Since I wrote last May about the disclosures of Josh’s inappropriate touching of his younger sisters (and a friend) when he was fourteen and the ensuing scandal, my thoughts turn again to him and his family today.
Now we find out that for years he’s been leading a double life, addicted to porn, getting on the Ashley Madison website that facilitates adultery and has been unfaithful to his wife.
“I have been the biggest hypocrite ever. While espousing faith and family values, I have been unfaithful to my wife,” he wrote in a public apology. “As I am learning the hard way, we have the freedom to choose to our actions, but we do not get to choose our consequences. I deeply regret all hurt I have caused so many by being such a bad example. I humbly ask for your forgiveness.”
Sorrow upon sorrow. So disheartening for the body of Christ. And another shot across our bow to turn from our failures and indifference and draw near to a God who reaches out in terrible, loving rebuke to draw us to himself.
This summer I’ve been reading the prophet Ezekiel. I’ve been struck by how God ruthlessly exposes the sin of his people, especially their leaders, before he brings down horrific destruction.
Ezekiel 8:6-12, 18 And he said to me, “Son of man, do you see what they are doing, the great abominations that the house of Israel are committing here, to drive me far from my sanctuary? But you will see still greater abominations.”
And he brought me to the entrance of the court, and when I looked, behold, there was a hole in the wall. Then he said to me, “Son of man, dig in the wall.” So I dug in the wall, and behold, there was an entrance. And he said to me, “Go in, and see the vile abominations that they are committing here.”
So I went in and saw. And there, engraved on the wall all around, was every form of creeping things and loathsome beasts, and all the idols of the house of Israel. And before them stood seventy men of the elders of the house of Israel, with Jaazaniah the son of Shaphan standing among them. Each had his censer in his hand, and the smoke of the cloud of incense went up.
Then he said to me, “Son of man, have you seen what the elders of the house of Israel are doing in the dark, each in his room of pictures? For they say, ‘The LORD does not see us, the LORD has forsaken the land.'”
Therefore I will act in wrath. My eye will not spare, nor will I have pity. And though they cry in my ears with a loud voice, I will not hear them.”
“What the elders of the house of Israel are doing in the dark, each in his room of pictures?” It’s hard to read this and not think of all our Christian leaders who are ensnared in pornography. And my own hidden idols of the heart.
Ezekiel is God’s shock and awe campaign to bring the Jews still back in Israel to repentance. Chapter 8 could be a riveting movie as God takes Ezekiel from scene to scene exposing one “abomination” after another.
This summer we have seen God exposing our convictions about gay marriage. Exposing the dismemberment and sale of innocents by Planned Parenthood. The murder and oppression of our black citizens. Now this week the personal information of millions of Ashley Madison’s adultery seeking clients has been dumped on the web. Add Josh to a long list. Add our own sins on top of that.
There are many nuances and complexities to Judah’s situation and our own, but I can’t help but see a compelling similarity: God is calling us to confession and repentance on the one hand while he shakes up the markets and the nations on the other. What are we prepared to do?
Back in May I defended Josh’s parents’ decisions. But only God knows what is best. Or how radically our sin needs to be exposed to restore us to intimacy with him
Regardless, Jesus calls us to forgive. Show mercy. Trust, on the other hand, has to be earned. I shudder when I think of the life ahead for this young man.
Since Josh’s first exposure a friend of mine and I have shared our grief over Josh’s sin and the terrible consequences for him, his family, the church and Jesus Christ–all targeted with scorn and derision.
We are again stunned by the unbelievable intensity of hatred directed at Josh and the family–and God–over the newest revelations.
We are praying that this “severe mercy” will be the making of a new dawn of Christian manhood for Josh and not his destruction. We share deep concern for his life and sanity, his marriage and immediate family.
My friend shared this prayer with me and I share it with you:
“May God, the merciful One, be his (their) fortress against the screaming, gnashing voices of hatred and contempt. May the larger family find a way back to a normal, more hidden (in Christ) life, away from the world’s vicious and precarious pedestals.
“Abba, have mercy. Jesus, have mercy. Holiest of Spirits, have mercy. Envelop them with your tender mercies, be close to the brokenhearted. Lift them up in their contrition. Be mighty on their behalf in this horrific darkness and storm. Put their accusers to shame. Your own honor is as secure as Your sovereignty. As they fall, let them fall Zionwards, into your arms, and be upheld. Grace. Grace. Sufficient Grace.”
And may God move us all to look deeply into our own lives, ask him to expose the hidden darkness and turn us to his amazing, saving grace.
I would really like to hear your thoughts on this. Please respond in the comments section below…