The Christian Church is no stranger to hypocrisy. The Church is comprised of sinners who do not always practice what they preach, and sometimes such practice is in stark contradiction to what we preach. Some of the most heinous acts have been committed by Christians while they speak truth. It seems that sexual misconduct within the Church is always on the radar. Ever since I can remember being able to comprehend it, I have been made aware of numerous sexual scandals within the Church. Like just about any person, some have hit close to home and others further away. The ones that are closer to home tend to be particularly devastating- not just physically and emotionally, but spiritually and intellectually.
It is important for those who are affected to hold to a worldview that can objectively condemn such actions and provide healing for the victims. In these emotionally trying situations it is easy to entertain doubts of the truth of Christianity. Today, I want to take a few moments to show how such hypocrisy actually reveals the truth of the Christian worldview and how the Christian worldview offers the only possible answer to hypocrisy.
The Objectivity of Evil
First, a sexual predator’s actions must be called out as objectively evil, not merely something that a group of people do not like or prefer. The claim that what they did was evil is not just an opinion that can be dismissed by those who do not see anything wrong with the actions. That such actions are objectively evil is a feature of reality that must be faced, explained, and answered by every worldview.
No worldview can escape this obligation. No worldview that is missing an anchor for objective morality can provide any meaningful judgment of “evil”- those who hold to these worldviews can only render opinions, which is no more valid or true than the person, who may also hold to the same worldview, who says the actions were “good.” Any worldview that is missing such an anchor is demonstrably defeated by any sexual predator’s actions (whether they are members of a church or not).
The Scars Sin Leaves and The Cost of Moral Agnosticism and Relativism
Every single victim of sexual misconduct, molestation, rape, etc. is created in the Image of God, thus they are intrinsically valuable. Their violation is objectively evil, and justice must be served. The devastation of violations like these take years and even decades for healing to take place, if it even does. These men, women, boys, and girls will bear the scars for the rest of their lives. These scars will stand as a testimony to the truth that objective evil exists.
Any worldview that remains agnostic or ambivalent about the moral status of these actions makes the victims victims over and over again. Worldviews without an anchor for objective morality objectively devalues the violations and raises them to moral equivalency with love, honesty, and integrity. Worldviews that cannot call evil “evil” in any meaningful sense of the word (or for that matter, cannot call good “good” either) encourages the creation of more victims and compounds the suffering of those who are already victims.
Such sins in the life of a Christian demonstrates conclusively that no morally relativistic or agnostic worldview deserves to have a place in a culture, government, or even at the table of intellectual inquiry because it perpetually violates reality by violating the victims time and time again.
What If God Does Not Exist?
Sexual sin is detestable, despicable, and heinous, and we all know that intuitively. The person who commits evil is ultimately, eternally damnable because they have violated the intrinsic worth of a human being created in God’s Image, and by doing so, they have violated the eternal, morally perfect God. God is the only source for morality that is independent of any and all human beings. He alone is the anchor that allows anyone to objectively identify such actions as morally “evil.”
Simply put, if God does not exist, then nothing that these Christians did is evil. Nothing that they do is worth condemnation or even discussion since they are merely dancing to their DNA- the victims will continue to be victims because they are not really “victims” of anything good or evil. This is not to say that someone has to believe that God exists to condemn a Christian’s sexual violations; rather this is to say that it is only because God does exist that even an atheist can accurately condemn such actions as objectively evil. If God does not exist, not even the theist can condemn sexual abuse as objectively evil.
The Cognitive and Emotional Dissonance of Evil
When the stories of a perpetrator’s heinous acts are recounted, the moral law that is written on all our hearts will emotionally and powerfully rise to the surface. The emotions we feel are not there merely because we feel that these actions are evil, but because they objectively are evil, and our outrage is a most appropriate reaction to such violations. The head and the heart, logic and emotion, converge in perfect harmony to reveal the truth of reality and the truth of God’s existence. Unless God exists, a person’s “evil” deeds bring nothing but cognitive and emotional dissonance.
Actions Speak Louder Than Words
If the grotesque moral failings of ministers of the Gospel are to serve any purpose, it is to attempt to shock our culture back from its moral and intellectual stupor and remind us of the contradiction in every Christian life. But in stark contrast to every Christian, in God there is no contradiction: not in His actions and not in His words. We all long for someone to be fully consistent with what they say and what they do. But this simply will not happen when we look to man, even Christian leaders. We should not be surprised when ministers of the Gospel morally fail. We should be surprised that despite the evidence all around us of humanity’s fallenness that we still try to look to humanity for perfect consistency.
Rather, we must look to the morally perfect Creator, against whom every human has sinned. This God loves us and desires an infinite, personal relationship with us so much that he became one of us to take upon Himself our sins and the wrath that we deserve because of our sin. Justice was served for every sin we could ever commit when Jesus Christ died on the cross. And in His bodily resurrection from the dead, we have forgiveness (1 Cor 15). The resurrection of Jesus provides us proof of the truth of His claim to be the Creator God of the universe- the Way, the Truth, the Life, without whom no one can come to the Father (John 14:6).
Conclusion- My Two Prayers
Sin, hypocrisy and betrayal in the life of any Christian minister does not demonstrate or even indicate that Christianity is false. Rather the opposite is the case: they provide severe tests of a worldview against reality, which Christianity alone passes. Christianity never makes the claim that Christians will be perfect; in fact, it makes the contradictory claim: that Christians can and still do heinously evil things. This is the reality that we live in, that we are a part of, and that Christianity uniquely, among all the worldviews of history, accurately describes. It is only through Christ that the sinner is healed, that the victim is healed, and that both can be reconciled to God.
It is my prayer that all victims will find understanding ears in today’s culture- people who recognize, validate and anchor the objectivity of the evil and suffering they endure, people who recognize that full healing can only be found at the Cross.
It is also my prayer that as more revelations of moral failings within the Church come, that it will cause unbelievers to consider the foundations of their moral outrage, investigate the evidence, and realize that they too are in need of Christ’s atonement, forgiveness and Resurrection.
Finally, remember that it is not Christ who has failed us; it is members of His Church who have failed us. It is time that we stop misplacing our trust in people and start properly placing our trust where the evidence tells us it should have been in the first place: in Christ. I implore you to follow the moral, philosophical, historical, and scientific evidence where it leads: surrender your life fully and completely to Christ to find both healing and forgiveness.
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