Suicide, Ashley Madison, and One Essential of the Christian Faith

On August 24, 2015 Christi Gibson discovered her husband John’s deceased body. He had taken his own life. John was a pastor and professor at New Orleans Theological Seminary. He was the father of two wonderful children and a mentor to scores of students. In his suicide note, he admitted to being on the Ashley Madison user list and that he was just “very very sorry.”

Let’s talk for a moment. First the obvious, Christi said it best reflecting on her husband’s death “Don’t underestimate the power of love. Nothing is worth the loss of a father and a husband and a friend. It just didn’t merit it. It didn’t merit it at all.” To think there are 30 million people who are on that Ashley Madison list, each and every one has to remember, a mistake, even a big one can be overcome. And, Christi and family, I am so deeply sorry for your loss and for the pain so many other families are walking through right now.

Beyond those mentions, here is where my head goes after reading this story. A short inventory of my own thought life this morning and I saw greed, judgment, jealousy, self-righteousness, and a dash of deep-seated fear; that was all before breakfast and I hadn’t even spoken to another person yet!

Doctors Henry Cloud and John Townsend have pointed out one of the key qualities of emotional health is the ability to hold both good and bad in tension. You and I have parts of our internal selves which if found out, would sting. We carry fears, and thought patterns and for some, behaviors that need serious adjusting. We are not all good, nor are we all bad. We are both. And to be a healthy adult and a grace-filled Christian, we have to see and allow this reality for ourselves.

God holds both; your bad, is in His hands, your good as well. (And by the way marriages and friendships and churches must hold both too) I wish for Pastor John Gibson, he had found a way beyond his depression; unfortunately he thought the bad had taken too much ground in his own life.

Don’t for one moment; think you are too far gone, and don’t think for one moment you are all put together. And let’s not forget that both of those realities are in tension in our souls and relationships every single day.  The pitfall then is hiding. We see something bad in ourselves or someone else and we hide or we withdraw.

God has done the opposite and Christ is already victorious over sin. What are we if not a mixture of both good and bad running around each day and bumping into other mixtures of good and bad. Our community is just a complete concoction of imperfect souls. If we hide or withdraw each time a mess surfaces, we will have no hope. The only way forward is the way of grace, for ourselves and others. Hold good and bad in tension in ourselves and allow the imperfections of others we are closest to. Then we can start the restoration process with the never-run-out grace of Christ.

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