King David enjoys status higher than a lot of Christendom and Judaism’s other heroes and figureheads. Even Jesus is called the Son of David. I’ve been thinking recently how much this exposes flaws in modern Western Christianity. Somehow, King David managed to be the only person in the Scriptures that God said was a man after his own heart. Countless books have been written about David, or following the model of David, or otherwise encouraging a Davidian element in our lives. Obviously he is venerated and held in hugely high regard. And yet, we know that in a moment of passionate love for his God, he ran naked and nude down the main street of town. We also know that in a moment of passionate lust, he raped a man’s wife and then murdered her husband. Rock on!
Can you imagine what would happen if a prominent church leader, or even a non-religious head-of-state, ran naked down the street of town because they were excited about something? What a perv! Where is the orderliness in his worship!? Is there ANYTHING today that we would deem worthy of that level of excitement? And what of the more sinister activity… how long would anyone last in our good graces if we found out they had been guilty of rape, and/or murder? We don’t have to think hard of examples of leaders who’ve fallen, whether it be sexual sin or otherwise. Whether you’re thinking of Ted Haggard or Todd Bentley or anyone else, when a modern leader falls, their ministry falls, and just about everything about them is vilified. Everyone who “knew that were no good to begin with” is proven right, and the rest of us try to figure out what side we stand on.
And yet… we know that David screwed up. Screwed way-the-hell up. What would happen if we found out that the beloved David Wilkerson, recently deceased, had a gambling problem, and had bankrupted his family? Or what if Billy Graham was discovered to have an ongoing addiction to masturbation? I would like to suggest, that if these things were found out, these otherwise mighty men of God would be thrown down from their positions of admiration and trodden into the dust of our disdain. Their ministries would become nothing, and all those who “knew” from the start, would prance around with their heads high. And many more would shake their heads and say “well, the truth’s come out, obviously it was God’s will”. And from there, Billy Graham would become a fake. And David Wilkerson was no good to begin with, his whole ministry was a sham. He was a false prophet.
As far as I’m aware ladies and gentlemen, those statements I just made are lies, and shameful ones. Yet they’re the lies that are perpetrated whenever a Christian leader is discovered to have sinned. I am not in any way suggesting that anyone’s sins should be excused, or that a life of good deeds makes up for a few bad deeds. But I am saying that bad deeds… however many, do not nullify the goodness of good deeds. I’m not making a morality connection here, I’m not talking about the goodness or badness of people… I am saying, again, that a bad deed does not erase the goodness of a good deed. Equally, a good deed does not erase the badness of a bad deed. Whether a series of good deeds makes us convinced that a person’s bad deeds are behind them, or not, is entirely a social construct and is not of concern to me. What does concern me, is the attitude of ungracious scorn that is piled on a Christian leader who succumbs to temptation, and the fact that their prior ministry and prior works for the Lord are very often branded as being false from the start.
Did our dear King David not also succumb to temptation? Well it just a little bit of rape… COME ON! Somehow, God got over the fact that David was very, very human, and through the scripture has given us a clear picture of the man, who miraculously remains venerated in our eyes today. When we apply any higher standard to anyone else, I believe that we sin. Paul, another modern Church hero, told us as that he had a sin issue, when he confessed the thorn in his side that kept him humble. Perhaps his thorn was anger, or jealousy… or homosexuality, doesn’t matter really. Paul loved God, and despite his human failings God did not remove him from his position of influence over a very young and very impressionable Church.
Next time any leader falls, whether it be a Christian leader or a secular one, why don’t we do our best to not apply any standard to them that God isn’t applying. Let’s sift the good deeds from the bad, spurn the bad, and love the good. Let’s remember the lives that were positively changed, the people who’s eyes were opened to a loving God, and the seeds that were sown in people’s hearts to blossom later in their lives. Let’s not be so concerned with a leader’s failings, that we preclude God from using that leader to minister to us at all.
Man atop tower image edited from: http://www.flickr.com/photos/sara_for_dinner/4968891482/