There have been many evangelical and political leaders who have recently had their private lives exposed in ways that brought utter destruction upon them, their families and their careers. The double life delivers much destruction – it has a perfect record. It may take time, but the double life always chews up and spits out its followers.
I refuse to bash such men. Any of us, but for God’s grace, could go down the same road they have traveled. In fact, many of us have traveled Double Life Highway before – we know its’ pain. It is not for us to condemn others for our own actions are condemnable. We know not to judge.
My concern is for those of us who may be traveling Double Life Highway right this moment. I say ‘us’ because those who are on such a path don’t present themselves as deceptive – they often present themselves as happy, healthy and functional people: just like you and me. For this reason, I never assume I am speaking to someone ‘out there.’ Most people I’ve met who are on Double Life Highway are not ‘out there’ – they are ‘in here’…among us. No wonder we are so shocked when their other life is unveiled.
Jesus cautions us, Be on your guard against the yeast of the Pharisees, which is hypocrisy. There is nothing concealed that will not be disclosed, or hidden that will not be made known. What you have said in the dark will be heard in the daylight, and what you have whispered in the ear in the inner rooms will be proclaimed from the roofs. (Luke 12:1-3) To be sure, every double life activity will ultimately be unveiled and exposed to the light. Christ does not lie…
Somehow, though, it’s too easy to look at these well-known (or extreme) cases and dismiss the real risk we are exposed to in our own lives. You see, there are different expressions of the double life. Some double lives are horrendous in the graphic details they contain: prostitution, rape, abuse, theft, and worse. But other expressions of the double life contain seemingly menial details. Seemingly menial…
- Our private lust addiction seems menial until it gives birth to adultery; or until it causes us to withdraw from intimate and emotional love with our spouse.
- Our private pornography addiction seems menial until our sons follow us into it; or until we find ourselves responding to the personal ad of one looking for a sexual tryst.
- Our private lunches with ‘a friend’ seem menial until we realize we have roamed back to our teenage years and developed a crush on this other married person.
- Our private anger seems menial until we realize that our children flinch at our every move.
- Our love of money seems menial until we get our credit card statement or suddenly realize we’ve gambled away our family’s nest egg.
- Our drinking seems menial until we find we cannot cope with life unless we drink.
When speaking of Double Life Highway, I am cautious about two false assumptions that we often bring to the table: one, we assume that a discussion like this one is about other people instead of us; and two, we assume that the double life always has to do with sex. This simply isn’t the case.
To illustrate this, I’ll have to expose a story of my own making. Last year, my wife and I got into a ‘discussion’ – it was a little more than that as you might imagine. I said things. She said things. At the end of our argument, I made an internal vow. I did not intend to – it just seemed to present itself in the midst of my frustration. I whispered to my soul, That’s it. I won’t let her see the inside of me again.
Now before you think that I am the victim, let me be clear: in our arguments, I am usually the culprit! Whoever started this particular argument, it ended with my wife saying something – likely in reaction to something I said! I walked away bitter and angry. Out came the vow…
Internal vows are seemingly harmless. In fact, they might even appear to protect us. That is far from the truth. Six months after this argument, I had a dramatic wake-up call. I was out running when all of a sudden I instantly became aware that I had shut off my heart to my wife months earlier. I was not committing any particular sin – I had simply become distant. In this moment of realization, I once again saw the danger of running down Double Life Highway. It ever so naturally crept into my heart, and it ever so slowly destroyed intimacy between my wife and I.
When I returned home from my run, I immediately confessed this vow to my wife and apologized for the distance that “I” had created between us. We talked a long time and something dramatic happened: all the power that fueled the disconnection between us instantly leaked out of my soul. I was once again free, fully known by my wife and in love with her. Is it any wonder the Bible says not to allow the sun to go down on our anger – holding onto anger can become an entrance ramp onto Double Life Highway.
This experience made me realize that most marriages do not collapse because of the BIG stuff that often accompanies double lives; most marriages collapse because of the accumulation of very TINY things that create a wedge in which the double life is born – a double life that multiplies distance within a marriage until it is destroyed. I’ll say it again – the double life delivers but it does so in the worst way possible.
If something as small as an argument can draw us into the double life, then imagine the power that private lust or pornography or adultery or prostitution has to draw so many into a deep life of self-deception, denial and double living. I cannot emphasize just how powerful the double life is – it forcefully compels us to go deeper and deeper into destruction for as long as we are willing to be its follower. Ultimately, it will take us all the way down to complete destruction.
Sin begets sin which begets more and more sin. At some point, we can no longer look at the reality of our sin so we have to push it down and deny it. But that energy (so to speak) must go somewhere and you can be sure it does. It gets pressed into our soul in the form of anxiety. We can no longer cope with our addictive or secretive state of being; we crave an escape. This often leads us to act out in more risky ways or to take drugs or consume alcohol to dull our pain.
It is in this medicating stage that we numb our very soul. The deception of the double life is that the outside looks all shiny. We perform at a very high level – in fact, we perform so highly precisely because performance (or work) becomes yet another way to escape or medicate our pain. The time it takes to perform highly helps distance us from those we are hurting so that we do not have to be confronted by our great deception and the horrific pain it causes.
I know enough of this formula from my own life. I know it also from watching others go through the recovery process. Time and time again, I have witnessed the devastating consequences flowing from Double Life Highway. So many wasted years away from the life God desires for us.
At this point, I want to importantly note that Double Life Highway does not only attract those who sin. It also attracts those who have been sinned against: those who have been abused or raped or battered or neglected. It attracts those who struggle with anxiety, depression, doubts, fears and worries flowing out of the wounds others have inflicted upon us. Sometimes, it seems easier and more comfortable to just hide our pain because we have learned that others don’t understand us; or else they put us in some ‘box.’ This too can lead to many wasted years away from the abundant life God desires us to have.
The pain of wasted years would be too much to bear if it were not for the real possibility we have to recapture those years. The surprisingly good news is that we can get those years back. God promises that HE will restore the years that locusts have eaten. (Joel 2:25) We cannot afford to lose sight of the reality that it is never too late to be rescued! We have a God who is in the business of doing just that…
Jesus redeems us and brings our darkness into HIS Light crushing the power of that darkness until it is driven out of our soul. I know many people who – after living years in a double life – are now experiencing freedom, joy, peace, and reconciliation in their most valued relationships. They have stepped out of darkness into the Light of Christ. There is always hope for each one of us…
What about you? Are there areas of your life that are duplicitous, secretive or hidden? Maybe that darkness is some gruesome sin. Maybe is it some deep wound others have inflicted upon you. Maybe it is simply the minor grievances that multiply and divide us from those we love.
Guess what: we don’t have to stay on Double Life Highway. There is another way. Right this moment, Jesus is asking each one of us a very simple question: Do you want to get well? I don’t know what your answer will be. But as for me, I can only say, Yes Lord, I do want to get well. But I don’t know how. And I’m scared. Will You give me courage and show me the way?
We need courage to accept God’s invitation to take the next exit off Double Life Highway. Casting Crowns sings of such courage in their beautiful song, Voice of Truth. Listen to these words:
Oh what I would do to have
The kind of faith it takes
To climb out of this boat I’m in
On to the crashing waves
To step out of my comfort zone
Into the realm of the unknown where Jesus is
And He’s holding out His hand
But the waves are calling out my name
And they laugh at me
Reminding me of all the times
I’ve tried before and failed
The waves they keep on telling me
Time and time again, “Boy, you’ll never win!”
“You’ll never win!”
Can you relate to that? I sure can. Every time I garner the courage to face some hurt or some sin that is wreaking havoc in my life, I seem to hear these whispers of defeat. I find myself wanting to give up or give in. Listen to the chorus from Voice of Truth:
But the Voice of Truth tells me a different story
The Voice of Truth says, “Do not be afraid!”
The Voice of Truth says, “This is for MY glory.”
Out of all the voices calling out to me
I will choose to listen and believe the Voice of Truth.
I do want to get better. I know you do too. The good news is that God’s Voice of Truth is saying that HE will give us courage and HE will show us the way. We can count on it!
Throughout this series, we will be looking at the process of overcoming our brokenness. If you are hungry to gain freedom, joy, peace and purpose while being reconciled to God and those you care most about, I invite you to meet me at the next exit ramp leading off Double Life Highway. We are going to uncover our brokenness so that we can find a New Path forward.
Join me…click here to easily navigate to Part 2.