Wednesday, July 8, 2009

Who You Are When No One's Looking is Who You Are

"We should all live our lives as though there is no such thing as a secret." -- Ted Haggard, who knows something about living a double life

Bart Barber alerts us to a new Microsoft campaign that appears to solve the problem of wives discovering their husband's once secret p()rnographic Internet browsing history not by encouraging husbands to stop surfing p()rn but by creating software to help them hide it better. (Microsoft has since pulled the ad, but only because the video includes simulated vomiting, not because they thought it stupid to promote a feature that allows people to safely cyber-cheat on their spouses. (The video has other offensive content also, btw. Be warned.))

Barber writes:
What is Microsoft's solution to a depraved and perverted husband and a sickened wife? Will the folks at Redmond suggest that pornographic sites like the bleeped out URL given in the advertisement are inappropriate? Of course not. Their proposed solution is "InPrivate Browsing." Indulge the darker recesses of your heart, just learn to keep secrets better. Now THERE'S an approach that will strengthen the fabric of our society (not)!

Microsoft's slogan for Internet Explorer 8 is "Browse Better." How Orwellian that this slogan is actually an encouragement for people to browse worse!

This is not the first innovation in helping us maintain our private lives, which by the way, are our real lives.

This week retired NFL quarterback Steve McNair, one of my family's favorite athletes, was found shot to death from an apparent murder-suicide with his twenty year-old drug addict girlfriend, whom he was cheating on his wife of 12 years with. Most everyone was shocked, including people like my wife who thought he was sweet and nice, especially after she ran into him at a local eatery once and he gave her a hug and spent a minute chatting with her.

His friends and teammates have been saying things like, "This wasn't Steve." They're talking about the "real" Steve, the Steve who did charity work and gave the fabled 110% on the football field, as if this Steve, the Steve who maintained an adulterous, drug-addled relationship, was not real, or at least, not really him, but just a mistake he made, as if adultery is something you trip into or catch like a cold.

But the Steve McNair we didn't see was the real Steve McNair. The one he showed us was not. Or at least, it wasn't the fullness of him.

And who I am in the moments when I know I don't have to perform for anybody, the who I am in my heart and mind, what I'm thinking and feeling and wanting to do and what I'm doing when I don't think anybody will find out -- that is me. The real me.

We are not good people who make mistakes, none of us. We are sinners, always. We are sinners who need to repent.
So long as we think of the grossest parts of ourselves as "not really us," we will fail to respond to and wonder in the gospel. Because if the real us is already okay, we need no rescue.

This is why Jesus said lust is the same as physical adultery. This is why he said it's not what goes into us that defiles us but what comes out. This is why the Bible says man looks at the outside but God sees the heart. Because the self we present is not always our real self. But our character is, the quality of our heart is.

The gospel does not provide insurance for our mess-ups. It provides total transformation of our whole selves to the righteousness of God.

God made him who had no sin to be sin for us, so that in him we might become the righteousness of God.
-- 2 Corinthians 5:21


Daniel said...

Absolutely. "There is none good ..."

BTW, you say she was a drug addict and the relationship was a "drug-addled relationship." I know it's a minor quibble, but I've read a bunch of stuff on this and, aside from her claiming to be high when she was pulled over last week, where did you get this info?
This is not to take away anything from your excellent post, just wondering where you got this info.

Jared said...

Well, he's been pulled over for DUI more than once prior to this incident with her. And I assume that if you get pulled over while driving high on drugs you have a drug problem.

But I guess these could be isolated things. I admit I am making an assumption.

bif said...

Thanks, Jared. This is a good reminder of not only who those around me are, but myself as well. God making Jesus to be sin for us is truly good news, indeed!

-joe said...

This seems very similar to the "private" modes of Google's Chrome and Mozilla's Firefox. (Although they marketed it as a way to surf better in a public places because of the added security of not storing cookies.)

Just one more thing that now lies as a temptation online.


Bart Barber said...

Joe is right. The difference between IE8 and other browsers is not so much the functionality as it is the advertising campaign. But advertising campaigns matter.

Thanks for the link, by the way!

Philip said...

Your best post ever. :)

And here's why, the point about our "private selves" being our real selves, and how the belief that our public self is our real self is a lie and makes us think we don't need the gospel. And how we are not good people who "make mistakes".

All that was wonderful. The IE8 and Steve McNair references seem to be occupying the topics of discussion above (no offense to anyone)

But the real point here is timeless and we all need to hear it. Every day. I'm saving this one.

Nate said...

It brings to mind Plato's Ring of Gyges (invisibility):

"Suppose now that there were two such magic rings, and the just put on one of them and the unjust the other; no man can be imagined to be of such an iron nature that he would stand fast in justice. No man would keep his hands off what was not his own when he could safely take what he liked out of the market, or go into houses and lie with any one at his pleasure, or kill or release from prison whom he would, and in all respects be like a god among men. Then the actions of the just would be as the actions of the unjust; they would both come at last to the same point. — Plato's Republic, book 2 (Benjamin Jowett trans.)

Plato's answer was that the governing class would hold all things in common (i.e. no secrets).

God's answer is the regeneration of our depraved hearts.

Apparently Microsoft's answer is to hand out more rings...

Ken Stoll said...

...good post Jared. I couldn't get your message on freedom tonight for some reason but hope to hear it soon.

Yes, we all need rescue as you point out. Some of us realize it--but that by the grace of God too.

Yes, I think the filters that have been introduced and such devices designed to cut us off at the bridge if you will are good for those of us married and single (by choice---or by death or divorce).

Yes, Jesus set the bar higher than we like to remember when it comes to how offensive and how common adultery is (i.e. it's the heart he sees)--and having had committed actual adultery myself I can tell you that it is easier to fall into than I think you realize or acknowledge here and elsewhere in other posts of yours I have read.

And yes, our private lives are not always all that public. They (our "private lives" that is) are more telling than any other part of our lives for certain. Not a one of us is beyond doing what Steve McNair may have done--or what Charles Manson did for that matter. But for the grace of God there go we...

For me, I come back to the words of Thomas a Kempis often in his classic, "Inner Life"... "A true understanding and humble estimate of oneself is the highest and most valuable of lessons. To take no account of oneself, but to always think well and highly of others is the highest wisdom and
perfection. Should you see another person openly
doing evil, or carrying out a wicked purpose, do not
on that account consider yourself better than him, for you cannot tell how long you will remain in a state of grace. We all are frail; Consider none more frail than yourself."

I am also reminded of the words of Paul in Romans 5, "Therefore, since we have been justified by faith, we have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ. Through him we have also obtained access by faith into this grace in which we stand, and we rejoice in hope of the glory of God."

It's only by the grace of God we stand, we must never forget.

Your blog is the 1st one I read anymore.

Franklin said...

Jared, I don't comment here often but do enjoy your blog. I appreciate this post very much as it hits home with all of us. I do wonder though about the "real self" part.

Which was Paul's "real self" the one that did evil when he wanted to do good? Was that the real Paul or was it the one who delighted in the law of God "in the inner man".

You get my question? Paul, IMHO, seems to make a case (Rom. 7) that it is his FLESH that battles with his "real self" inner man IN CHRIST who delights in the law of God even when he does evil.

Just curious about your take on this or perhaps I'm misreading something (Paul or you!).

Jared said...

Franklin, thanks for commenting. Great question.

I think it's all our real self. Those in Christ are simultaneously saint and sinner. I think this is what Paul was getting at.
I lean heavily on Martin Luther for that perspective. It's the whole simul iustus et peccator (I had to look that up, b/c I'm terrible with Latin theological phrases, but I first encountered the view in something R.C. Sproul wrote).

Luther writes:
"The saints in being righteous are at the same time sinners; they are righteous because they believe in Christ whose righteousness covers them and is imputed to them, but they are sinners because they do not fulfill the law and are not without sinful desires."

That's pretty much where I'm at.

It's kind of eschatological, as well. The "already and not yet" of salvation. We are saved, but we are being saved. We are declared righteous, justified in Christ, but we are being progressively sanctified.

Hope that makes sense.