“Have you seen the news? Hugh Freeze just resigned.”
Enter the 24 hours news cycle that rips flesh off the bone like a ravenous hyena. Tawdry details, I-told-you-sos, gloating by rival teams, and finally an awkward press conference where they threw dirt over his corpse.
August is just around the corner, and that means football season is upon us. For those who don’t live in SEC country, there is no way to describe the deep-rooted devotion to one’s team. All teams have their fans of varying degrees. SEC fans though, live and die with their teams. Our wardrobes, our home décor, and even our friends are shaped depending on which team we pull for. Affiliations run deep. Rivalries run deeper.
Thursday night I was standing in my kitchen hearing the news. The head coach of my team resigned due to moral issues. As the news spread, several friends reached out to me to express condolences; a few sent texts to gloat. What is the Christian response to all this?
This is not absolution for the man. That is between Freeze and his Savior. I am not trying to cover the sin he committed. The world, and far too many pastors, attempt to whitewash sin today. They rob Christ of His power when they do so. However, I also don’t feel the need to beat him down any farther than what he is now. He has dug a 1,000-foot hole for himself. In all likelihood, his career is over. His family, his wife, and his three daughters are now left with the rubble and a lot of hard days ahead. I’ll leave the stones to other folks.
Many have rushed to ask, “How could you do this?”
That is a valid question. One that we all tend to ask ourselves anytime someone falls. However, how many of us would want our whole lives put on display? What if your phone calls were made public? Your browser history? Those social media apps that promise anonymity?
Let me assure you, nothing is anonymous on the Internet. Anonymity only exists in the mind of the user. I wonder if all the folks throwing stones and accusations would volunteer to have a spotlight put on them? Probably not.
In 2014, Proven Men ministries, a nonprofit organization, conducted a national poll about Christian men and pornography. Some of the stats from the 18-30 age group:
• 77% percent look at pornography at least monthly
• 36% view pornography on a daily basis
• 32% admit to being addicted to pornography (and another 12% think they may be)
From the 31-49 age group (Freeze’s group):
• 77% look at porn while at work
• 64% view porn at least monthly
• 18% admit to being addicted to pornography (and another 8% think they may be)
This is inside the church, not outside it. These are people you know on a daily basis. We have a heart problem today. Christians have lost their loathing of sin. The “cheap grace” approach has weakened the men of Christ. Anytime you speak of sin, you are accused of judging someone, so no real struggle can ever be addressed.
What can be done? First, let’s stop playing church. Seriously. Let’s stop pretending everything is okay, smiling at each other, and saying “Have a good week. See you next Sunday.” That is the spiritual equivalent of saying “How are you? Fine.”
There is no heart behind that; no attempt to be the church; no attempt to fellowship with our brothers and offer a shoulder, counsel, or a swift kick in the rear if needed. The church spends so much time deliberating what is and is not sin, what we should do in “modern times” and what color the carpet should or should not be that we have missed the command to actually be the church.
Sin can happen over a long period of time. In 2nd Samuel 11, we see David fall prey to the same trap so many men have fallen into. He saw a beautiful woman. She happened to be bathing. His heart burned. Did David say whoops and walk away? Talk to a friend about unrequited desire? Consult the God he had loved his whole life? No, David sent for her and, overcome with desire, had sex with her.
Their dalliance led to a pregnancy. So David, in his attempt to cover his tracks, arranged for her husband to be killed. I heard it a different way growing up: tell one lie and you have to tell another, and then another, and keep it going.
I don’t say this as an Ole Miss fan, though I am, I say this as a Christian.
I am Hugh Freeze. I am a sinner caught in my sin. The world sees it. God sees it. I am condemned. Christ is a Savior. He sees my sin. He sees the sin of all those who are now casting stones at Freeze in the media. While He doesn't approve of what Freeze did, He still loved Him enough to die for him and would welcome him home if he would but turn towards Jesus. Same for me. Same for you.
I don’t agree with what Freeze did. Part of what made him so likable was his Christian faith, and that has taken a severe hit. Yet, I am guilty of a litany of sins and I would tremble if they were all made public. Instead of raking the man over the coals, maybe the best and the most Christ-like response I can have is to offer forgiveness in the face of so much sin. Maybe I could strive to offer to be the brother that so few men have nowadays, one who withholds judgment and admits that he struggles too.
I thought about Freeze Sunday morning. If he came into my church, what would my response be? Would I look down my nose at him, whispering under my breath, “What is he doing here?”
Or would I offer to go to the altar and pray with him? Would I admit that I too struggle with things in this life? Ask him to pray for me, as I do the same for him? Offer a safe harbor for what he is going through?
I pray that I am that type of Christian. Not one that accepts sin, but one who knows he is a sinner too. One that steps in front of those who would throw stones, admits that he too is a sinner, and offer solace for the one about to be stoned.
If so, I could truly say that I am a follower of Jesus.