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Worse than Me

Worse than Me

And you shall not lie with any animal and so make yourself unclean with it, neither shall any woman give herself to an animal to lie with it: it is perversion. Leviticus 18:23

While addicted to opioids, I hated who I was and what I was doing. Even then though, I could find some comfort in looking down on those who were worse than me. I didn’t use IV drugs and I wasn’t homeless. At least I held down a job and provided for my family – until I lost that job. When I lost my job and went to treatment, I was surrounded by those who’d been incarcerated, and again, that allowed me to feel superior. Looking down on others didn’t help me in any way though. In fact, indulging in my condescending pride compounded my life failures, but it made me feel better in the moment.

As a Christian, it’s easy to read my Bible and focus on all the sins I don’t struggle with, while ignoring my own. Focusing on the failures of others is always a tempting distraction from my own failures. In today’s passage, for example, God provided a long list of rules governing the sexual behavior of the Israelites – They weren’t to engage in adultery, incest, or bestiality. It’s easy to look at that list and think quite highly of myself. I’ve never done any of those things. I’m quite the Christian. I may find satisfaction in looking down on those who do such things, and I might even go so far as to support a political agenda that outlaws such behavior.

I don’t think I’m alone here. As Christians, we’re often tempted to look down on the sins we don’t struggle with, while ignoring our own. This is certainly the case with today’s passage, which lists many sexual sins with which most of us don’t struggle. The problem, however, is that Christ later came along and pronounced that anyone who lusts after another woman has committed adultery in his heart (Matthew 5:28). Suddenly pornography is included in this list of condemned behaviors. Most of the men in church on Sunday morning don’t struggle with incestuous relationships, but surveys show that most of those same men regularly indulge in pornography, thereby committing adultery according to Christ’s standard.

As followers of Christ, our priority isn’t to address the sins of others, with which we don’t struggle. Our priority is to follow Christ ourselves, abandoning our own self-destructive behavior. If we want to change the world for the better, we don’t do it by telling others how to live, while indulging in our own sin. Rather, we change our corner of the world by abandoning our way, following Christ, and loving those around us. Focusing on the failures of others, while ignoring our own, only compounds our failure.

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