Billy Sunday (1861-1935) (Photo credit: Wikipedia)
Since leaving the Christian faith, one of the questions that has yet to be answered for me is this…
“Why is God so bad at making people good?”
I say this without malice or tongue in cheek. I say it as someone who was drilled with the idea that a relationship with Jesus and knowledge of God’s word led to a Godly and abundant life. But I found this to not be true. For all the talk of morality and the need to make a stand as Christians, especially on issues of sexual purity, the Christian church is full of failure and hypocrisy on issues it proclaims as central to Godly living.
According to Ben Witherington, in a post on pastors and porn, over 50% of all pastors admitted to using internet porn. Many of these same men (and sometimes women) are proclaiming changed lives and moral living, and yet they can not practice what they preach. They are just as human and just as interested in human sexuality as the guy next door.
Shaming Those Who Admit It
When I managed a Christian bookstore, I saw firsthand the awkward and heavy-handed way that many Churches dealt with those who admitted to viewing porn. In one instance, a customer of mine was fired as a worship leader when he confessed that he regularly viewed porn. He confessed to the elders of the church, and in return for his honesty, was fired and shamed until he left the church in humiliation. Not to mention, the shame and embarrassment that surrounded his wife and kids once the gossip, I mean prayer chain, kicked into full swing.
In a twist of irony, about a month after he was run out of the church, I discovered that my boss was using the computers at my Christian Bookstore to view internet porn. It was ironic, because he was one of the elders of the church that fired this guy. When I confronted him about the porn pop-ups on the computer, he pretended not to know what I was talking about. When I showed him the viewing history and the porn images that would upload, he still did not confess.
I went home that night and wrote him a letter, telling him that I knew he had been using the computers for porn. I also told him if that he didn’t come clean, I would go to the elders of his church and report my concerns. Within seconds of reading my letter, he was fearfully confessing his porn usage and practically begging me to not tell the elders at his church.
I really had no desire to put him through the ringer, considering he already had told his wife and would only face condemnation from his church. I accepted his apology and let the whole matter pass.
The Moral Low Ground
I won’t belabor my point, but when it comes to sexual purity, as defined by Christian morals, the church in America has absolutely no moral authority. The amount of hypocrisy concerning sex, porn, etc…is almost laughable. But it’s not funny, because the church, while holding the average Christian to extremely high moral standards, and condemning those who fail, often times allows its leaders to wallow in the moral low ground in their own lives.
In my own life,my best friend’s wife committed adultery with a worship leader at my old SGM church. He was soon divorced, but the worship leader convinced his wife to get marriage counseling outside of SGM so he could maintain his “Godly” image and continue leading worship.
There was another friend who led worship and eventually became pastor in the Vineyard. He was a regular user of internet porn and seemed to just give up at trying to overcome it. So much for the Spirit filled life.
I could list a dozen more, but you get the point.
The hypocrisy of so many church leaders telling people to do one thing while being unable to follow their own advice is staggering. And until the church quits condemning those who do not follow their views on sexuality, this hypocrisy will contine to erode any shred of credibility it may of had in our culture.
The myth of the moral high ground has been shown for what is, a Christian ideal that is not followed by those who supposedly are leading others to it.