We see signs like this all the time - things posted to tell us not to do or say or eat or drink something. Our world is surrounded by warnings, but the arrest this week of a Department of Homeland Security official on Internet pornography shows that passing laws and posting warnings apparently is not working. There was another case in the news where a school teacher admitted to having sex with a 13-year-old boy. There have also been allegations - unproven so far - of sexual assault involving the Duke University men's lacrosse team. What are we doing? And how do we stop?
The news was not good. Brian J. Doyle, a 56-year-old deputy press secretary with the Department of Homeland Security, was arrested at his home outside Washington. He faces 23 felony counts of using a computer to seduce a child and transmitting harmful materials to a minor.According to Sheriff's Department officials who had set up the sting in Florida, Doyle identified himself using his real name, his office telephone and cell phone numbers and included a photograph of himself wearing a TSA lapel pin. He was busted and carted away from his Silver Spring Maryland home in handcuffs. He had a high security clearance, and worked for a government agency that includes people who take action against Internet predators.
His neighbors say they were surprised; his lawyer says Doyle was depressed. But what he sounds like most is an addict; someone who was hooked on this stuff regardless of how it manifested itself.
Then there was the case of Rachel Holt, a 34-year-old science teacher in Delaware who is charged with having sex with a 13-year-old student. The Associated Press reports she even allowed her victim's 12-year-old friend to watch once and gave the boys alcohol.
Duke University's lacrosse team coach quit Wednesday amid allegations three of his players raped an exotic dancer at a team party. Coach Mike Pressler had spent 16 years at the school and led them to three ACC titles. The players and their lawyers have denied the charges but Duke has canceled its season.
Have we all gone nuts?
I admit to struggling with my own addictions. I eat. I use food for comfort sometimes - what they call "emotional eating" at Weightwatchers. And food is one of those addictions that can be a real Faustian bargain - you don't have to snort cocaine, you don't have to look at porn, you don't have to drink alcohol, you don't have to spend yourself into massive debt - but you do have to eat or your body will die! I used to smoke - that was a big mistake. Cigarettes are one product the proper use of which will lead to a painful, miserable, awful - and unnecessarily early - death. The insidious thing is it looks like the tobacco companies knew that and planned to get us hooked on their damnable product anyway!
But I am learning to control the desire to eat for comfort. How? By learning that I am not really in control of my life. So many ofthe decisions that are made daily are the result of other people's decisions or things beyond my control. I have very little control over things, only my response to them.
And learning healthy responses takes time, because the survival skills I learned as an addict (and an abuse survivor) no longer work. But there is hope. There is a way out. Jesus said he came to preach Good News to the poor - and He welcomed those who were under the influence - sinners, whores, drunks, lepers, the sick, the helpless. And He delivered them. That is where hope lives for all addicts - in giving God control. It's a daily choice that has to be made, but thank God He also provides the grace to make it.