Posted on December 14, 2009


When the wrongdoing of the famous is exposed, their fall (and fall-out) is precipitous. The bubble bursts and the whole world hears all the details (whether true or false) and there is no place or no way to hide.

Poetic justice perhaps. “They get what they deserve,” many will say.

Society places too much stock on a few at the top of their trade, skill or achievement. My life does not revolve around the famous. Fortunately, I am at the stage of life when my propensity to idolize other human beings (or my own self) is much lessened. Better to limit people’s achievements to one or two things they do very well in without stretching our imagination about them to go beyond their acting or sporting or oratorial skills and build for them an aura of moral goodness and a squeaky clean image.

Leave this to their publicists and those who build their brand-names around them.

For us common people, a greater danger lurks. Those of us who are quick to hero-worship others are even quicker to throw the first stone at them. But our fury about the wrong-doing and indecency of others may have the effect of hiding our own sins from others (and worse still, from our own selves).

In our vociferous tirade or thought against the wrongs of others, we may often miss the point of our own vulnerability and weakness.

This is not to say that we should suspend or silence our critical faculty concerning issues of importance to human society and justice. Wrong must still be exposed, addressed and remedied and victims of wrong must have compensation and must be cared for.

But sin is not just what others do but is very much a part of my own self and life too. My criticism of the wrongs of others cannot and must not excuse my own wrongdoing. The person whose sins are now before the entire world (and his sponsors) is not the only sinner in the universe. By no means. He has many fellow sinners, myself included.

Young seminarians (those studying to be priests and pastors) were shocked when once during their chapel service I said loud and clear to them that I saw myself as capable of any manner of wrongdoing, that I was capable of stealing, lying, cheating, infidelity, violence, etc. and etc. I said that my starting point (and hopefully theirs too) was how weak I myself was (and still is) and how dependent I was on God’s truth, wisdom, guidance and protection.

To my Christian brothers and sisters, I say: Sin is not just out there where the publicans and sinners are. Sin is within the church fellowship too where church-goers have been known to beat up and torture their household help, priests have been known to abuse the very children under their care, we can be bad employees or employers, and undemocratic leaders have been known to … As human beings we are not necessarily better than those we are quick to judge.

God alone is good and without sin.

We do well to reflect on these words of Jesus:

Matthew 7.1 “Do not judge, or you too will be judged. 2 For in the same way you judge others, you will be judged, and with the measure you use, it will be measured to you. 3 “Why do you look at the speck of sawdust in your brother’s eye and pay no attention to the plank in your own eye? 4 How can you say to your brother, ‘Let me take the speck out of your eye,’ when all the time there is a plank in your own eye? 5 You hypocrite, first take the plank out of your own eye, and then you will see clearly to remove the speck from your brother’s eye.

Matthew 15:19 “For out of the heart come evil thoughts, murder, adultery, sexual immorality, theft, false testimony, slander.”

Posted in: Perspective