This blog entry has no winners.
It doesn't offer a bright spot or happy ending.
A Pastor takes his own life - again.
According to CNN.Money John Gibson, a pastor and seminary professor in New Orleans, took his own life in light of the fact that he apparently had an account on the Ashley Madison website. If you don't know what Ashely Madison is, it is a website that offers you the discreet ability to have an affair. Their marketing slogan is, "Life is short, have an affair". They promised two things. 1) You can have an affair with someone and 2) we will keep your information secure. They failed on the second one when the data from 37 million accounts were revealed on the internet for anyone to find. John Gibson was one of them.
What happened? I really don't know. I would like to point out though that he only had an account. There is no suggestion that he actually went through with any kind of affair. However, an old saying of my grandmothers I think will put things in perspective. "Curiosity killed the cat." The fact that he was there, was more than he could stand - why?
Pastors and followers of Christ alike are suppose to live a standard that is higher than this worlds. When one's sins are exposed for the whole world to see, it is crushing to put it mildly. John's wife Christi said, "What we know about him is that he poured his life into other people, and he offered grace and mercy and forgiveness to everyone else, but somehow he couldn't extend that to himself."
She goes on to say that, "It wasn't so bad that we wouldn't have forgiven it,..."
So why such drastic action? Shame. He was so ashamed of himself he couldn't forgive himself. Shame is a powerful emotion that usually results from depression and anxiety. It doesn't allow you to look people in the eye. It doesn't allow you to have a close relationship with those you love. It's existence serves as a constant reminder that you are a failure. That everything you stand for and believe in is a lie. Those whom you have had the privilege of knowing and helping will look at you and think, "Wow, what a joke. How could I have been taken in by such a jerk."
Now before you start writing me nasty e-mails read on. This is what shame leads you to think. It distorts your reality and leaves you in the worst possible light possible. I am sure that the people who loved John would have forgiven him and accepted him. Sure there were going to be repercussions, but it didn't mean rejection.
WHAT CAN YOU DO? Practice real and public forgiveness for others to see. Let the world see you forgive others and they will beat a path to your door to be forgiven. But Russ, I can't forgive people! Yes and No.
No you cannot forgive people of their sins. Only Jesus can do that. We will get to that in a minute.
Yes, you can release people from the knowledge that you will see them through their eyes of shame for the rest of all time. True biblical forgiveness means to release people from their offenses. That means, once you forgive them,the next time you see each other - your relationship is in no way effected by the knowledge of their offense. Now before you go all haywire on me and tell me you can't do that - yes you can. Jesus did it. But Russ, He was the Son of God? True, but that's only half of the story. Jesus, the Son of man, was on a cross when He forgave you of your sins. JESUS DOESN'T LOOK AT YOU THROUGH YOUR EYES OF SHAME.
People who forgive others have a ministry that helps others discover the forgiveness, mercy and grace of Jesus. John apparently forgot what I am telling you. I don't know why but I wish I knew him. I would have been happy to have reminded Him and helped him discover this all over again. If you will forgive others, others will come to ask how they can be forgiven too. Don't be surprised if it is people who could or should know better. Shame is an awful emotion that can cloud the mind and heart. Here is the key phrase that you can say that will make all the difference. "I don't see you the way you see yourself."
A word about Ashley Madison. The whole idea, like many ideas on the internet, is stupid. Run away from stupid.