I met John B. Crist at a SAA meeting.
SAA stands for Sex Addicts Anonymous.
The meeting was a few years before Crist really had gained traction in the Christian media realm, so I had no idea who he was. He told us he was in town “for work,” and it wasn’t until after the meeting that I chatted with him and discovered who he was. At that point, he had had a few videos pop into virality, and I realized I had seen a few. He was not a (Christian) household name yet, but he was evidently big enough to be touring around the country.
Upon chatting, we found we knew some of the same people from LA, and swapped numbers to keep in touch. Soon after, he gained more of a following and ‘blew up,’ and I was happy for him.
I often thought about this random encounter and it had taught me a few things. I even thought about writing about them before, but of course, I didn’t want to expose anyone who didn’t deserve exposure. But now that the cat’s out of the bag, here are a few thoughts about Crist, from what little I know of him.
1. Being at the top of your game doesn’t cure your addiction
I often think that once I “make it” and am world famous and can do what I love full-time, my addiction to porn and masturbation will magically evaporate. Meeting Crist at the SAA meeting proved that that is not the case. Success does not equal instant freedom from our addictions. So if you’re like me, stop waiting for your breakthrough to come along and cut the chains to porn, alcohol, or your vice of choice.
2. Don’t crucify fallen Christian celebs; Christ was already crucified for them
I want to word this precisely, because of course sexual misconduct is always inappropriate. But think about where I met Crist: In a Sex Addicts Anonymous meeting.
What does that mean?
It means he knew he had a problem and was actively trying to fix it. And he was doing it before he was called out and shamed all across the mediasphere. Many people repent and make a public show of mending their issues after the story breaks. The thing I admired Crist for is he was attending S-meetings long before the public knew he had an issue. Did he mess up in the past? Yes. But who among us has not?
I don’t know the timeline of the events and the accusations and my meeting with him, but without a doubt I can tell you that years ago, he was trying to heal from his sex addiction, just like me.
When we divisively attack our fellow believers, famous or not, we show the world that we really are the judgmental, unforgiving group the world has painted us to be. Is that really the image we want to transmit?
I contend that it’s not.
As a caveat, I want to point out that Crist is not a leader in a church, he is merely a Christian entertainer. His job is to be funny and maybe even critique certain parts of evangelical culture. Therefore, I don’t hold him to the standard I would a pastor or elder. Should comedians not receive the same grace as a plumber, mechanic, and so on?
Maybe I have more compassion for John B. because I saw him at his most vulnerable (and vice-versa) and I know what it’s like to struggle. It’s only by God’s grace I haven’t gone too far myself, but the possibility is always there. I’d be a liar if I said it’s impossible for me to do the same things any of these #metoo perpetrators have done.
So no, I will not shame a fellow believer, sex addict, and sinner. Because I am just like him. All of these internet warriors who are heaping up shame seem to be without sin, so I can only hope to be like them someday…
(yes, that was heavily sarcastic.)
But for the rest of us who are sinners, may we not build idols out of fellow fallen human beings. And may we remember to give grace out in the same way it was given to us.