When Someone You Love Does The Unthinkable

I don’t think I have ever seen anything quite like what we are seeing in the public square today. Ever since Harvey Weinstein’s victims went public, we have seen a snowball effect of women bringing some powerful men’s past discretions to light.

These women are being incredibly brave and they should be commended for it. This is a significant movement in our culture and we must all take note. My friend Greg put it this way on Facebook:

“I suspect we are at the tip of the iceberg. Media, entertainment, sports, politics, religion. Sexual sin and it’s oppression is finally socially unfashionable. You can almost feel the fear flowing.”

People are being called into account for their actions. What was once a secret is now being made public. This is a good thing. It’s the sort of stuff that Jesus talked about:

“What you have said in the dark will be heard in the daylight, and what you have whispered in the ear in the inner rooms will be proclaimed from the roofs.” -Luke 12:3 NIV

This movement is also a scary thing.

I’ve recently shared with friends that I’m glad I’m not in politics. In that arena, someone is always looking for junk on you. I think that if a person were motivated enough, he could probably find something I said or wrote or did in the last 30 years that might cause someone to question my qualifications for public office.

Taken in the wrong context, we all have things in our pasts that we are ashamed of. Or at least embarrassed about. We all have skeletons in our closets. We all have regrets of foolish — or sinful — or even illegal behaviors. Dress it up all you want, none of us are as clean as we claim to be. 

On a relational level, this movement is a difficult thing.

Let's be honest. Many people in entertainment who worked closely with Harvey Weinstein have admitted that he was a little bit....how do I say it.... "slimy." Few were surprised when all the allegations against him surfaced. 

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But now it's Matt Lauer. A colleague has accused him of inappropriate sexual behavior and, after a quick but thorough investigation, he was fired from NBC. I have to confess that, in spite of his imperfections, I sort of saw Matt as a "good guy." How could he?!

Which leads me to the burning question of our day.

As I watched the Today Show this morning, news anchor Savannah Guthrie asked the question that we must all ask:

We are grappling with a dilemma that so many people have had to face these past few weeks: “How do you reconcile your love for someone with the revelation that they have behaved badly?”

In this case, a news anchor is struggling with how to respond when the person she thought she knew wasn't that person after all. She is trying to determine if she can continue to love a man who is significantly flawed...a man who did something very wrong and very foolish. Something sinful. Something horrible.

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How do any of us respond when we find out that someone we love isn't as perfect as we thought? While no response to that question is applicable to any and every situation, there are some places to start that, I believe, are based on God's Word and rooted in God's grace. 

What To Do When Someone You Love Does The Unthinkable:

1. Continue to love them.

We must remember that doing bad things doesn’t make someone a bad person. Because of our fallen world, every person in God's creation is a broken version of His design. The Apostle Paul makes clear that "All have sinned and have fallen short of the glory of God." (Romans 3:23) In spite of their sin (no matter how terrible it might be), you can still love the people who let you down. We love because God loves us. His love is unconditional and we must strive to emulate that.

2. Remember that love allows for natural consequences.

When someone sins, they must submit themselves to the built in consequences that come with their sin. There are no shortcuts here. If they break the law, they must submit to the legal repercussions. If they step outside the boundaries of a work contract, they must accept their termination. God places all of us under legitimate authorities for our own good. When we try to avoid the natural consequences, we are likely doomed to repeat our foolish behaviors.

3. Believe in the possibility of redemption. 

God is still in the business of taking broken people and making them whole again. No matter how disgusting a person's behavior might be to us, we must not lose sight of the fact that they can change. Thankfully, God doesn't deal with us based on who we used to be. He deals with us based upon who He is turning us into.  Our old life has passed away and new life as come. God gives us plenty of second chances and we must be willing to do likewise with those we love. 

4. If there is repeated bad behavior, distance yourself. 

When I hear of sexual sin within a marriage, I encourage couples to establish accountability and some firm parameters for moving forward, but I also encourage the wronged spouse to lead with grace. This provides the best context for healing, but only if the unfaithful spouse is committed to change. If there is habitual sin and the cycle never breaks, I encourage the wronged spouse to create some distance. Over time, if there is still no change, there may be biblical grounds for divorce. The bottom line is that points 1-3 above work when there is brokenness and repentance. Without that, the sinful behavior still dominates the person's life and there's little left to do but pray for them. 

The Today Show staff (and I) can still love Matt Lauer

I still like Matt Lauer. Just as I'm sure that there are still people out there who still like Harvey Weinstein. While their (alleged) behaviors are absolutely reprehensible, their past behaviors do not have to define them. It is possible that they can confess, grow, and change.

One of the absolute best things that can happen to any of us is to get caught. When that happens, it is an opportunity for us to deal with our sin and allow God to transform us more into His image. 

So many men are having to deal with the consequences of their past sins. May we remember that their sins do not make them undeserving of love. Neither do yours. 

Aren't you glad that's true?