It’s old news now. If you haven’t heard about Mel Gibson’s alleged tirade (more like demonic verbal assault) against his ex-girlfriend, you haven’t been reading the paper or internet or listening to radio or television. Mel’s obscenity-laden insults have gone “viral” (in the parlance of the internet world).
I have a confession to make: I listened to some of his angry rant--and I was sorry. It was riveting in a twisted kind of way. Like when you crane your neck to look at an accident or see a dead animal on the side of the road. It was pathetic, disgusting, and sad.
Equally riveting were the comments from Mel’s fans (former fans), and people who have never given a rip about him. (In the interest of full disclosure, I could be counted as a former fan.) Heck, I probably still am a fan in some sentimental sense. I’d like to see him humble himself and come out of this a better man, especially for the sake of his children and grandchildren. Maybe it’s too much to hope that he will experience some redemption after all this, but it got me to thinking of how Mel Gibson’s sin isn’t much different from my own (or anyone else’s, for that matter).
That’s why I found it so interesting to read and hear what people had to say about Mel’s latest diatribe. It’s clear from reading people’s remarks that most people consider him something of a pariah now. Racist, misogynist, bigot, abuser.
Now, I don’t consider myself any of those aforementioned things and most people I know don’t consider themselves those things, either. When I heard the invective coming out of Mel’s mouth (er—allegedly coming from Mel’s mouth), I thought, “Well, there’s verbal confirmation of what is in his heart.” I thought the same thing when he was caught making anti-Semitic remarks back in 2006. My opinion is shaped by belief in the Scripture that says, “For as a man thinks in his heart, so is he.” (Proverbs 23:7)
It’s pretty hard to hide what’s in your heart. Many of us are skilled at hiding what’s in our heart on an everyday basis--for purposes of political correctness or simply trying to get along in life (it’s called “emotional intelligence”). But when we’re pushed to the breaking point, what’s in our heart spills out. So it was with Mel.
And that makes me sad. Why? Because I heard a man whose heart is imprisoned in the demonic realm—his words betrayed a caged soul snarling and gnashing its teeth at the common enemy of us all.
I know, I know—sounds so melodramatic. But I do believe that we are all in the same predicament if we’re only able to see it. Every time we criticize, every time we lie, cheat (in a million small ways that we all rationalize), shake our fist and swear at the guy who cut us off in traffic, steal, think bad thoughts—even about someone we love—we choose to put ourselves in the realm of evil. We repudiate all that is good and, in an ever downward spiral, if we’re not careful to tend to our heart, we end up where Mel is. You could say that the only thing separating our sin from Mel’s is a matter of degree.
I have never been comfortable with the crowd that hurls insults and kicks a person when they are down, even when it’s a person—a political figure or otherwise—that I have distaste for. Something makes me cringe when I see the crowd outside prison walls rejoicing over the execution of a prisoner. Even if I support capital punishment, the tragedy of a life lived badly and ending in an execution should not be lost on any of us. There, but for the grace of God--go I.
So it is with my discomfort in casting stones at Mel Gibson. Yes, his words should be repudiated and he should be held accountable for his actions, no doubt about that. The motivation and end result should be to see healing and reconciliation for Mel and the people who surround him. But we need to be careful that, in the process of watching from the sidelines, we don’t blind ourselves to the million small ways that our own hearts are deceitful and desperately wicked. If anything, maybe we can learn a lesson from Mel Gibson’s sin. Given full reign, this is where our “small” sins will lead us.