None of us is all that moral

“Am I willing to believe that there is something out there that is bigger than me? I wasn’t 100% sure until I started really [coming to] terms with my insanity.”

By the Book

For people unfamiliar with the recovery world, declaring ourselves “insane” sounds, well, kind of crazy. Who says that about themselves? But often it is true. Maybe it is not the kind of mental crisis that results in treatment, but I believe insanity is on a spectrum. Just because no one is locking you up, does not mean you are A-OK!

In the recovery world, we talk about insanity like this: doing the same thing over and over, expecting different results. Can you relate?

I have a friend who is struggling in her marriage. She keeps going to marriage retreats with her spouse but nothing is changing. I suggested they consider adding other resources to support their marital mending. Her pastor told her good Christians do NOT go to counseling.

I pointed out that I did not know that many good Christians. I hang out with the ones who struggle. They mess up. Like me. And I could see no downside to adding a voice into the mix of marital mayhem. What could it hurt? She thinks that it would hurt her reputation at church. And, get this - people might think they are having issues!!!!! THEY ARE HAVING ISSUES AND EVERYONE ALREADY KNOWS IT!! So this brings me to a question that seems to always apply: in your journey, what holds you back from getting the support you need? Does your reluctance make sense - or might it be your disease talking? Or your pride? Or your fear of change?

Source for the quote is found here: https://www.nacr.org/center-for-12-step-recovery/by-the-book-doing-the-twelve-steps/by-the-book-step-2 at 1:38.

What's our part?

Everyone has heard that there is sexual immorality among you.  This is a type of immorality that isn’t even heard of among the Gentiles - a man is having sex with his father’s wife!  And you’re proud of yourselves instead of being so upset that the one who did this thing is expelled from your community.  1 Corinthians 5:1-2

 

After much rumination and no small amount of people whipping out their seminary teachings, we finally got around to this:  and you’re proud of yourselves instead of being so upset that the one who did this thing is expelled from your community.

 

Here’s what we noticed:

  1. Paul was presuming that the sexual immorality was bad, but he was finding problems in places other than this guy’s bedroom.
  2. Paul is pointing out an attitude problem of those who weren't being appropriately discerning about protecting the community.  They were proud of themselves for keeping someone in the community who was putting the community at risk.  Yes, it's good to seek restoration wherever possible, but we also must be discerning about the well-being of the entire group.  
  3. Paul was inviting the Corinthian church (and we could invite the same of ourselves) to pause and contemplate. 

Here are some things we might contemplate when considering banishment:

  1. Are we more worried about our reputation or the restoration of one who needs restoring?
  2. Is our discussion centered around our core values?  Or are we driven by a fear to protect something - our ministry success?  What’s our motivation driving our thinking on this subject?
  3. What core values are we in danger of violating as we wrestle through this problem if we aren’t careful?
  4. How do we sort through and resolve our competing core values?  Which of our many core values are pertinent in this particular situation?
  5. What wounds/blind spots/prides/prejudices are in play in this room that need acknowledgement?

 

There were more noticings and contemplations, but this provides a general framework for the discussion.  These questions became so intriguing, so challenging, so engaging, that even the Senior Pastor tucked away his ipad and leaned forward into the discussion.  Here’s a wild and crazy idea I want to posit for your pondering:  It is possible, when we sidestep shame, to get very invigorated by the prospect of leaning into change and inviting God to transform us.  It’s exciting!  It’s in keeping with the humanity within us that bears the very image of God.  I’d invite you to consider that shame may be hindering your own enthusiasm for your own work of recovery.