The Bible is inspired, God-breathed truth. God did not cover David's sin of adultery, though God did pay for David's sin of adultery through atonement. It's my opinion that the power of the gospel is only truly seen when the Holy Spirit brings people to transparency. Truth is, going to a strip club is not a sin. Police officers go there all the time to arrest people in fights. Dads may go there to rescue a daughter from stripping. A pastor may go there to bring accountabiliy to a dancer who is involved in his church's Celebrate Recovery program. All those things would not be sin.
But if a man were an officer, or a dad, or a minister entering a strip club to rescue or redeem a loved one--the man's loved ones would know in advance. He would tell them for his own protection and his need for their assistance. The man's wife would know, the man's small group would know, the man's friends would know, etc... The evidence that something is wrong in our lives is the inability to be transparent about it. That would include anything and everything in Christian ministry. If we can't be transparent about what we are being paid as pastors, something's wrong. If we can't be transparent about what we believe, something's wrong. If we can't be transparent about what we are doing, something's wrong.
Proverbs says the path of the righteous grows brighter and brighter like the rising sun (Prov. 4:18) but the wicked walk in darkness and do not even see that over which they stumble. At the heart of all stumbling for believers is our desire to hide, cover and conceal our lives--while at the same time presenting a cover mask that makes us seem different than the way we really are. The issue of my friend going to the strip club was that he lied about his purpose for being there (i.e. "I went there to help a person in our Celebrate Recovery ministry"), and tried to cover up the fact that he frequented strip clubs on a regular basis and paid his favorite strippers thousands of dollars. For too long we have enabled Christian leaders to lie by letting them off the hook when they lie.
For those who believe there is no redemptive value in "airing our dirty laundry," I offer the following letter, received yesterday and used with permission, as evidence that desiring authenticity and transparency in Christianity is something healthy.
"I've commented at least once on your blog as "Johnny D." I've been reading it for several months. I just wanted to say thank you ...
I prayed the salvation prayer in May of 1988, and I do believe that I really was saved. I spent a great deal of money & time evangelizing through the promotion and production of Christian rock concerts, and any other way I could think of to reach the crowd out on the edge. I was very serious about it all, and I even took several classes at Bible college. I prayed and witnessed regularly, belonged to a local Bible church, and considered myself called into pastoral ministry. I was wrong about that. Of course God was not.
About ten years ago I chucked Jesus and church and the whole thing. Some of that chucking was just immaturity on my part, but there were also legitimate reasons for my leaving. I will only say that a lack of authenticity by those around me really bothered me. I saw no real power of the Holy Spirit as we were promised, and that eventually led to me deciding against the Spirit's existence. Anyhow, I was just as guilty for all the things I looked down at other people for, but I was too immature to fully grasp that fact.
I know you're busy, so I'll just cut to the chase. God has called me back, and I've been listening. A part of that calling back has been your example, Tom's example (Watchdog), and the example set by others that post at the dog's blog. Many of those people at dog's blog have embraced me and have been praying for me. I'm still struggling with things such as how far do I go with my walk and talk. I'm kind of anonymous right now, but I do have some good people praying for me. I guess there is a part of me that is afraid of getting "burned" again, and I'm struggling to let that part of me go. I know that most of this falling away, if not all of it, is my fault, but I still am having a hard time with trusting God. I keep thinking things like, "If I proclaim my faith again to all my friends and family, what will I say if I find I still can't believe at some later date?" That sounds kind of silly to me now that I see it in print, but there it is. I have told my wife that I have been praying and reading Scripture again, but I think that she wants to see how serious I am before she makes any further moves or comments. She's a wonderful, beautiful woman, and we've been married 27 years. She told me that she hadn't fallen away as far as I had, but we both know that we haven't been living as Christians for a long time.
I think this note to you is part of the cleansing process for me - or I at least hope it to be. Anyhow, thanks again for your integrity and your leadership. You've made a difference in my life, and I hope that one day I can report to you that I have successfully come all the way back. That I have found a way to be authentic to myself as well as others. That I no longer worry about what others are doing. That I really have experienced the true power of God's Holy Spirit. I want that peace I used to have. My faith is a lot smaller than a mustard seed, but I do have some faith. I do want you to know that I love Jesus. That I have missed Jesus and praying, and that these past couple of months that I have been praying have been quite amazing. I have about a 30 minute ride to work, in the dark, so I get to just let it all go, out loud, and that has been very nice. Well, thanks for reading, and I'll be reading your blog.
Johnny, I am praying for you. I think you are getting it. Your letter is authentic. Christianity is not composed of perfect people. It is composed of people who struggle with sin, just like those who don't know Christ. The difference is believers in Christ aren't afraid to tell people about our struggles. We acknowledge them. We don't hide them. Why? We have come to Christ, in whatever small amount of faith we possess, and we are learning to rest in His forgiveness and mercy. More importantly, we are beginning to realize that the same power that raised Christ from the grave is within us, changing us from the inside out.
Sometimes we chafe. Sometimes we rebel. Sometimes we grow cold. Sometimes we run.
But He who began a good work in us will carry it on to completion, and for that, we are eternally grateful. For His glory and our good the work God has begun and is continuing in us sometimes even involves Him using ....
Television cameras and news reporters to break us.
In His Grace,