Living outside of the U.S. really makes it easier to avoid the daily tabloid news feeds there, which I generally consider to be a great blessing. But, lately I have seen several articles cross my Facebook feed regarding the Josh Duggar and Ashley Madison scandals, particularly regarding these as the most recent “black eyes” to be discovered on the Church, as so many involved have such strong ties to the Christian community.
In the articles and comments I have seen, I have noticed what appear to me to be flaws in some of the fundamental thinking, which I feel inclined to address.
First, sex is not dirty. We in the Church should be the clearest on this point. Sex is a gift from our Father, designed to consecrate the union of two people committing to live their lives with one another, and to procreate new life. (The legally recognized marriage contract is something the world founded. Real marriage recognized in the sight of God begins when 2 people have sex for the first time, and in its original design is absolutely beautiful.)
The world has twisted and corrupted sex so that it has taken a form of something entirely opposite of what it truly is:
-The world tells us that sex is a commodity, i.e. Something that is to be sold, traded, or stolen. In reality, sex is no less than an amazing gift.
-The world tells us that sex is shameful and dirty. In reality, sex is a beautiful act of ultimate trust, commitment, and unconditional love.
-The world tells us that sex is only good if engaged with multiple persons. In reality, sex by design is an act that gets better as trust and emotional intimacy between two people strengthens over the course of a lifetime committed to one another, learning to love one another selflessly.
-The world tells us that sex is an expression of dominance or power. In reality, sex at various times throughout a lifetime shared with another person may be an expression of passion, or joy, or healing, or comfort, but always love.
But the core of all of these lies really stems from the greatest deception, which is that we just don’t have any clue how loved we really are.
And I am not just talking about all those sinners “out there”. I am talking about Christian leaders, pastors, teachers – all striving to show God’s love to the world, while operating under the lie that they themselves are absolutely unlovable, even for God.
These men and women become consumed with the brokenness of hurting people all around them, which they can’t fix. Many of these Christian leaders have been placed on pedestals (which we put them on), and are constantly on display, facing peoples’ expectations of perfection, which they can not meet. These people become desperate for some sort of escape, to be able to let go, to have just one moment when they feel in control of their own lives, and accepted just as they are.
Many of these people have no one in their lives with whom they feel they can be honest with their own brokenness, their own struggles. They can’t turn to their friends, or often even to their family. Sadly, for most of these folks their own church family is the very last place they feel they can be honest.
So they turn to the places where they feel they can find that moment of escape, in places where they won’t be judged. Maybe to the bar, maybe to online porn, maybe to the extra-marital affair, or maybe worse.
Maybe we don’t all have affairs, or buy porn online. But, I truly believe that if we are being honest, there is not a single one of us who doesn’t understand how these people feel.
Our pastors and church leaders are not God. They are coming from broken homes, and failed relationships. They have experienced rejection and humiliation. They are bombarded with the same billboards, commercials and movies that tempt all of us.
They, like many of us, are functioning on a basis of lies, convinced they are only as valuable as the world tells them they are. Believing they are only as lovable as the size of their bank accounts, the magnitude of their ministries.
In reality, we are not defined by our accomplishments, or our failures, or our disappointments, or our rejections. We are not our addictions, or our affairs, or mistakes. We are much, much more than that.
Each of us is a son or daughter of the Father, absolutely precious in His eyes. He loved us so much that He came Himself to pay the price for our freedom, so that we could walk free of the deception that plagues us, so that we could know the truth. So that we could know His love.
Let us in the Church no longer be conformed to the world, condemning and shaming those who we see have “failed”. Let us be known by our love for one another. Let us die to ourselves, and to our own judgments and ideas of justice. Let’s remember the “justice” God has shown us, otherwise known as grace – undeserved mercy, forgiveness, and compassion.
Let’s ask God to transform us, to renew our minds so that we will be free to know and to walk in the truth. Let us ask Him to set us free from condemnation, and fear, and death. Let us ask Him to give us His heart, His justice, His freedom, and His kingdom.
For some more good insight for those who may be struggling with these issues, I recommend the books Every Man’s Struggle (Stephen Arterburn, Fred Stoeker) and Every Woman’s Battle (Shannon Ethridge).