When Godly People do Ungodly Things (by Beth Moore)

A while ago I downloaded a few books that were offered free for the Kindle, written by Beth Moore. She’s an American Christian writer/teacher, and while I don’t always appreciate her casual and familiar style, I’ve liked the essence of what I’ve read from her before. So, while I was away and wanting a Christian book to read for a few minutes each day, I decided to try ‘When Godly people do ungodly things’.

This book has the rather daunting subtitle: ‘Finding authentic restoration in the age of seduction’. That’s exactly what it’s about. It’s quite long - it took me over a month to finish it, reading in small portions. Sometimes I had to stop reading mid-page as there was a lot to take in. Not that anything was particularly new, but there were some quite important reminders to be on guard and alert, and plenty more to think about. It’s written from a context of spiritual warfare, taking very seriously the dangers we can fall into.

This isn’t about the problems of everyday sinning - occasional bursts of temper, perhaps, or idle gossip, or laziness. Instead it’s about longer-term and more serious, often deliberate wrongdoing. Sometimes it can be relational, such as adultery or even abuse; but it could equally be related, for instance, to shady business practice.

The first part of the book is, in my mind, rather long-winded. Essentially it outlines why godly or holy people sometimes do terrible things. David in the Bible is an obvious example, but in recent years there have been any number of priests or evangelists, apparently devout people, who have committed crimes or immoral actions, some of them very damaging to others. Why does this happen? Is it just that we notice them because we expect more of them? Are they terrible hypocrites? Or is there direct spiritual attack on those who are closest to God?

While those are all possibilities, the author looks at situations for whom the third option is true. Not that less holy people are exempt, but those who are the most spiritual may sometimes be least on their guard against the dangers that surround them. The author refers to her own past, both recovering from terrible experiences, and doing things she knew were wrong herself. And she refers obliquely to others in similar or worse circumstances. There aren’t many actual examples given. Perhaps it wouldn’t be helpful to do so, but it means that it’s quite a theoretical book.

Having made it clear that anyone is vulnerable - and it’s quite a chilling thought - Beth Moore goes on to explain how to be protected against attack. She concludes the book with advice about how to be restored if one is in the throes of this kind of thing. There’s plenty of Scriptural backing in the book, and some exposition, alongside her personal opinions and experiences.

I found the last section somewhat repetitive and a bit difficult to get into. The author refers to people who’ve been ‘seduced’ in this way as ‘hads’, a word which I found rather confusing, although I gathered it was a US slang term.

I skimmed some of the later chapters, as most of the content didn’t really apply to me, but I thought it could probably helpful to those in these situations. I particularly liked the advice about healing one’s conscience - and how false guilt can cause someone to feel bad even if they have been forgiven and moved on.

I would recommend this book to Christians who are - or have been - concerned about falling into significant sin. It’s unlikely to be read by those who are currently being deceived and dragged down, but would possibly be useful to those around them. However it’s American, with some examples that make little sense outside of US culture. It’s also quite casual in style, and takes a while to get into.

I can no longer find it available for download as an ebook; if you buy a print edition, make sure it’s the full book not the short ‘leaders’ guide’.

Review copyright 2018 Sue's Book Reviews

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