One of the most frequent healing stories in the Gospels is that of demon possession. Many 21st century Christians aren’t quite sure what to do with these stories. They wonder, is this like the movie “the Exorcist” that Holywood produced? Is it mental illness? Is it a literary construct of the first century?
Put that aside for a moment and consider the case of Anthony Weiner, the now resigning as a representative in Congress from New York. Here you have a man who has served in office for almost twelve years (not an easy venture over the political swings that have happened over the last twelve years). He was a former hockey player and weatherman. He is married. By most measures, no matter what you thought of his politics, you would have to consider him intelligent, successful, and last but not least sane.
Yet, this was a man who apparently was consumed by the idea, if not the actual act, of sex with strangers. He would send pictures of himself to people he had never met. He would make sexual advances within moments of making contact with someone he hadn’t met, couldn’t see, and had no idea how they would respond. Even if you cast the morality of such acts aside, you have to wonder where his mind was. Anyone can pretend to be almost anyone on the internet (including personal and political enemies). It just doesn’t make sense, unless that person was being consumed from the inside by something else.
I don’t exactly know with 21st century science in our heads what we do with 1st century stories of demon possession.
But, as a pastor, I can tell you this man’s actions bear remarkable similarity to others in the first century who Scripture reports seemed to have little to no control over their actions. I also know that after they encountered the Holy, they regained who they once were.
I pray that Anthony Weiner again finds himself and finds peace in his life. And I hope we as a people aren’t naive to the spiritual dangers that are very much a part of our 21st century world.
Until next time,