From Adam Greene’s blog Pillars Are Just Crutches comes this quote:

There is nothing that will destroy a man more quietly than shame.

There is nothing that a man will avoid more than shame.

Unfortunately, that seems to be the source of Mike Guglielmucci’s fall….. And in a Christian culture where there is a lot of shame attached to sexual sin, and especially pornography, that shame is more of a stumbling block to healing than the actual sin itself (emphasis mine).

There is something particularly powerful that a lot of Christians do not do. Maybe because they think it’s Catholic, maybe because they think that it’s between them and God, maybe because they’re ashamed to do it so they use the other 2 excuses. Christians do not confess things to each other.

I’m not talking about confessing to anyone. It should be someone you completely trust and someone who is godly and mature. It may be a good friend or a pastor, or an elder in your church, ask someone. Nothing will kill shame faster like confessing it to a godly person, asking God for forgiveness and then praying together.

Therefore confess your sins to one another, and pray for one another, so that you may be healed. The prayer of the righteous is powerful and effective. (James 5:1)

There is therefore now no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus. (Rom. 8:1)

I agree with this post wholeheartedly. The tragedy here is that Mike G. evidently never found anyone that he could trust with his secret. Here are the thoughts I have on the topic, since I am a worship leader, and since I research shame for a living.


The internet has been buzzing about Mike G.’s confession, and the comments seem to fall into the following categories:

1) How could Mike G. do this? Is he mentally ill? Demonized? A false prophet? A monster of hypocrisy?

2) How did he conceal it for so long from his family and leadership? How could anyone not know, especially in a denomination that believes in spiritual gifts such as words of knowledge? Is the church responsible in any way for what happened?

3) How do we respond to Mike? Do we disavow him? He has caused many to stumble.

4) What about the song Healer? Is it from God? Is it “tainted?” Should it continue to be sung?

I’ll try to take them in order.

1) God is obviously working in the situation. I do believe Mike G. is deeply sinful, deeply ashamed, and deeply wounded. I also believe he has been deeply tormented by the situation. Looking at porn definitely gives the enemy a foothold in your life; so while he might not be “demonized” he has certainly been influenced. He may also have a mental illness: his behavior has all the earmarks. But much of his struggle can be explained by shame. If he began to struggle with an addiction to porn at age 12, he may have been too deeply ashamed to confess it to anyone. His father is the pastor of a very large and successful AOG church. No doubt Mike did not want to disappoint his family, or let them down, or bring shame upon them (I am not saying that this is what his family/church would have felt. I am saying that this is what Mike could have feared, given his 12-year-old perspective). And he may have also felt that the church was an extension of his father, so he could not confess to anyone there either. But secrecy and shame are the engines that drive addictive and obsessive behavior. So he struggled with it alone; he would sin, confess it to God, resist for a while, and fall again, and hate himself more and more – and wonder why God was not healing him. He was expected to minister, and he perhaps embraced ministry as a way to feel better about himself. He may have deeply believed all he preached about. This would only make his secret failure more tormenting. Over time he would have become more and more disturbed. I’m not a psychologist, so I can’t really explain the entire mechanism. But I think the important thing is that he went for years and years without confessing to anyone (besides God) what was happening. This is the key point we need to understand. Confessing to God is not enough. We need to confess to one another in order to be healed. “Confess your sins to each other and pray for each other so that you may be healed” (James 5:16).

Why isn’t confessing to God enough? Why do we need to confess to each other? Because: if we don’t confess to each other, we are still fearing man. And if we fear man, we are not completely trusting God. We fear that we could not stand the shame and exposure, the possible rejection that would come if people knew about our sin. And that fear keeps us from getting healed. It is that fear that keeps us in bondage. We will never know that God is all we need until we have let another person see into our deepest secrets. “When I kept silent about my sin, my bones wasted away through my groaning all day long. For day and night your hand was heavy upon me….Then I acknowledged my sin to you and did not cover up my iniquity” (Ps. 32: 3-5). Confessing to God always meant a public confession of sin to the priest at the altar, and a public sin/guilt offering, and often a public restitution as well (see Leviticus 5:5 and Leviticus 6:1-7). God is our refuge and stronghold – not our lies and secrecy and shame.  Mike finally got to the point where he was so desperate for God that he was willing to confess. This is another point in his favor: Mike was not “exposed” – he finally got up the courage to confess his sin. That to me is the key point. He says that he had a dream of Jesus on the cross looking down at him and saying, “the truth will set you free.” So he confessed.  And Mike will find that although shame is a kind of fire, God will indeed walk him through it.  Now Mike can finally begin to experience God’s healing, praise God!

2) This leads to the question of how he concealed it for so long from leadership, and whether the church contributed to his situation. I know nothing about his church, but I do know that church culture can sometimes put undue expectations upon people. If the church culture is shocked or judgmental when people sin (whether those sins seem small or great), that is a recipe for disaster. We are not to judge each other; we are to take heed, lest we fall; we are to not cast the first stone, but offer grace and mercy and forgiveness to all. If we shame each other over our sins, we put a stumbling block in the way of someone’s repentance. “Do not judge, or you too will be judged. For in the same way you judge others, you will be judged; and with the measure you use, it will be measured to you” (Matt. 7:1-2). I think it is also a fair warning that we not exalt people, especially worship leaders and pastors, to celebrity status. I also think the focus in his church on healing and signs and wonders also contributed to the particular form Mike’s illness took. The enemy wants to use this to undermine our faith that God can and does heal. God does, but perhaps not immediately, and not in the way we would sometimes like. In particular, God does not “heal” us of sin in order to spare us the messy issues of discipline, repentance, and restitution. I also wonder if there had been signs that Mike was unstable mentally or emotionally that leadership ignored, because it isn’t “spiritual.” In many church circles, to admit a need to seek counseling, or to be on psychotropic medications, is an admission that you lack enough faith or reliance on God. As I have shown above, this is often the very opposite of the truth.

3) That leads to the next question: how should the church react to Mike? We should not disavow him. He is a sinner who has confessed his sin. We need to embrace him, love him, support him, pray for him, and restore him. Nor should we let others castigate him. “If anyone is caught in a sin, you who are spiritual should restore him gently. But watch yourself, or you may also be tempted. Carry each other’s burdens, and in this way you will fulfill the law of Christ” (Galatians 6:1, 2). Remember the story in Luke 7 – “her sins, which are many, have been forgiven, for she loved much. But he who is forgiven little, loves little.” His need for counseling is not a failure – it is the first step to wholeness. When Mike is finally healed, he will love Jesus so much more.

4) Finally, what about the song “Healer?” Is it a lie? Should it continue to be sung? I believe God gave it to Mike G. and used it to bring him to repentance. I will continue to use it in my private devotions because it speaks the truth, and because to me it is a sign of God’s incredible mercy and power, even in the midst of great sin. God can even use our sins to bring us to repentance. Whether it should be used in congregational worship is another matter. I think it might have application where the sermon is about the specifics of confession, and/or where God wants to set people free from compulsive behavior (sharing the story). I would hesitate to use it in general worship without teaching about it first because some people may be stumbled by it otherwise. In particular, it needs to made clear that the line “You’re more than enough for me, Jesus, You’re all I need” does not allow us to keep ours sins secret, and does not mean that healing will be anything but messy, painful, and requiring much love and forbearance.