Responding to Arnie’s adultery

I was disappointed with my inbox this morning.

I only subscribe to two blogs via email because I hate my inbox getting clogged up.  One of those is Michael Hyatt’s. I’ve referenced it several times on this blog because I love his practical approach to life and leadership.

Today he shared his thoughts in the wake of Arnold Schwarzenegger’s adultery, and it made my heart sad.

Hyatt and I both agree that adultery is not God’s design.  It’s not something to be accepted or tolerated.  God takes marriage super seriously and there’s a reason adultery bore the penalty of death under the law.  It’s a big deal. I would even like to put out there that it’s a bigger deal than any of us grasp.

Hyatt’s view on the seriousness of adultery is not what made me sad.  What made me sad was the lack of gospel in his post.

I think he and I probably agree on these things, but I feel the need to clarify my thoughts on some very key questions:

What saves us from adultery?

Hyatt provides ‘action steps’ to protect his marriage; a call to healthy boundaries and wise decisions. Not one of the steps involves prayer or God.

I don’t have a problem with the need for boundaries.  I do have a problem with implying that these ‘steps’ and boundaries will save us from sin.

I read each word of this post, eager to see Hyatt share about the need we have for Jesus to overcome sin.  I kept waiting to hear in his voice the desperate cry of a man who believes he has been given mercy.

Do we believe we’re as bad as Arnie?

I think that Hyatt would probably answer yes to that question.  After all, that’s the right answer.  But there’s a big difference between saying we’re the worst of sinners and believing we’re the worst of sinners.

Now a man may SAY this, but really to KNOW it is something more than SAYING. Besides, he may be willing to take the name of sinner to himself, in common with his fellow-men, and yet not at all own himself such a sinner as God says he is—such a sinner as needs the cross, and blood, and righteousness of the Son of God.- Horatius Bonar

When we hear about someone’s sin and we find ourselves asking the question ‘How could someone do that?’ our gospel alarms should go to code red.

The heart of that question is rooted in a deep misunderstanding of our own depravity:

  • We don’t believe we are capable of that.  Sure, we may say we do, but if we really believed that we wouldn’t ask that question.
  • We don’t really believe our sin is as bad as that.  We don’t really believe that our desire for approval, or our anxiety or coveting is as horrific as adultery.

I saw a great video of an interview with CJ Mahaney a couple of weeks ago.  The guy interviewing CJ asks him what he means when he says he is ‘the worst of sinners’?

He tries to explain for CJ: you mean that you are capable of the worst of sin, right? You don’t mean that if we laid out a list of your sin against a list of someone elses yours would be the worst, right?

CJ disagreed with that assessment, explaining that he genuinely believes that there is no one in that room whose sin is worse than his.

It’s devastatingly counter-cultural, but gloriously gospel centered: he actually believes the disgusting but ‘acceptable’ sins in his life are as horrific as any sin you could put on the table.

Here’s my question for you today: do you believe you are the worst of sinners?  If so, it will be reflected in how you respond to the sin of those around you.

What is the testimony of a great leader?

I felt my heart sink as I read the words: “nothing will destroy our influence and legacy faster than an affair”.

I understand what he means. I  know there is a calling on a leader to be ‘above reproach’ and I know how the world is waiting to doubt the truth of our words by the inconsistency in our lives, and I loathe the way we can often cast Jesus as worthless by the choices we make in our lives.

But, boy do I hate that sentence.

I hate that because I know that there are people reading Hyatt’s blog who have failed.

I know that there are people who believe that they’ve ruined it; they’ve ruined their lives beyond redemption and now they have resigned themselves to a life without impact.  They honestly believe their sin has cost them any ability to make a dent in this world for the kingdom of God.

I know that there are many who rolled out of bed this morning and opened their inbox to find the lie that they battle in the deepest parts of their hearts right there in black and white; the lie that they have destroyed their ability to be used powerfully this side of heaven.

Our testimony does not sabotage our ability to be used.  That’s the glorious reversal of the gospel.

I think King David left a pretty good legacy and he was an adulterer.  I think Paul turned out to be used fairly effectively for God’s glory and he was a murderer.  I think Peter planted a pretty successful Church despite his denial of Christ.

I do have a standard for leadership.  I long to follow men and women who love Jesus with everything in them.  I long to follow men and women who repent for their sin and stand in the gospel and fight the good fight with everything in them.

And today – by the grace of God, I will be that kind of leader.

2 thoughts on “Responding to Arnie’s adultery

  1. I love this post. It reminded me of one of Jonathan Edwards’s resolutions, “Resolved, to act, in all respects, both speaking and doing, as if nobody had been so vile as I, and as if I had committed the same sins, or had the same infirmities or failings as others; and that I will let the knowledge of their failings promote nothing but shame in myself, and prove only an occasion of my confessing my own sins and misery to God”(Resolution #8). Praying this truth sinks into my heart and mind as I type this.

  2. Thanks for this. I think you hit it exactly right, and I pray that our churches will be full of people who see their own sins as the worst, and see themselves and others as forgiven, holy, and beloved by God.

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