It’s another day and another Christian public figure is embroiled in scandal. Lately it has been sexual scandals with more conservative Christian men scandalizing us. Which makes it even worse since these men are often most vocal about family values. Yet, being vocal about family values doesn’t entail that people endow their families with value. I’ve been around people who are vocal about family values but are complete jerks to their families and others. Two-faced: one way in public and another way at home. I don’t want to hear anymore talk about family values unless a person is valuing his or her family. We value our families by loving them in secret and in public. Talk is cheap. Unbelievers too have long been weary of our empty talk.
Also, these seemingly endless scandals whether very public or less public prove the point my gay friends have been making for years: our own heterosexual marriages and lives are messed up. Why then is the LGBTQ community the target of our ire? Again, talk is cheap.
I think what we need to do is talk less. We need to talk less about our politics and opinions and ask God to transform us into loving people. Maybe then others will listen.
First and foremost we need to learn what it means to be deeply loved by God. When we know the love of God, we can love others well.
And I suppose that knowing we are loved by God means knowing that he loves us while knowing full well who we are. We need to confess that we’ve opened Ashley Madison accounts or struggle with pornography, have had affairs – whether emotional or physical. We need to confess our sexual perversions to trusted others and capable others, people who can handle it. Some of us have to begin by confessing to our spouses. Being honest about who we are is the first step toward wholeness. If we’re not honest with ourselves, God, or trusted others, we’ll never get better.
But maybe we fear the consequences of our honesty. The consequences can be terrible. Consequences can range from loss of relationships, family, jobs, reputation, and maybe even our freedom (jail). Maybe some of us will need to spend time in prison to pay for our sins because of who we’ve raped or abused. We may need to atone for our sins here and now. But we don’t want to. It’s too embarrassing. There’s too much to lose. So we cover up and continue on being not well, not well at all. And we continue to hurt, damage, and abuse others.
You know what though? As I said above, confessing is the first step to getting better. You don’t need to carry this weight around with you anymore. It’s too much to bear. Confess who you are and what you’ve been. Remember Jacob who was a liar and deceiver? When he wrestled with the Angel of the Lord, the Angel of the Lord asked him his name. ‘Jacob’ he said. Jacob meant ‘deceiver’. It was only after his wrestling match with the Angel of the Lord that he confessed his name. And when he confessed his name, God gave him a new name, ‘Israel’ which means (‘he strives with God’, see Genesis 32). The name Jacob would no longer give him away as a deceiver. He had a new name, Israel – he fought with God and prevailed. Now he had to live into his new name. The old was gone.
Do you need a new name?
God longs to give you a new name. Your sexual sin, immorality, and perversions no longer have to define you. When you repent, you change direction, you change your ways. You moved towards God, which means you move towards wholeness and shalom. You move towards flourishing instead of away from it. You move toward how things should be, how they were meant to be. You move towards what you were created to be. You don’t need to live in this pigsty anymore. There is hope for you. God will forgive you. And if God can forgive you, you can forgive yourself even if others don’t. You can start right now to become like Jesus.
It won’t happen overnight and you can’t do it by yourself. But as you begin to live an honest and obedient life in a community of trusted and safe others, little by little you’ll become more like Jesus.
Listen, it’s better to lose reputation and to be embarrassed than to cultivate the work of death in you. It’d be better to be honest and to get better than to be dishonest, eventually be found out, and possibly lose your soul.
Blessed are the poor in spirit, blessed are those who know who they are, who know they are broken, and who cry out for help. They will be heard by God. They will be made whole. The kingdom of heaven belongs to them.
May that be you.
It can be you.
Jesus doesn’t kick you when you are down.
There’s grace and forgiveness and love for you.
You too can become like Jesus.
This goes for all the Christians whose names appear on Ashley Madison accounts, Josh Duggar, and others. Jesus calls us all, including those we’d rather not include.
2 thoughts on “Ashley Madison, Josh Duggar, & Becoming Like Jesus”
So much wisdom here Marlena. I love this line “Being vocal about family values doesn’t entail that people endow their families with value. “
Thank you so much for writing this, Marlena. As much as it has hurt to see the scandal so many who claim the name of Christ are caught up in, it hurts me just as much to see Christ followers whose work and writings I respect proceed to rip to shreds those very same people. Because I know I don’t want to be a part of a faith that claims family values while simultaneously degrading women, excluding minorities, and vilifying my LGBT friends. But I also don’t think the Jesus I love is one who turns around and curses those abusers.
So thank you for being a voice who knows how to love both victim and abuser.