“Since then, we have uncovered multiple similar instances with different individuals dating back to 2011 that show a very clear pattern of predatory manipulation, sexual exploitation, and abuse of influence,” the statement said.

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The elders detailed a timeline of texts they had discovered, alleging that they began in 2011 with the exchanges with a minor, which they said they had reported to the “appropriate authorities.”

“The first known instance, which took place with a teenage male victim and continued over time, involved inappropriate and explicit communications, indecent exposure, and the use of alcohol and illegal substances,” read the statement.

A spokesperson for the church, which has been affiliated with the Southern Baptist Convention, declined to offer additional comment on the allegations and Ivey’s termination.

The elder statement said MinistrySafe, which trains the church’s staff to prevent child abuse, has been alerted about the situation.

“As elders, we are heartbroken for the victims and their families. Knowing the Lord’s sheep are worth our protection and our love, we are committed to loving this body and rooting out evil. We know this may affect your trust because we know it certainly has rattled ours,” read the statement.

Jamie Ivey, host of the popular podcast “The Happy Hour,” appeared on “Good Morning America” on Friday to promote her new book, “Why Can’t I Get It Together?” Afterward, she posted on her Instagram that she was “off to China Town with my man for some epic Chinese food for lunch!” It’s unclear whether she knew at the time of her husband’s firing.

In 2021, the Iveys wrote “Complement,” a book and accompanying Bible study about marriage. The couple subscribed to a complementarian theology of marriage, which emphasizes male leadership, and spoke on it often. Aaron Ivey appeared on a 2019 panel hosted by the SBC’s Ethics & Religious Liberty Commission, titled “Faithful Husband, Strong Father: Embracing God’s Design for Manhood in Marriage,” that focused on the role of biblical manhood in marriage.

The couple, who have four children, including three adopted Black children, have also publicly talked about the challenges of living as a multiracial family in a majority white community and church.

Aaron Ivey did not respond to requests for comment.

Roxanne StoneRoxanne Stone is the managing editor for Religion News Service. 

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24 Responses

    1. Indeed it is. Besetting sins are so… besetting.

      A large church that I was previously associated with went through this with their senior pastor, who was found driving intoxicated with one of his minor children in the car.

  1. Thank you as always Julie, for your commitment to transparent reporting and support of abuse victims. As a former pastor’s wife whose ex-husband is serving 14 years, with one of his victims his (my) daughter, I appreciate you deeply.

    My one suggestion though would be to not tag the spouse of predators in social media posts for articles. From experience, it’s already a terrifying and horrific experience, without the social media onslaught.

    My four kids and I are very well today because our church and community handled our nightmare swiftly, justly, biblically with tremendous compassion and care for the victims and for me; which is the only way we survived. If ever interested in hearing from that perspective, please feel free to contact me. Thanks again…

    1. Hi Shelly,

      I’m so sorry about what happened to your daughter, and by extension, your whole family. That is so grievous.

      I agree that the spouse should not be tagged in social media posts and have communicated that with our team member who posted this article on social media. Thank you for reaching out and sharing your perspective.

    2. Shelly, I’m so glad you commented. It led me to read your piece on the ERLC website. Incredible read. Thank you for it.

      Julie, I am a long time reader of yours. And an appreciative listener to almost every single episode of your podcast. I would love to hear you interview Shelly. I know you probably have a lot of things to consider in your choices of what to cover. But I think it would be great contribution to your ongoing mission of healing and restoring the church.

  2. My best friend from church told me about this last night after a church Super Bowl party. I had heard of Jamie Ivey. Although, I didn’t know anything about her. I wish I could say that I am surprised by this news. But, I am not. I have been in the church long enough to know and have seen these type of scandals happen over and over.

    1. This is extremely heartbreaking, I hope they can recover and share a powerful testimony. But this issue with minors that’s tough to hear.

      1. “I hope they can recover and share a powerful testimony.”

        How? Is Mrs. Ivey someday going to podcast, “My husband used to be a perverse hypocrite who preached about traditional morality and gender roles while having abusive sexting relationships with other men … but he got better!”?

        1. Hey Cynthia, nothing is impossible for God. If you have been Christian for at least 5 years, hypocrisy is nothing new! There are plenty of examples in the Bible and in recent history that show that restoration is possible. We are not defined by our mistakes. This is very sad, shocking in many aspects but with God’s love, power and good community they can heal.

          1. What are examples from the Bible or recent history of a person who engages in abusive sexual relationships with other men being “restored”? And “restored” to what, exactly?

            Engaging in abusive sexual relationships, regardless of the sex of the other person/people, is not a “mistake.” Leaving your car’s headlights on and running down the battery is a “mistake.” Buying creamed corn when you meant to get whole corn is a “mistake.”

          2. Yes, we can all agree that God can, and sometimes does work miracles. And I hope this family gets that kind of miracle. But someone who instigated sexually inappropriate texting with a minor should never again be in a ministry position. There are lots of other ways he can serve the body of Christ. And lots of other ways he can make a living. But my guess is someone is going to come along and try to re-platform him in the next 6 to 12 months.

          3. Doing something wrong once is a mistake. Doing it repetetively, over and over for years is deliberate. A leader abusing their power in this manner is not qualified to be in leadership again because they are no longer “above reproach.” This is not a difficult concept. Such a person cannot be “restored” to ministry as a leader. They can be forgiven, if they truly repent, and they can still be part of the Christian community but they can never again be allowed to be in a leadership postion. The reason for that should be obvious.

      2. i was giving you the benefit of the doubt that your concern was for those exploited by Aaron Ivey, & their recovery. I see you’ve clarified that your concern was for the perpetrator instead.

        As predictable as it is that pastors will exploit & manipulate other human beings (sexually or otherwise), it is just as predictable that the reflex for some christians will be to focus on compassion & support for the perpetrator, and thus disappear those harmed.

        All part of the sordid, sad state of affairs of this religion.

        1. Tragically it is found in Christianity which contradicts everything that Jesus taught. Also tragically, this is found in all religions – even the atheistic religion.

  3. “After firing Ivey, the elders said, they then discovered that Ivey, the husband of bestselling author and popular podcaster Jamie Ivey, had a history of texting with men, including one who had been underage at the time of the explicit texts, according to the statement.”
    —————

    all of 8 days ago….

    an entire history of sexually abusive behavior with multiple people… all discovered 8 days ago.

    and we’re supposed to believe that not a single soul had even an inkling, except for these multiple people.

    my ‘methinks they doth protest too much’ radar is going off.

    1. Having worked in a Detention Facility for many years, I can assure you there are people very adept at deception. Some are capable of carrying out fraud and deceit for years. Part of their success comes from them believing their own lies. Their conscience has been seared. Sometimes it’s very difficult to catch them. Such people should never be trusted again once they are found out.

  4. Every church leader should read and copy this church’s elders response (referenced/linked in the article) to this horrible situation. Their communication and their actions are a textbook example of how a healthy ldrship team does it right. Such a striking contrast to the poorly executed and wrongheaded approaches of other high profile ministries in recent days.

    1. Yes, I agree with your comment.

      It is easy to fall into cynicism but we must respond with affirmation when we see leaders and institutions respond with quick accountability.

      At least as it seems right now, these elders and this church have responded well.

  5. If someone is predatory, and not right in their mind, heart or spirit, sometimes people intentionally adopt children so they can be predators to them. I’m not accusing. Authorities should interview the children. Don’t get mad at me. The people he preyed on were and are someone’s children. If you lead a double life, where does that double life end?

  6. Hi Julie, I was surprised as I read this article that it was not just “men” Aaron Ivey had shown a pattern of predatory behavior towards, but also a child. The title of your article minimizes the abuse of an adult towards a child by only mentioning his predatory behavior towards men. I don’t think you mean to lump them all together, but that is the impression given by the wording of the title. Thanks for your attention.

  7. The Evangelicals worshipping Trump and now this.
    Jesus must cry every night witnessing the extreme hypocrisy of so called Evangelical Christians blaspheming his name and killing his flock. Many people are harmed and misled everyday by these evil doers. Eternal damnation for knowingly leading his flock in the wrong direction is a very high price to pay and is biblically grounded.

  8. The law isn’t preached anymore. It’s true that the law doesn’t save anyone, but it certainly leads us to seek salvation. There’s great condemnation because of the law’s righteous requirements, but there’s no fear of God in the country. Sadly, there’s hardly any in the church. Men who seek to fulfill every desire (no matter how perverse) act as though there’s no judgment. Why should they? We’ve removed judgement from consideration. Grace is real, and it’s magnificent! Judgement is also real. It’s why grace shines so bright.

    1. So what’s new?

      There was no fear of God in ancient Israel; hence we have the Prophets’ writings.

      A tale as old as time…. sadly.

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