Wednesday, May 28, 2014

A Confession about Confession

I’ll confess, confessing is hard. But I was struck by the recent confession of a well known Christian leader. The scenario is all too familiar. The leader, a male, was involved in a number of inappropriate relationships with younger females. Just stating it like that makes it seem sterile and impersonal. The women involved were often young or na├»ve when the activity was occuring, or weren’t heard when they voiced complaints, or they just didn’t know what to do with it all, but then discovered or created a web-site to air their concerns. In this case, the nationally known leader was removed from his position and sent out a letter confessing his sin and asking forgiveness. The confession went something like this, “I admit that I was involved in holding hands, touching feet, and hair and blah blah blah. Etc etc etc.”

That another man fell into sin as a result of sexual impropriety doesn’t surprise me. It sobers me. It makes me afraid that I’ll do the same thing someday, maybe without even being sensitive to it. Certainly these guys are smart, well educated, and often spiritually sensitive men, at least at some point in their lives. But something happens. Frankly, its not the purpose of this post to suggest possibilities. What I want to simply note is the content of the confession.

Confession is more than simply stating the facts. It’s acknowledged remorse and regret not for the inconvenience of the act or the humiliation of the act but for the ugliness and downright evil of the act itself. Confession doesn’t say, “Well, I held hands and touched feet and hair but it wasn’t sexual.” Baloney! Who’s he trying to kid? Confession would say, “While my actions didn’t include intercourse, they included many activities that were sexual in nature and thus damaging to the women involved as well as to my ministry. Furthrmore, the fact that I didn’t see that reality, while involving myself in those activities, is as great a cause for alarm as the activities themselves. I’m getting help and have sought to reconcile with all involved. I am deeply ashamed of my insensitivity and behavior and will step aside indefinitely so that I am no longer a hinderance to the work of God.” That’s confession.

So, in short, confession isn’t “I made a mistake” or “I goofed” or “I did this or that but it wasn’t really that bad” or “I took the money but really didn’t steal it” or “I mistated the facts but it wasn’t intended to be a lie.” Confession owns up to what was done wrong within tactfully appropriate bounds. It’s that simple and that straight forward. May God help us all to become more sensitive to our actions. But when we do fail, may God help us to actually admit it, and confess it, rather than explain it away.

Boston Strong

I participated in the 118th running of the Boston Marathon last Monday (April 21). Last year I dropped out due to injury and was sitting in a restaurant with Jan and family friends when news of the bombing interrupted our meal. We got up, paid what we owed, dropped our friends off at the airport so that they could head back to Seattle, and drove as fast as we could out of the city. There was nothing we could do. But having experienced 9/11 first hand I knew that if we didn’t leave quick, we probably wouldn’t be leaving at all, at least not for while. The pictures of the bombings horror are now enshrined in our national memory. It was a sad day in American history.

But this year was different. This was marathon number eighteen for me. I’ve run in Athens, Greece and done New York City five times and I’ve not experienced anything like this. For one, my qualifying time of 3:05 put me in the last third of the first of four waves and in coral seven. Usually that time will put you way up towards the front. This year, just to get into the first wave, you had to run a 3:12 marathon. That's pretty quick for most people.

Second, the race and logistics was the best I’ve ever seen. It ran like clock work. The transportation logistics alone were astronomical.

Third, this was the most secure race I’ve ever run in. Between miles 23-26 I saw clothed police officers roughly 25 yards apart, all facing the crowd who screamed at levels I’ve not heard ever. The Wellesley girls seemed muted this year in comparison.

I ran a 3:11—not the fastest time in the world and certainly not what I wanted. I only trained, again due to injury, roughly two months for this race. My legs were on the verge of cramping from mile 17 on but they didn’t. In the end, it was one of the smartest races I’ve run as I didn’t have the conditioning to run like I’d have liked so when I got close to cramping, I just slowed down and had fun. What an experience. I hope to it run again next year—God willing.