Monday, July 2, 2012


Calvin Coolidge, our 29th president was known as a man of few words – very few!  Probably the most famous story (probably apocryphal) about “Silent Cal” concerned his attendance at church alone one Sunday when his wife was unable to go.  When he returned, she asked if he had enjoyed the preacher’s sermon.
            “Yes,” he replied.”
            “And what was it about?” she asked.
            “But what did he say?”
            “He was against it!”
(Presidential Anecdotes by Paul F. Boller, Jr.)

On my previous post I quoted my friend’s question about my thoughts on people cheering when persons are found guilty or executed for their crimes.  He asked, “Should the church be taking a stand on this behavior?”  I replied that I’d “think on this one a while.”

To be truthful, for years I have shied away from the idea of “taking a stand.”  I spent my late teens and my twenties in a church where this was a well-worn expression.  Stands were taken against all sorts of activities:  drinking; smoking; make-up; movies; rock and roll music; and, dancing.  Many of these were perceived as “worldly” and leading to “fornication.”  (Ironically, with so many activities forbidden, sex in a parked car was about all there was left for teenagers to do for fun.)

Sadly, though the Bible was preached and these worldly activities proscribed, there was little teaching about sin itself.  We were so busy trying to “abstain from all appearance of evil” (1 Thessalonians 5:22 KJV) that we didn’t really try to understand evil itself.  Or avoid it.

Then we (Uni and I and our family) were liberated from this by a geographical move.  We found a church where the Bible was clearly taught and where our freedom in Christ was taught.  Our new church was not concerned about “taking a stand.”  We grew in grace and knowledge.  I went to seminary and entered the ministry.

Yet there were always those who took stands and felt that a stand needed to be taken on some matter or another.  There were issues to be dealt with.  Only it seems that these later stands were becoming more and more politicized.

Sadly, though the churches, with which I have been involved in my later years, were an improvement in many ways over the church of my teens, they all, even the ones I pastored, suffer from the same lack.  And I’d suggest that this lack is common throughout the church.

We hesitate to behave and preach like Calvin Coolidge’s pastor.  We don’t take a stand on sin!  At least not about the sin or sins that we are guilty of.

Vengeance – the one that seems to be the springboard for the last post.  Over and over we are told in the New Testament that personal vengeance is sin.  Paul exhorts his readers over and over to put it aside and rather forgive.  Jesus even said we are to love our enemies.  There’s no place for cheering whey they get theirs!

Greed – that which has brought our nation down.  Again in the Bible we are told over and over of its evils.  Yet we keep living under its control.

Slander and gossip – e-mails, Facebook, Twitter, all have become vehicles for passing on malicious and hateful lies about people we don’t like.

I’m not planning on starting a new list of “The Seven Deadly Sins.”  That’s not my goal.  What I am trying to do is point out what I believe is a huge deficiency in Evangelical Christian thinking, behavior and preaching.

Our modern Christianity is about self-improvement.  The teaching we give and receive may or may not come directly from the pages of the Bible.  But it’s softened!

So my answer to the question is Yes.  The church should “take a stand” on the behaviors mentioned as well as others.  They should be condemned from our pulpits, discussed in our Bible studies and in our books and our blogs.  And we need to particularly examine our own lives regarding these things.

Perhaps this sounds harsh and judgmental to our modern ears.  But sometimes we need to be told that some behavior is just flat wrong!  There are at least two very real dangers that cannot be avoided if we don’t call sin sin!

·        First, if we do not understand there is something wrong we can never take steps to correct it.  We can become like those spoiled kids who are in the cart in front of us at the supermarket checkout.  The mother hasn’t a clue what to do when the child throws a fit for something he or she wants.  The mother can’t say “NO!”  And the child is miserable.
·        Secondly, the world is watching.  There are those who do not even profess faith, who sometimes have a greater sense of right and wrong than those who do.  And as Paul said to the Jews of his day so it can be true of us, “The name of God is slandered among the nations because of you!” (Romans 2:24)

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