As I was surfing the net last night I came across a story on a popular Christian forum I browse every once in a while. The story was of yet another prominent Televangelist who admitted to having an affair. He and his wife decided to publically speak about the affair that happened years ago instead of paying hush money to someone who was blackmailing them.... is this the ministry or a soap opera? They said it was a very painful time in their marriage but that after counseling, and new found accountability from people in their ministry, they were able to find restoration in their marriage.
But to be honest, I think what I was more disgusted with was not the admission of an affair.... it was the reaction of fellow believers on that forum. They seemed to be delighting in it, almost giddy at the news. They made jokes about it, posted up other rumors they had read, as well as names of other preachers who have been in that same situation. Then they said we should pray for them. The whole "Let's gossip first and pray later" thing we Christians can be so good at. But is this sort of reaction troubling to anyone else?
You know, for the minister there is no justifying what he did, and he knows it. The truth is out because what is done in darkness will always come to light. He's not trying to justify it anymore but is now apologizing for it. And you know what? If he has sincerely repented of the affair, God has not only forgiven it, but forgotten it as well. But we however, us fellow believers who watch this on TV and read about it on the internet, it gives us a prime opportunity to be self righteous. We don't easily forgive and we certainly don't forget.
If only just for a little while, it gives us a chance to forget about our sins and short comings to focus on his. We can feel like "good little Christians" for just a little while. We judge him and his ministry and it feels good for the time being. But God forbid all of our secrets come to light, God forbid our skeletons happen to be forced out into the open. We all sin and fall short of His glory, yes even ministers, but at least we don't have millions of people watching, waiting, and rejoicing when it happens.
When we do this, aren't we forgetting that he and his family are humans just like everyone else? .... They are not perfect or infallible. They have pain in their lives, things to figure out and get right, just like everyone else. Ministers and their families already carry a much heavier load because of the sheer weight of that responsibility. Without a healthy spiritual life and Godly accountability, it’s a breeding ground for sin.
The guilt, regret, and public shame he is facing, the pain and embarrassment his wife is facing, the hurt and possible anger his children are facing... that's all ignored. In all our gossip we have forgotten this is a real family who needs our prayer and support. Not our slander.
We are all sinners saved only by grace. No one is ever beyond the reach of temptation. We are all susceptible to evil because of the fall. And I don't think people realize that the enemy will attack you 10 times harder when you're in the ministry. Spiritual warfare is a very real thing. And spiritual warfare is what goes on behind the scenes.... you just don't see it.
We've created a church devoid of accountability and we wonder why we fall.
We've created a church full of fakes and frauds who are terrified of being found out, and we wonder why we fall.
We've created a church full of secrets and we wonder why we fall.
We've created a church full of gossip and lies and we wonder why we fall.
And this will only continue on if we do not make it safe and okay for ministers, as well as fellow believers, to come clean and be honest about what they are struggling with, without fear of being judged. No more secrets. No more lies. No more shadows, and darkened shrouds.... but light.
We are all the body of Christ, yet we turn on each other. But we are still brothers and sisters in Him, beautiful and broken as we may be. Some are running this race strong after Christ and praise God for that! But still, others are walking, some barely crawling, and some will fall away completely. But God help us if we ever find ourselves rejoicing in that.
God help us, your body of believers, brothers and sister in you, to never turn against each other. But instead, help lead each other out of the darkness and further into your light.