Why Should Anyone Believe What a Christian Says?
It’s hard to read news headlines each day. I try to stay informed by maintaining a robust news aggregator service that I check daily. This allows me to read several hundred headlines each day and keeps me as informed as any person would want to be. But I admit that it is a difficult task.
Part of the difficulty is reading headlines related to Christians.
With all that Christians face from a lost and dying world each day it only compounds our burdens when we harm ourselves and the Gospel from within. When Christians behave in such a way so as to bring shame and embarrassment upon the Gospel we preach and the name of Jesus we are doing no one any favors. Most of all, we are helping to push others further away from Christ rather than being a tool to draw them to the Savior.
Here’s a headline I wish didn’t exist: “Peeping Pastor Pleads Guilty to Very Creepy Crime.” The article reports:
“A former pastor and theology professor has pleaded guilty to climbing up a ladder and watching a couple have sex in their bedroom… [the man] pleaded guilty to peeping into a couple’s bedroom window…admitted that he observed the couple through a second-floor window… [he is] a former preacher and professor at Grand Rapids Theological Seminary, pleaded guilty Tuesday to one count of surveilling unclothed persons.”
I don’t even know where to begin. This isn’t like King David being on his rooftop and seeing Bathsheba. This is a man that grabbed a ladder, placed it, and then climbed it for the express purpose of watching a couple in their bedroom. The couple wasn’t doing anything wrong or trying to be watched, they were in their home and this man violated their privacy.
But what does this headline say to the unbelieving world? To a world that thinks Christians are self-righteous hypocrites this headlines confirms their biggest criticisms and fears about Christians and even the church in general; that we are all sexually repressed perverts pretending to be moral people when in fact we are no better than the people whose actions we condemn as sin.
Another article I didn’t want to read or admit exists was about a pastor that committed suicide while awaiting trial for sexual abuse. The article states:
“A 61-year old Pennsylvania pastor accused of sexually assaulting a child over 20 years ago committed suicide on Monday. Scott Sechrist of Bristol Township shot himself instead of facing 20 counts of involuntary deviant sexual intercourse, 10 counts of statutory rape, and 10 counts of aggravated indecent assault, at a trial that was to begin next week.”
What floored me about this article is that the pastor maintained his innocence despite being recorded admitting to the abuse. This man appears to have abused a young girl, admitted it, lied about it, and then killed himself. Does an innocent man kill himself? I don’t know, but I do know that this entire story highlights a troubling trend of those claiming the name of Christ being guilty of sexual sins. This is not about committing a sin, because we know that we all sin, daily. This is about a pattern, a premeditated, prolonged pattern of sexual sin. Such patterns of sin are at odds with The Gospel and the sanctification we claim to believe.
But it’s not just sexual sin that Christians are increasingly embracing, its unbiblical beliefs. An article I read today shares the response of creation apologist Ken Ham to the remarks made by Pat Robertson. Robertson said on his 700 Club television show that he believes the earth is millions of years old, but that was least offensive of his remarks. Ken Ham responded:
“If you watch the CBN “700 Club” program from 37:50 to 40:56 on Tuesday you will hear Pat Robertson: 1. … claim that: ‘The truth is, you have to be deaf, dumb and blind to think that this earth that we live in only has six thousand years of existence.’ Pat Robertson illustrates one of the biggest problems we have today in the church—people like Robertson compromise the Word of God with the pagan ideas of fallible men! That’s why a big part of the AiG ministry is to call the church and culture back to the authority of the Word. Pat Robertson is not upholding the Word of God with his ridiculous statements — he is undermining the authority of the Word. And any attack on the WORD is an attack on the person of Jesus Christ, who IS THE WORD!”
The part that bothers me the most is that Robertson thinks I’m “deaf, dumb, and blind” to believe the young earth creation model. I know plenty of atheists, agnostics, and evolutionists that would agree, but they don’t claim to be Christians. Robertson, as a Christian, is verbally attacking other Christians for a belief he doesn’t agree with by calling them names. Does this elevate the Gospel and give glory to Jesus?
And how could we forget the recent Twitter announcement from Jars of Clay front man Dan Haseltine supporting homosexuality and same-sex “marriage.” Haseltine tweeted:
“I just don’t see a negative effect to allowing gay marriage. No societal breakdown, no war on traditional marriage. ?? Anyone?”
This alone is enough to grieve the heart of God and cause the Christian community unneeded heartache. Anytime a person calling himself a Christian embraces what the Bible calls sin the Gospel and Christians get another black eye. Forget about the marriage issue for a minute Dan, what homosexuality in general. Are you seriously saying the Bible doesn’t clearly call homosexual actions a sin? You would have to be in order to support same-sex “marriage.”
Haseltine didn’t stop there, he made this statement:
“I don’t particularly care about Scripture’s stance on what is ‘wrong.’ I care more about how it says we should treat people.”
Sorry Dan, but as Christians everything about our life should be based on the Bible, including our sense of right, wrong, and morality. If you don’t care about what the Bible says is wrong, how do you know you are living in accordance with God’s Word?
Theologians and other Christian academics immediately responded to Haseltine, and rightfully they needed to. Some of those responses included:
“Same-sex couples can no more be married than a square can be a circle. To pretend otherwise, is simply sin. To be an influential Christian and to claim otherwise is an especially heinous sin.” Denver Seminary philosophy professor, theologian and author Douglas Groothuis.
“[W]hen ‘leaders in the church go down this path, you can expect many to follow. A day is coming when affirming a biblical sexual ethic will give one all the social cachet of being the grand wizard of the KKK. What we are witnessing is a mad rush by professing Christians to flee that ship. And in so doing, they are fleeing the shame of the cross.” Reformation Bible College Philosophy Department Chairman R.C. Sproul Jr.
The Gospel has enough obstacles in front of it, including: competing with Islam, atheism, and other religions for the hearts of people, cultural trends that pull people away from God, persecution from those seeking to normalize homosexuality, and a government that is the most hostile to religion in American history. The last thing Christians and the Gospel needs is to cannibalize ourselves with sinful behavior and unbiblical theology.
I’m not even coming close to claiming that Christians don’t sin. I’m a Christian and I know I sin daily. But there is a difference between a Christian that is seeking to live the Gospel but still sins, and a person claiming to be a Christian that engages in a prolonged pattern of sinful behavior. The former is biblical and easily accepted as part of the sanctification process. The latter is not.
Christians, now perhaps more than ever, should be committed to a biblical worldview that compels us to flee sin and adhere fiercely to biblical doctrine. The world needs to see us living the Gospel every day as a matter of conscience and conviction, not vocation. I am reminded of Brennan Manning’s famous quote on the cause of atheism in the world today:
”The greatest single cause of atheism in the world today is Christians who acknowledge Jesus with their lips then walk out the door and deny him by their lifestyle. That is what an unbelieving world simply find unbelievable.”