Sin, particularly sexual sin, requires confrontation not spin or scripting. That is why perhaps the best course of action for Jerry Falwell Jr. and his wife, Becki, who has admitted to adultery with a former "pool boy"-turned-business partner, is to "go dark" and leave the limelight as soon as possible.
When one's sexual sin is played out in public, it becomes even more challenging to avoid scripting. Regarding sexual sin, restoring what these “…locusts have eaten,” takes significant time and work that cannot be accomplished under a media glare. While more things may emerge, they need not be made into headlines.
Those of us with the painful experience of being immersed in the sewer of sexual sin know that one does not enter this cesspool from the high diving board. It starts with looking at the pool, testing one’s toes, dipping, and before you realize it, one is climbing the ladder and preparing for a swan dive. And with sin, there is always a ladder. An event or a photo often serves as only a percentage of what lies beneath.
This is where godly ministers can intervene. “You’re not under discipline, Peter, you’re under authority.” I heard those words from one of the most wonderful pastors I have ever known. “Because you were not caught, but rather confessed, the work of the Holy Spirit was clearly putting pressure on your heart to deal with your sin.”
Explaining further, he helped me understand that stepping out of the shadows and asking for help put me on a path to restoration. Our pastor clearly admonished me to not “script” the recovery but to instead process the pain privately with trusted professionals, then later (much later) share the process. He, and others, walked with me on a trajectory of accountability, counseling, pastoral help, and most importantly, repentance — a complete reversal of my life. I also learned that one does not tout repentance. If real, repentance is affirmed.
Along the way, we heard stories from others. One man told me, “I was involved in a similar situation. It took me several months, but I started to feel better.”
I categorically rejected his comments. “How could this be about feeling better?”
That one statement launched a whole new understanding of sanctification and trusting God with brutal challenges. “It’s not about feeling better, but rather about being better.”
Dying to oneself is horrific. Jesus refers to it as taking up our cross and following him. As we do this, however, we discover a deeper understanding of scriptures we may have glossed over. “Yea, though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death, I will fear no evil for Thou art with me,” is often repeated at funerals. Yet, that remains the perfect scripture to cling to in marriage counseling when sexual sin has ripped holes in the hearts of a couple.
Paul wrote in Galatians, “I have been crucified with Christ and I no longer live, but Christ lives in me. The life I now live in the body, I live by faith in the Son of God, who loved me and gave himself for me” - Gal. 2:20
Those words become oxygen when gasping under the weight of the wounds you caused while looking at the crushed spirit of the one you wounded.
To the Falwells and so many more desperately wanting out of this cesspool, the stench of this can take a lifetime to wash off and cannot be done alone. Furthermore, the smell of this remains permanently memorable.
When Jesus called Lazarus back to life, Lazarus did not stink, but his grave clothes did. Jesus asked family and friends to help remove those putrid items. The smell must have made them gag.
But, oh the joy of seeing their brother and friend alive!
Our Savior reaches into the vilest of things to rescue and call us to life. If we are to be like Him, we must do the same. Punching through the stench, we bask in the joy of seeing our brothers and sisters returned to life.
Yet, we cannot script the journey of repentance and restoration. The good news, however, is that He already has.
Peter Rosenberger is the host of the nationally syndicated radio program, Hope for the Caregiver. In his 35th year of caring for his wife, Gracie, through a medical nightmare, Peter speaks to the challenges faced by family caregivers. www.hopeforthecaregiver.com