1 Corinthians 5:1 It is actually reported that there is sexual immorality among you, and of a kind that is not tolerated even among pagans…
It is almost unbelievable to me, looking back, to see the conduct I came to consider as normal when I was engaged in active addiction. Though it is horrific to me now, at the time, my toxic behavior was just routine. Some of the details, frankly are just too shameful for me to repeat. It is miserable to tell of how I once left church, withdrawing, just so I could go find some pills. I did not start out on day one pursuing drugs. It was a slow surrender to the destructive desires of my flesh. It was an incremental process that led me to behavior that I would now consider unfathomable.
Paradoxically, I remember, being offended by the sin of others even while I was using. Once, I stopped watching a certain television show as I felt it promoted a morality that offended my Christian convictions. Never mind that I am using drugs, that show is just offensive. It is not that I gave up on virtue and faith altogether. It is just that I came to accept my own caustic behavior as normal, even while remaining judgmental of others.
This is the condition which Paul addressed in today’s passage. Speaking to the church in Corinth, Paul chastised them for tolerating a prominent man in the church who was engaged in an incestuous relationship with his own mother or step-mother. Though this seems grotesque to us, it apparently was just a part of the scenery to the church of Corinth. We do not know the details that enabled such behavior, but as the man was a celebrated church leader, his debauchery was tolerated.
To this Paul said, What on Earth are you thinking? This is grotesque and you cannot tolerate it. How did you get here? How could you think this is normal? You know better…
I could be wrong, but I would be willing to bet that the same players who enabled and engaged in the incestuous relationship also condemned other behaviors with which they did not struggle. The church and probably this individual most likely took a firm stand on other issues, while engaged in horrific sin themselves.
This, of course, is the height of Christian hypocrisy. To presume to be a spiritual leader, while refusing to acknowledge my own addiction, is profound duplicity. It is not that I must wait to be perfect to serve God. I will never be perfect in this life. Paul insisted though, that I am not to normalize my destructive behavior. I must not allow myself to grow numb to disastrous behavior just because that is my particular struggle.
This is, inherently, part of my defectiveness, to grow tolerant of my own garbage. It requires brutal honesty and introspection to continually ask myself what toxic behavior I am tolerating in my life. Change is painful, so I avoid it. The normal life of a disciple though, as described by Christ, is to daily deny self so I can follow him. I am not to choose blindness to a defect, just because it is the one with which I struggle.