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  • Writer's pictureW. Austin Gardner

Moral Failure

And among those would be one that would probably catch your eye the fastest: moral failure. The term arouses a lot of natural curiosity and not a little apprehension. The mind wonders: What happened? Why? How was it discovered? What has happened to the people involved? Could this happen to me?

The term moral failure covers a broad spectrum of tragic conduct. Someone has acknowledged an attraction to pornography; another is discovered to have engaged in an improper relationship (with either gender); still a third is found to have a history of some kind of molestation. Is this list large enough?

Given Jesus’ sweeping definition of adultery (the intents of the heart), I suppose we are all moral failures in one way or another. Murderers, too. Some in Christian leadership go beyond the intents of the heart and act them out. Almost every time, an unspeakable heartbreak ripples out into many lives. Beyond that, there is always disillusionment, scorn, and the loss of trust that accompanies such sin. Sins of the flesh are destructive and usually result in a DNF.

As much as I dislike the term moral failure, I am going to stick with it here. And I’m going to stipulate right now that moral failure is inexcusable, destructive, shameful, a matter of disgrace, and downright sinful. I think most of us would agree.

Of all the things I have written, this subject is the most difficult—one I would like to have avoided—because I know too much. Years ago, I was guilty of moral failure, and, along with my wife, I have talked to many others who were as well. I can tell you that the issue and its causes and solutions cannot be adequately addressed in a matter of a few thousand words. One can only scratch the surface. Every situation is unique; every situation has to be dealt with differently.

Gordon MacDonald, Building Below the Waterline

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