In “Christians and the sin of hating homosexuals” I laid out some examples where Christians express an indefensible hatred against homosexuals. Robert Fischer objected to the post, saying that “it is unhelpful to offer up these anecdotal incidents of hate.” And why is that? He went on to explain as follows:
These may be used by other people to say that *any* expression of disapproval of homosexuals is “hate”. And given rising persecution of people such as Dale McAlpine in the UK, who was arrested merely for saying that homosexuality (among other things) was a sin.
The pendulum has swung too far in one direction. Can you recall anything “hateful” from the lips of any conservative “mainstream” preacher such as Albert Mohler, R.C. Sproul, John Piper, or John MacArthur? I’m afraid your anecdotes will just be used as ammunition to denounce even people like these, for the simple articulation of Biblical principles.(Emphasis added)
I call this the “win the campaign” objection. Even if your political party is doing something wrong, and even if the other side is doing something right, you don’t admit it because doing so will aid your opponent rather than yourselves. I think this notion is often underneath the surface but is all-too-rarely articulated. So I’m glad Robert Fischer brought it up. Now how shall we respond?
My response is simple,straightforward, and like an egg it comes in two parts (if you don’t count the shell).
To begin with, Christians have one task and that task is not to be successful but rather to be faithful. And suppressing instances of sin within our own community is not being faithful to our call to be a witness to the Kingdom of God breaking into the world. If we win every cultural battle but we suppress our own sin then we’ve sold our corporate soul and lost the only war that ultimately matters. (To put it another way, God has placed before Christians individually and corporately one great task: work your salvation out in fear and trembling. He’ll take care of the rest.)
This brings me to my second point. In the long term being faithful is also the key to being successful. Of course there are no guarantees in life but this general rule of thumb is well attested. The reason is simple: when people realize that you will speak the truth no matter what (faithfulness) they will come to trust you (success). So a Christian community that is open and self-critical about its own sins and failings is one which will be eminently more credible to a skeptical world.
But don’t take my word for it. Consider a couple examples.
Example 1: Imagine that you are asked in a job interview the question every potential employee dreads: “What’s your biggest weakness?” Here’s the way not to answer: “To tell you the truth, I don’t have any.” And just so you know, the following response is only a marginal improvement: “My problem is that I’m a consummate over-achiever.” People really do want you to be honest and in all likelihood it will help you get the job (unless you say “I have sociopathic tendencies and have some skeletons buried in my closet … literally“).
Example 2: Nicky Gumble tells the story in the “Alpha Course” of a man who began to work as the personal assistant for Mr. Selfridge, owner of Selfridges Department Store. One day the assistant answered the phone and informed Mr. Selfridge “Sir, Mr. so and so is on the phone.” Selfridge answered “Tell him I’m not here.” Gabby looked squarely at Selfridge, handed him the phone and said “You tell him.”
After he got off the phone an enraged Selfridge began to yell at his assistant, threatening him that if he ever did such a thing again he’d be fired. But Gabby simply replied, “Sir, if I can lie for you, then I can also lie against you.” The response hit Selfridge like a thunderbolt. And from that day on Gabby became the most trusted man in the company.
Like I said, things don’t always work out that smartly. Sometimes being honest doesn’t get you the job, and other times it might lose you the job. In a world like ours this method really is political suicide. And it doesn’t win wars. But all the same this is surely what the Kingdom of God demands.