Friday, March 14, 2008

Stunning Fall From Grace

"A moment comes for every addict when the consequences are so great or the pain is so bad that the addict admits life is out of control because of his or her sexual behavior. Some are news-making moments...." Dr. Patrick Carnes goes on to say: "Millions read the steamy news accounts and, despite their own prurience, make severe judgments about people who... visit prostitutes, who commit homosexual acts in public toilets, or even who have affairs." Dr. Carnes then shares this insight: "A small audience - but larger than most imagine - read each line fearing that the same public exposure could happen to them...." (Out of the Shadows: Understanding Sexual Addiction, page 1)

Having experienced my own fall from grace, I know the moment Dr. Carnes is describing, a moment which I re-live today upon reading the newspaper and NY Governor Eliot Spitzer's statement of remorse and resignation:

In the past few days I've begun to atone for my private failing with my wife, Silda, my children and my entire family. The remorse I feel will always be with me. Words cannot describe how grateful I am for the love and compassion they have shown me.
From those to whom much is given, much is expected.... I am deeply sorry I did not live up to what was expected of me.
To every New Yorker, and to all those who believed in what I tried to stand for, I sincerely apologize. I look at my time as governor with a sense of what might have been....

His words express so much of what I felt and what I wish I could have said when my moment came and my life crashed around me. Years have gone by, but to any who haven't heard me say it, I am sincerely and deeply sorry. The changes I've made in my life now, I wish I could have made them so much sooner.

I sincerely hope that Eliot Spitzer is able to begin the journey of recovery from sexual addiction. What? Is Spitzer a sexual addict? Does it really sound sane to spend over $4000 to fly in a hooker on the eve before Valentine's Day? They're estimating he's spent over $80,000 in the last 8 months for encounters with prostitutes in Dallas, Florida and Washington. I see a life spinning out of control - an addiction being fully acted out as shown by the incredible inability to stop which is the sine qua non of sexual addiction. When a person violates their own personal standards and can no longer direct themselves out of harm's way, it is usually safe to conclude that some sort of addiction is in play.

King David, of Old Testament Israel, was exposed for his sins of adultery with Bathsheba, trying to cover it up and then having her husband killed. In describing the consequences of his sins and what he would do, the LORD said to David, “Although you have acted in secret, I will do this thing before all Israel, and in broad daylight” (2 Samuel 12:12). It is no small thing when political and spiritual leaders fall from grace. And yet we don't seem to be able to protect ourselves from politicians and pastors whose sexual behaviour ultimately destroys their public service. We've focused our attention on trying to prevent such disasters from happening, and yet they continue to happen. Perhaps, we must also begin to better consider how the fallen can be restored. After all, history still described David as "a man after God's own heart." Does Christianity today offer a message of hope, forgiveness and restoration to those who fall from grace into sexual sins?

Related Sermons

David, Jim Baker & Jimmy Swaggart
Looking to 1 Samuel 11 & 12, this message critically examines how Jim Baker, Jimmy Swaggart and I as a pastor each responded to the kind of temptation which led David to seduce Bathsheba, get her pregnant, try to cover it all up, arrange to have her husband killed and then marry her. Why does sexual sin so quickly turn into such a devastating spiral of destruction? Why do pastors today not learn from David's experience? How can Christians today including "desperate housewives" and porn-addicted men find a way of stopping the devastating spiral?

2 Samuel 13 is a very telling account of sexuality gone wrong. What can we learn from the Scriptures to help us face a world in which perversion is no longer something not talked about, but rather one of the biggest, fastest growing markets on the Internet? What's gone wrong?

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