It seems like Christians are being called out in the news for their hypocrisy more and more. Ever since the fight against gay marriage, opponents of Christianity enjoy pointing out how Christians are the ones damaging marriage through the adultery and divorce of those who claim faith. Case in point: one of the sons of the Duggar family (a Christian family on TV) was found out to have cheated on his spouse through a website that endorses and aids adultery. Gay marriage supporters and opponents of Christianity are having a field day with this, claiming it’s Christians who are ruining marriage not them. Let me respond with a few thoughts.
First, I agree with the opponents of Christianity to an extent. Actions like adultery are a horrible blight against marriage and destroy families. No one disagrees with that, and Josh Duggar should not get a free pass just because he is a Christian and we are Christians. He should be called out for his hypocrisy and his sin, which by the way, he has come out and admitted and asked forgiveness.
Second, we have forgiveness and grace through Jesus Christ, but that is not a license to go out and continue to sin blatantly. Opponents of Christianity see us as hypocrites with an easy escape plan because we sin whenever/however we want to, and simply say “forgiven” when caught. Now, of course an unbeliever will not understand God’s forgiving grace and how He forgives and cleanses us dozens of times every day! But they do have a point. The Bible says that Christians are “dead to sin” (Rom 6:2) and that we are no longer slaves to sin (Rom 6:17). So, should we go out and continue in sin so that we can get more of God’s grace (Rom 6:15)? Paul, says “may it never be!” Furthermore, we are called to be slaves of righteousness (Rom 6:18). Those Christians who casually continue in sin, knowing that they are forgiven, should be ashamed. They are not living the way the Lord wants and are part of this problem of Christianity being insulted.
Third, there will always be some measure of hypocrisy in the Christian life. We are declared to be forgiven, righteous, holy, and saints; but we know that is not always how we behave. What God has declared about us we will never live up to in this life. Is that a license to continue in sin? No. Should we continue to work hard at holiness? Yes. But if the Bible says to not lie, and I’m a Christian, will I still lie? Probably. Am I going to live my walk for the Lord perfectly? Of course not. Does that stop us from pursuing holiness or fighting against sin? Certainly not. But just know, that there will always be some level of hypocrisy in the Christian life.
Lastly, there is also the reality that not everyone who professes faith in Christ, is really a believer in Christ. I’m not saying anything about the faith of Josh Duggar, but I am saying that the Bible teaches not everyone who says they are a Christian are really a Christian. Jesus says in Matt 7:21 that not everyone who says ‘Lord, Lord’ will enter the kingdom of heaven. And in the next verse he says that there will be many who perform deeds for Him that are told that Jesus ‘never knew them.’ In James 2:14, James says there are those who say they have faith but their life does not back up their claim. And James ends his discussion by saying faith without any righteous works is ‘dead’ (James 2:17). Clearly, there is a segment of people who will say they know the Lord, but really don’t. We don’t know who these people are or how many there are, but the possibility is there. Those who continue in sin with no concern and those who live with no righteousness should look seriously at their own life and analyze whether or not they are in this group of professing Christians.
Is Christianity always going to be attacked and slandered? Of course it is. But we can help reduce the amount of slander by calling out sin when we see it, by not sinning casually without any concern or repentance, and continuing to work hard at righteousness even when we know we will sometimes fall short.
Pastor Mark Scialabba