I’d love to pile on Jerry Falwell, Jr. for engaging in, and then happily Instagramming, a yacht party (!) in which he, family members, and friends decide to emulate one of the foulest comedies of our time. (I’ve never watched “The Trailer Park Boys” because my sense of humour is set far, far above: say, at “Brooklyn Nine-Nine.”)
Other evangelical leaders have recently gotten into trouble by words and deeds that they plead have been taken out of context and yet cannot be excused in any imaginable context. My current favourite (he said, lips dripping with Schadenfreude) is the college chaplain who dropped onto an associate’s desk “The Complete Idiot’s Guide to the Kama Sutra.” (When later challenged, he claimed it was simply in jest.)
Embarrassed by my fellow believers, I want to cry out, “Not all evangelicals!” And what I mean at the heart of that cry is, “Not me! Don’t lump me in with those guys.”
Many friends will know, however, that I, too, have told jokes I shouldn’t have, used words I shouldn’t have, gossiped, and otherwise ignored the pretty clear teachings of Holy Scripture. Here are a few that come to mind:
“There must be no filthiness and silly talk, or coarse jesting, which are not fitting” (Ephesians 5:4).
“Like a madman who throws firebrands, arrows and death is the man who deceives his neighbor and says, ‘I was only joking!'” (Proverbs 26:18-19).
“Let no unwholesome word proceed from your mouth, but only such a word as is good for edification according to the need of the moment, so that it will give grace to those who hear” (Ephesians 4:29).
So instead of enjoying the delicious pleasure of denouncing others for sins from a presumed eminence of spiritual superiority, I confess instead my own stupidity and selfishness, my own reckless willingness to bring shame upon myself, my family, and my Lord, and my own pathetic attempts to rationalize such behaviour as somehow “cool” or “ironic” or otherwise “only joking.”
And I confess to deep sadness that I’m one of those leaders who has set a poor example.
And I will pray for that college chaplain and Jerry Falwell, Jr., as perhaps you will pray for me, too.