Tuesday, August 26, 2008

Of Porn and Cancer

For two years, Michael Guglielmucci had cancer. At least that's what everyone thought, including his parents, congregation and thousands around the world. With a hit song called Healer, Michael had inspired millions with his battle.

This week it was revealed that Michael doesn't have cancer. He never did. However, he did suffer with constant vomiting and nosebleeds. He lost weight and lost clumps of hair. He carried an oxygen tank with him, even on stage. He's had bouts with this mystery illness since the age of 12, events that landed him in the hospital for weeks at a time.

Michael is addicted to pornography.

An Austrailian pastor with Planetshakers (a Christian youth movement) and son of the founder of Edge Church International, Michael's illness is apparently a physical manifestation of his guilt due to his 16-year addiction to pornography. Last week, Michael confessed his secret life to his wife and family. His father has made a public announcement about Michael and his "fake" cancer. He claims Michael has been addicted to pornography since the age of 12 and has suffered from physical ailments due to his addiction and lying. Danny Guglielmucci claims that his son once spent seven weeks in a children's hospital where the doctors ran numerous tests and even removed Michael's appendix. The family thought at one point that they were going to lose their son. It was suggested that they admit Michael to the psychiatric ward for observation, but the family refused because "they felt uncomfortable with that at the time."

Michael is now under psychiatric care. The doctors believe that there were times Michael was completely convinced he had cancer. His wife is also receiving counseling.

There has been outrage from the congregation of Michael's father's church and others who donated money to Michael. The family has promised to return any donations that people request.

Michael has not spoken to the public, but did release this statement:

"As a result of this secret life of sin, my body would often break down. I would report the cause of my symptoms simply as illnesses but the truth is, that although I was ill, I did not have cancer, but again used a mis-diagnosis to hide the lie that I was living."


Is it odd that the part of this that bothers me the most is that fact that his parents refused to get their son any counseling or psychiatric care? They went against the doctors' advice because they weren't "comfortable" with it? Am I wrong to blame them, even if it's just a little bit???

My heart goes out to this man. I've never held a secret so deep that it affected me like this, but I have dealt with guilt that consumed my thoughts and made me feel like crawling in bed and not coming out. I can't imagine sixteen years of such deep-seated guilt. And I know people are going to call him a hypocrite, but this is not a man who maliciously lived some sort of double life. If he was so guilt-ridden that his body literally began to break down, then he is not a hypocrite. He is a man who is very unwell. I pray that he can find forgiveness from his family and his congregation; most importantly, I hope he can forgive himself.

Here is a video of Michael singing "Healer" at Hillsong Live:



1 comment:

Greg said...

this is an incredibly powerful statement of what sin, guilt and hidden shame can do to a person. i once heard a counselor define depression as hate turned inward. I agree completely with you he needs more love and forgiveness than anything that most of us as "good" christians would be willing to give. he has lived out the consequences of sin for 16 years. My question is, what of the guilt, if any, of his parents?