At a recent gathering, a friend at my table remarked that all evangelicals are hypocrites. It shocked me to hear that because he is a very sensitive person and not one to make bombastic statements. It also surprised me because he is aware that I consider myself a part of the evangelical movement (with some exceptions). When I asked him to explain himself, he continued with the same type of critical exuberance and said that the only type of sexuality that evangelicals are concerned with is homosexual/lesbian/transgender sexuality. He argued that evangelicals no longer talk about sexual purity before marriage or the fact that the divorce rate among evangelicals, especially in the Bible Belt, has exceeded the American average.
Dinner had just been served, so I asked him for some examples to continue the discussion. He had sufficient examples. He argued that if homosexual behavior is so sinful, why don’t we seek to legislate against sex before marriage since it is a more prevalent sin in the Scripture? Why don’t we speak out against pastors who have committed adultery? Some of these ministers repent and others don’t, but many of them remain in the pulpit.
When I defend God or my evangelical brothers and sisters, I am looking for examples. God does not need defense but, because I am one of His ambassadors, I need to defend some of His policies. This fall, Eastern Europe had one of the worst droughts in recent history. Instead of harvesting their cornfields, some farmers just went ahead and plowed them because the harvest was so bad. In views of this drought, the Lord is still good, merciful, and full of compassion; we know that He will provide for us.
I had to accept that my friend’s argument was correct but, because it was so general, it did not take into consideration the people among the evangelicals who are consistent in their position on sexual purity. I know pastors who remind young people of the beauty of sex and of the fact that God blesses purity. I know pastors who are very cautious about divorced people getting remarried and counsel them extensively. Some ministers do weddings for couples who are marrying again, while some do not. I know evangelicals who do not accept homosexual/lesbian/bisexual/transgender lifestyles, but encourage these people to join their congregations and experience the love of God’s people.
I did agree with my friend that the evangelical position is more than attempts to legislate homosexual behavior. It is time for us to talk about God’s holiness on a wide range of subjects. At the same time, I reminded my friend that we live in a society that considers the court system as the place to adjudicate issues. Evangelicals are a part of this place, and we can easily fall down a slippery slope. We want to be involved in the decisions of our society, but sometimes we should be more concerned and more persuasive within our own congregations first.