I miss the community belief that folks can pay their debt, overcome troubled pasts, even achieve good things as they work to make amends and demonstrate more goodness than most of us can muster without having to rise above public past mistakes. You see, as long as we keep our mistakes a secret, we hope to avoid the censure and perceptual judgement that our culture seems to embrace with such glee.
Of course, the problem is not new. King David wrote in old testament times, "Their only plan is to bring down a person of prominence. They take pleasure in falsehood; they bless with their mouths, but inwardly they curse." (Psalm 62:4)
Maybe the next time we hear of a scandal or possible scandal or a person of fame or a person of no fame getting into trouble, maybe, just maybe, we can think of their families and friends who did not make the choice, but must live with the aftermath. And maybe, just maybe, we can even offer a prayer that the person who has been "outed" can find, in the midst of shame and fear and chaos, an end to the temptations that brought their downfall, and a willingness to shout out to God who is with them even at the bottom, our God who is ready to restore that sinner too, through the Blood of His Son, to a life of purpose and servanthood.
And maybe, just maybe, we will remember that most of us have done something or harbored anger about something or been selfish about something that could have led down just such a path, but for a parent, a sibling, a friend, a spouse, a pastor, a counselor, a mentor who shone the light of truth to us, the light of grace to us and helped us make better choices in our lives.
In the words of one of my favorite worship leaders, "Amen. Thank you, Jesus!"