Sadly, it seems, there is less accountability at the top — even for those who seek it out. Surrounded by a horde of “yes” people, the need for correction gets lost and the path toward healing becomes increasingly difficult to walk. But that doesn’t mean it’s impossible nor does it make it any less important.
In fact, it’s all the more important for those who are in places of authority, like comedian John Crist, to step out and lead the way in their own healing by standing up and owning their errors, acknowledging their shortcomings and wrongdoings, because by doing so — by walking in humble submission — they are really leading the charge toward reconciliation, toward redemption, which is the steady drumbeat of the Gospel, the heartbeat of God as seen from Genesis to Revelation.
I don’t know John personally, but his admission of “destructive and sinful” behavior (engaging in sexually charged relationships with women, both in person and via text message) seems genuine. He acknowledged in his statement to Charisma the ways he’s “sinned against God, against women and the people who I love the most” and owned up to the fact he’s “violated my own Christian beliefs, convictions and values, and have hurt many people in the process.” He is far from alone in struggling with sexual sin, but he does have a prominent platform, so his behavior — and how he seeks to reconcile his missteps — will be seen by a lot of people.
John’s decision to cancel future tour dates to focus on finding healing, redemption, and restoration is the right one. While he is not a pastor, John’s status as a well-known Christian comedian who has amassed quite a following does come with a greater level of spiritual responsibility. In James 3:1, the apostle wrote, “Not many of you should become teachers in the church, for we who teach will be judged more strictly.” John’s statement as well as the steps he’s already taking — and has taken in the past — show he understands the weight of his position and suggests he knows there cannot be healing without confession.
In James 5:16, it’s written, “Confess your sins to each other and pray for each other so that you may be healed. The earnest prayer of a righteous person has great power and produces wonderful results.”
While we may be sad to see yet another person we admire fall, this is a good opportunity for us to remember the fragility of the human heart, the deceptiveness of our own natures, and the need for transparency, vulnerability, and humility. It’s also a timely reminder that this kind of mistreatment is all too common in our society, in the church. When men and women, boys and girls speak up about how they’ve been mistreated, harassed, or abused, Bible-believing Christians need to stop, listen, and make space for their stories, because they matter, and true restoration is born only out of accountability and understanding.
Those involved in this — John as well as the women he mistreated — don’t need our hate or our shame. Instead, they need loving rebuke and tender understanding, they need care and grace. This is not the end of the road for those who put their trust in the Gospel. Anyone who truly believes in the power of the Good News cannot at the same time write anyone off. So instead of badmouthing, shaming, or pitying those involved in this, stop and pray: pray for healing, pray for reconciliation, pray for redemption. Pray now and over again that the Gospel will be done in John’s life and in the lives of those impacted by his mistakes.
Our ongoing cultural reckoning with sexual sin is as important as it is difficult. Every one of us is human and imperfect. Our sins are big and our mistakes often messy, but the Gospel — the blood of Jesus who died on the cross and rose again three days later — is big enough, bold enough, and loving enough to pay the price for all of it. I’ve been heartened by the grace-filled response so far to this situation, and I hope it’s a sign of things to come.
If you are battling sexual sin, Faithwire has a seven-week video course, Set Free, that might be for you. It’s not a cure-all that will take away your struggle, but it will give you the tools necessary to find healing and it can help you navigate the long and winding road to recovery.