Today, I learned the sad tale of a colleague (whom I had never met) named Dr. John Gibson, a seminary professor at New Orleans Baptist Seminary, who took his own life days after the Ashley Madison scandal hit. We know the story because his family shared it publicly. His widow, to be highly commended, said in part, “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.” Spot on. I do not mean to say that adultery is insignificant to God. But there are much more pressing issues.
The Ashley Madison site is an intentional adultery hookup site that got hacked last month. All the participants names were released to the public. Dr. Gibson apparently had signed up. But I think he also subscribed to a belief common in our society and in our church that sexual sin is close to the most cardinal sin to God.
Let’s go back to the Bible. What was David’s sin? People will often point to Bathsheba. But the Bible lists it as “David’s sin against Uriah.” David had Uriah killed so that he could be with Bathsheba. His sex with her was surely sin but it was not the sin that really got God’s ire up. It was depriving Uriah of his life.
It isn’t that there isn’t moral and immoral sex in God’s eyes, there is. But death permanently stops any chance of repentance or reconciliation in this life. We will post and talk about all sorts of sexual issues. But news about suicide and homicide? That’s not nearly so interesting to us. Few would guess that suicides, for example, greatly outnumber the homicides we read about in the news. When we will grow up and see that homicides, suicides, and even worse, genocides, are far more grievous to God than sexual misconduct? Talk about the log in our eyes versus the speck.
I am sorry Dr. Gibson made the choices he did. I believe he still was greeted by a graceful God. But his family will now live for the rest of their lives with his choice to take his life. We need to pray for them and all the surviving families of suicides. And I am even sorrier that the church does such a poor job in teaching Christians, even Christian leaders, that God’s grace is far more powerful than our weaknesses and that reconciliation with those we have wronged is our primary calling rather than to act as judge, jury, and even executioner over our or someone else’s flaws.
What do you think?