Are They Just “Bad” Guys?

The news was all a-buzz this week with the story of ESPN Baseball Analyst Steve Phillips and the consequences he is encountering as a result of his admission of an affair with a young production assistant. Reports say that he has been fired from his job and is admitting himself to rehab for sexual addiction in an attempt to salvage what is left of his marriage and family.

The shock and dramatics of the newscasters as they unfurled the details of the story, reminded me, once again, of the pervasiveness of misinformation that abounds in relation to sexual addiction.

Like young children playing cops and robbers, our society habitually tries to categorize people as “good guys” and “bad guys”. On some level we believe that “good guys” always live uprightly, do good things and make good choices; “bad guys” are the ones that consistently make bad choices and demonstrate bad behaviors. It all seems very tidy, until we encounter someone we have determined as “good” doing something we think is “bad”. It messes up our sorting system and thrusts us into a state of confusion.

In recent years it seems like that something bad has often involved sexual behaviors—a much loved actor caught with a prostitute; a heroic policeman discovered with a huge stash of pornography; a married celebrity involved in an affair with a much younger co-worker. How can we wrap our heads around that? Are these people “good” or are they “bad”? We often believe there are only two choices—ALL good or ALL bad.

It is even more challenging when we are faced with this dilemma on a more personal level. How do we make sense of a leader in our church that admits to an ongoing struggle with pornography? What do we do when we find out that the man we’ve always thought was a good husband, father and provider has been cheating on us? Our brains scramble to try to sort it out. If they are capable of these things, then everything we perceived was good or admirable must have been a lie. Or is it?

The truth is, humans are much more complicated than that. There is a good/bad split in all of us. Good people make wrong choices and demonstrate bad behaviors; and those we might think are bad because of their behaviors, can excel and be above reproach in other areas of their life. No one is without sin.

The majority of people struggling with sexual addiction aren’t bad people. They are good people who discovered long ago that these activities helped distract them from hurt and fear in their lives. They are not hopelessly flawed or uniquely sinful—they just have old wounds that still need resolving.

1 Comment

  • Janet,
    Your spot on! I know we talked a little in your email about people with addiction and recovery. I didn’t wake up one day and say, “Gee, let me become an addicted gambler, drink alcohol to excess while I gamble and destroy my life”….Far from it! Others who “Think” or Say things like that most likely have not been touched by addiction. They call it “STIGMA”…and you and me and your hubby are trying to Educate and Shatter *Stigma* by just talking about these issues. So Thanks for all you both do for others! Hugs & Blessings, *Catherine* Xo 🙂

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