Yeah, its a little long, but I think there some really important things here to consider.
STAY with me to THE UGLY.
Hollywood mogul Mel Gibson’s recent drunken tirade against Jews was a stunner for most. The Semitic issues aside, I believe there are some much more important issues raised by it.
Jewish comedian Jackie Mason has more than ably defended Gibson from the charges of Antisemitism. As Mason says: A man gets drunk like that, and he curses his mother and his father – something he’d never do when sober. He gets into his car and drives it into a telephone pole, but did he REALLY want to kill himself? Its the booze. (A loose paraphrase from a radio interview I heard). Mason went on to point out that Gibson’s not been advocating violence against Jews; he hasn’t been violent toward Jews; from all reports hasn’t discriminated against Jews; and he has many close Jewish friends. Forget about. It was a drunken rant.
But as I said above, the Semitic issues aside, there are some really important lessons to be learned from this debacle.
First: THE GOOD.
RAF: If you haven’t seen it, Gibson’s apologies have been absolute studies in taking personal responsibility without excuses. Many a Christian needs to observe the level of contrition and lack of attempts to mitigate his guilt. This is precisely how we are to apologize to one another, and how we are to make our confessions to God for our sins. Bluntly. Clearly. No “buts”. No “if only”s. Just plain – I did it. It was wrong. No excuses. I’m sorry. Please forgive me. Oh how I wish more of us would see the value in such an approach. I do not know if he intended to follow some Biblical concept in it or not – but Biblical it is. It follows the pattern of the Prodigal son. It is worthy of note.
Here is the text of one such apology from Gibson I read. It is worth emulating.
“There is no excuse, nor should there be any tolerance, for anyone who thinks or expresses any kind of anti-Semitic remark. I want to apologize specifically to everyone in the Jewish community for the vitriolic and harmful words that I said to a law enforcement officer the night I was arrested on a DUI charge.
I am a public person, and when I say something, either articulated and thought out, or blurted out in a moment of insanity, my words carry weight in the public arena. As a result, I must assume personal responsibility for my words and apologize directly to those who have been hurt and offended by those words.
The tenets of what I profess to believe necessitate that I exercise charity and tolerance as a way of life. Every human being is God’s child, and if I wish to honor my God I have to honor his children. But please know from my heart that I am not an anti-Semite. I am not a bigot. Hatred of any kind goes against my faith.
I’m not just asking for forgiveness. I would like to take it one step further, and meet with leaders in the Jewish community, with whom I can have a one on one discussion to discern the appropriate path for healing.
I have begun an ongoing program of recovery and what I am now realizing is that I cannot do it alone. I am in the process of understanding where those vicious words came from during that drunken display, and I am asking the Jewish community, whom I have personally offended, to help me on my journey through recovery. Again, I am reaching out to the Jewish community for its help. I know there will be many in that community who will want nothing to do with me, and that would be understandable. But I pray that that door is not forever closed.
This is not about a film. Nor is it about artistic license. This is about real life and recognizing the consequences hurtful words can have. It’s about existing in harmony in a world that seems to have gone mad. – Taken from CNN’s website – Aug. 1, 2006
RAF: This is truly excellent.
Second: THE BAD – Let me quote from the LA Times – Aug. 4, 2006
“If they had, they would have done everything to stop it — because though conventional wisdom says that Gibson has been sober since the early ’90s, some of those close to him acknowledge that he has been on and off the wagon for years.
“I have been with Mel when he has fallen off,” says producer Dean Devlin, who had spent the afternoon before the arrest with Gibson, “and he becomes a completely different person. It is pretty horrifying.”
And horrified is exactly how Devlin and many of Gibson’s friends felt when they heard that the actor-director, in the course of his arrest for drunk driving, made sexist and anti-Semitic remarks, including one that quickly became infamous: “Jews are responsible for all the wars in the world.” Gibson has since been charged with two misdemeanor counts of driving under the influence of alcohol.
Devlin and Tom Sherak, a partner at Revolution Studios who once headed distribution at 20th Century Fox, had spent last Thursday afternoon screening Devlin’s upcoming film “Flyboys” for Gibson, and Gibson seemed very much himself.
“We were kidding around, talking about our kids, he was very friendly,” said Sherak, who met Gibson while working on “Braveheart.” Gibson, he added, had a trailer of his new film, “Apocalypto,” that he was very excited about. “We talked about the shoot and he was just very upbeat, not stressed out at all.”
Said Devlin: “I consider Mel one of my best friends in Hollywood.” Devlin met Gibson while co-producing “The Patriot,” in which Gibson starred.
“The day this happened, my wife had gotten this long letter from Mel full of congratulations [for the birth of the Devlins’ first child] and talking about the joys of being a parent,” Devlin said. “She’s Jewish. I’m Jewish. If Mel is an anti-Semite, then he spends a lot of time with us, which makes no sense. But he is an alcoholic, and while that makes no excuse for what he said, because there is no excuse, I believe it was the disease speaking, not the man.”
His sentiments were shared by longtime Gibson friend Jodie Foster, who, upon hearing the news while on the New York set of her new film, refused to believe it.
“Someone told me what had happened, and I said, ‘That is just so not true,’ ” she said. When it was confirmed, Foster said, she was stricken with deep sadness that a man she considers “one of the nicest, most honest men I have ever met” had taken such a fall. Although she and Gibson speak regularly, Foster had no idea he was drinking again.
“Is he an anti-Semite? Absolutely not,” Foster said. “But it’s no secret that he has always fought a terrible battle with alcoholism. I just wish I had been there, that I had been able to say, ‘Don’t do it. Don’t take that drink.’ ”
Like Devlin, she does not believe that drunkenness excuses hurtful remarks, but she bristles at accusations in the media that Gibson is using his alcoholism as a “get out of jail free” card from charges of anti-Semitism.
“It is a horrible disease, and it affects everyone differently,” Foster said. “I do not have personal experience with addiction, but I have seen it take many paths in people I know. For some, it is a soft slide off the barstool, and some experience true psychotic episodes.”
She points to friends Christian Slater — who has had many drunken run-ins with the law, including a 1997 scuffle with a police officer after allegedly hitting his girlfriend — and Robert Downey Jr. as examples of the personality-changing effects that drinking can have on the alcoholic.
“Would I have believed Christian Slater, who is the nicest, gentlest man in the world, would hit a woman? No,” Foster said. “Or Downey, you cannot find anyone in the film business who does not love Downey, and look at some of his exploits.”
“Mel is honest, loyal, kind,” she said, “but alcoholism has been a lifelong struggle for him and his family.” (The actor and his wife, Robyn, have been married for 26 years and have seven children.)
Said Sherak: “Here is this major celebrity who has been involved in so many things. There are so many sides of him, you have to wonder where something like this comes from.”
RAF: I won’t over stress this point, I will point mainly to Scripture. This is WHY we read in Ephesians 5:18 “And do not get drunk with wine, for that is debauchery, but be filled with the Spirit.” No, Scripture does not prohibit drinking. But “Wine IS a mocker, strong drink a brawler, and whoever is led astray by it is not wise.” (Prov. 20:1 – Emphasis mine) Do not, beloved, give any more place to your flesh than it already has. Do not put yourself in the position where you lose even the natural inhibitions God has given you so that sin has its way. Watch this portal with all diligence. Drinking is not a sin. Drunkenness is. And when you lose restraint under the influence of such things, you invite sin to take a dominant role.
Third: THE UGLY. Three sentences from the above article – “”I have been with Mel when he has fallen off,” says producer Dean Devlin, who had spent the afternoon before the arrest with Gibson, “and he becomes a completely different person. It is pretty horrifying.” “But he is an alcoholic, and while that makes no excuse for what he said, because there is no excuse, I believe it was the disease speaking, not the man.”
RAF: No, Gibson did not become a different person – the real sinfulness of Gibson came out, unguarded. Diseases cannot speak – out of the abundance of the heart, the mouth speaks. Too much alcohol just diminishes the capacity to keep the sentiments of the heart reigned in and more acceptable. I do not know Gibson’s spiritual status before God’s throne. But saved or unsaved, everyone of us still has to reckon with the remnants of indwelling sin.
This is the ugly news about indwelling sin. Even the flesh can keep our real feelings and thoughts from blurting out inappropriately, but age, physical weakness, or sometimes alcohol or drugs remove our normal inhibitions. Then the REAL us does come out. Given up to this other influence, we lose the capacity to restrain sin. We invite it to reign, and facilitate its ascension.
We might use this as a wake up call to so many Christians who have not truly dealt with certain sins in their lives, but merely buried the expressions of it. Someday – often when one grows old and the energy to subdue those unrighteous thoughts and opinions wanes, unmortified sin rises to the surface.
Many an aged saint has become cranky and ill-tempered, unseemly, surly and irascible under these conditions. Nor are we to ignore outbursts of sin because they are “senior” saints. Godliness is to increase with age, not decrease. When it does not, this ought to be a red flag that something spiritual is seriously wrong. It is not to be dismissed, ignored or brushed under the rug.
Just recently, after undergoing several very high pressure weeks, most with little or no time off at all, I found myself getting irritable and snapping at others. Growing inordinately perturbed over frustrations. Yes, I needed sleep. But my sinful expressions were not a matter of a loss of sleep – only there emergence was. The sin I could normally cover up – instead of actually bringing before God to submit to His Spirit – was now rising to the surface as I lacked the wherewithal to suppress it. And that mind you is a sinful, fleshly suppression, NOT true sanctification.
I wonder – are you there too?
We might use this too as a wake up call for those who are older or undergoing serious physical or life strains. Are these simply exposing an unregenerate heart? Have you been able so far to wear the Christian mask? To play the consummate hypocrite? To fool everyone, even yourself that you are born again? But is the truth, as soon as the energy to play the role fades, as soon as your resources are channeled to grapple with other things – the sin-governed soul which you’ve kept so carefully hidden making itself finally known?
Someday, you WILL be exposed. I pray its not too late.
Hear me carefully, I am not saying because a person responds sinfully to a difficult situation that somehow that automatically means they are not saved. I am saying that sinful responses under pressure ARE a signal that we need to examine our hearts where they are more exposed – to find out who or what we are really trusting in. We need to bring the exposed sin to the Cross, and stop merely suppressing it by human means. As I mentioned above, even saved people may be using fleshly techniques to repress sinful responses we know are unacceptable, all the while leaving the underlying sinful issues untouched, unchallenged and unsubmitted to God. Is that you? Or is the truth, that the pressure – the heat of the sun and the scorching wind – finally shown you to be one who has not root in reality? The questions must be asked. Your soul is at stake.
Mel’s outburst may be the result of a regenerate soul given up to inhibition reducing alcohol and giving way to the remnant of indwelling sin – bringing shame and reproach on the name of His Savior. Or, Mel’s outburst may be the result of an unregenerate soul given up to inhibition reducing alcohol and exposing the real dominating filth that governs him.
Either way – its ugly. And it serves to give us all pause to think.