Subway’s Jared Fogle Bites the Big One
Many people were surprised by the news that Subway spokesperson Jared Fogle is scheduled to plead guilty in court on charges that he paid kids for sex and received child pornography. (Apparently he didn’t have access to Hillary Clinton’s tech experts to wipe his hard drive.) Jared seemed like such a nice young man, an inspiring guy who many Americans could relate to because of his struggle with weight. At least he’s coming clean about his bad decisions and owning the harm he’s done to others (and that’s huge in a world where people usually blame others when their bad behavior is uncovered). Oh how I long to see more Christian leaders who get caught in sin or bad behavior take full responsibility in public (without wavering over the long term) and caution their followers that there is no one else to blame. This would go a long way toward mitigating their damaged testimony and growing the faith of congregants who need confirmation that God is really at work in the lives of our leaders and the Christian life isn’t a sham. When we blame others for our mistakes, which incites division, well, that’s exactly how the world operates. But I digress.
What surprises me most is that the public still reacts with incredulity when these stories break about well-thought-of celebrities. For some twisted reason we continue to assume that those in the public eye are the same person in private. Yet by now we should know that human beings have a remarkable, and disturbing, capacity to live double lives. People who are completely the same in private as in public are rare creatures, if they exist at all.
History is filled with well-known people who appeared one way in public but lived completely different lives in private. Think John F. Kennedy and Richard Nixon. Several places in the Bible warn God’s people that God is not pleased when we live double lives, which is what the Bible calls having a divided mind. The recent story of Josh Duggar and his use of the Ashley Madison adultery website is a glittering example of what a divided mind looks like. (See: http://www.foxnews.com/entertainment/2015/08/20/josh-duggar-admits-to-being-unfaithful-having-porn-addiction/ ) One of the harshest Scriptures on this topic is found in Matthew 23:27-28 where Jesus says:
“Woe to you, teachers of the law and Pharisees, you hypocrites! You are like whitewashed tombs, which look beautiful on the outside but on the inside are full of the bones of the dead and everything unclean. In the same way, on the outside you appear to people as righteous but on the inside you are full of hypocrisy and wickedness.”
These verses were not directed solely at the Pharisees back in the day. They are also directed at us today. If that made you uncomfortable, 1 Corinthians 10:21 is even more discombobulating:
“You cannot drink the cup of the Lord and the cup of demons too; you cannot have a part in both the Lord’s table and the table of demons.”
Here’s the thing: We Christians are supposed to be the same in private as we are in public, the same with our coworkers as we are with our boss, the same with our spouse as we are with our neighbors, the same with fellow students as we are with our teachers. You get the idea—it’s pretty much impossible. At least it’s impossible unless we first admit we are living a double life and it does not please God. Then we need to ask God for help to be a genuine person in public and private. The whole process requires a great deal of honest soul-searching. If we close the gap between our public and private persona, we have a better testimony but we also feel more comfortable in our own skin. I don’t know if any human can completely close the gap between public and private life this side of heaven. But if the Christian life is real, the gap will continue to shrink throughout our life.