Sin will take you farther than you want to go, keep you longer than you want to stay, and cost you more than you want to pay. ~unknown
I’m not sure there’s ever been a truer statement.
My dad, the preacher, used to say it from the pulpit many Sundays I can remember, growing up. And when the news about Ashley Madison broke, it was the truth my mind recalled.
The thing about Ashley Madison (the “life is short, have an affair” website and the subsequent recent news ousting of the people who participated in it) is this: it’s not really about Ashley Madison. It’s about sin.
All such trainwrecks are.
(Interesting: I started a blog weeks ago when another situation in my life came up. But I tabled it, because it didn’t feel like the right time. And now, with the recent news, it is because at the core, it was about this.)
I have a friend who’s in kind of a mess. And when I say kind of a mess what I really mean is her life has gotten uglier than I can tell you about online, and she is having a huge come to Jesus moment about how her sin and compromise has brought her to this place. She’s losing things she loves. It’s all painful…everyday is painful. It’s farther than she wanted to go and held her hostage for a long time and cost her bucket loads more than she wanted to pay.
I tell her some weeks ago, with a tone of loving hard, “ You know things went off the rails when you started to party and blow off God, right?”
“Yes,” she whispers. She already knows.
And so, my friend (who was, by the way, never on Ashley Madison) is in the same boat as those who now freshly mourn that they once took the sin bait and even with first bite, wound up with a pricetag way too expensive. Lives, once caught up in a quiet fleshly excitement are now having heartaches so deep their bones can’t contain it.
The truth is, no one ever knows when that first step towards sin will catch up with us and blow our lives wide open. That’s why, no first steps, ever.
It’s as I write in I Want God: say no to what your freedom allows but at the end of the day won’t make you more holy. Our freedom is a wide open space. But we have to monitor how far the run.
And with these thoughts…about my friend…and same, but different…those caught up in the mess that is Ashley Madison, I offer some blunt heart talk:
- There’s no level to which we must go to stay clean before God. I tell this to my friend, “Be the prudest of the prudes. That’s what it may require for you. Throw your tv out if it’s getting in your way of clean living. Don’t ever take another drink. Break up with friends who don’t help you run after God. The end.” And that’s just the truth. Whatever it takes to not fall into sin. Whatever it takes. Half-way means you’re not really serious. Not really serious flirts with sin. You know the rest.
- Freedom in Christ is not doing whatever we want. Oh, I wish I could write on this for hours. We’ve got an epidemic of (even ministry leaders) believers who were raised in a strict church world and are now just so stinkin’ excited to realize God is bigger than a box that they have gone to the extreme and have started to look like a traveling frat party. People with kids who are watching and Christianity’s rep in their circles up to them and I just want to shake some of them and say, “Hey listen – I’m so glad you now know my big God is not a taskmaster and rule enthusiast, but now is not the time to lose your mind, ok?”
- Living to be holy is not narrow minded, pedestrian or zealot-like. See, this is the dangerous whisper, and Satan’s got the pitch down. That it’s just about grace, all of it, and people who run hard after God are small minded, and God is love so He can’t also be guardrails. And it’s not true. He’s grace. He’s love. Yes, yes, yes. But he is holy and says it point blank, “Be holy, as I am holy.” (1 Peter 1:13-16) I mean, it’s not an ask. There’s no gentle suggestion. It’s a divine call, an expectation. And so, we must. And in that quest, we will look serious about God. And that may annoy some people. But don’t tell me I can’t run after God and be a fun, well-rounded person, too. Don’t tell me I am judgmental because I believe the Bible. Often those ideas are perpetrated onto people because they are either assumed to be like some Bible beating fool or they are convicted by a Jesus freak and it’s the easiest way to dismiss someone under the skin. I am a sarcastic, oft rebellious, silly woman with plenty of love and grace for people who, like me, have a mess in the rolodex. But man, I love God a lot. And both can be true.
- Expect for sin to kill you. I just don’t know how else to say it strong enough. Sin kills marriages. It kills kids hearts. It kills a pure spirit. It kills everything. Anything that kills is not worth playing around one second with. So right before that first step towards a compromise remember these words, this is about to kill me, and know that you’ve been told.
- Jesus. I mean, He’s the bottom line, right? He’s why no sin is worth it. Nothing works without Him. Nothing matters without Him. And everything is possible with Him: even the worst day, worst news, public disgrace of our messes. But He has to be Who we want most. It’s never going to come down to our will power. Not one of us is strong enough in and of ourselves. But wanting God most (and living with that single pursuit) is going to be what keeps us out of the death grip of sin. Just that. Period.
And so, if anything from this mess called Ashley Madison teaches us, let it be that once again we are reminded sin is nothing to play around with. It will never keep its promises. It will always, always kill us.
And again, we remember how much we need God and run to the One who saves.
**By request…my specific response to Josh Duggar’s confession, HERE.)
(If you aren’t aware of what I’m talking about when I refer to Ashley Madison, google it.)