Category Archives: Sin

The Sin of Hiding Behind a Keyboard

Lately I’ve been noticing how easy it is for people to be negative and critical about others behind the safety of a keyboard (aka “the internet”). It’s a whole lot easier to say bad things about people you have never met, people who are only an image on a screen. Things are a lot different when you are face-to-face with them.

A few years ago, Jimmy Fallon and All-Star baseball player Robinson Cano set up a humorous prank that illustrates this reality. Please take four minutes to watch this…

What’s really sad is that there are a lot of Christians who are guilty of negatively judging others who they have never met. And far too often they don’t even have enough evidence before going public with their judgments, via blogs, Facebook, twitter, and other social media outlets.

For example, I recently came across a so-called “discernment ministry” website which had a long list of “false teachers.” While perhaps some of them are indeed false teachers, there were some pastors and evangelists listed that I would need to see some credible evidence to back up the charge. So I utilized the search feature on their website and found that these “discernment” bloggers provided no evidence to back up their charges against some of these men.

While falling short of the legal definition of slander, this kind of thing is definitely malice, and is sinful behavior.

So, here’s a challenge to all of us. Before we say something unkind to someone or about someone, let’s make sure we aren’t hiding behind the keyboard. Then, let’s make sure we have plenty of credible evidence to back up our charge. Finally, let’s only speak of them as if we were standing there in front of them, and the people who love them.

The Wisdom of Vice President Mike Pence and Evangelist Billy Graham

**WARNING… This post focuses on a sensitive topic that is inappropriate for children.

What do the men in the following list have in common?

Harvey Weinstein (Film Executive), Kevin Spacey (Actor), Glenn Thrush (NY Times Journalist), Jeffrey Tambor (Actor), Louis C.K. (Comedian, Actor), Al Franken (Actor, Comedian, Senator), Charlie Rose (Journalist), Matt Lauer (Today Show Host), Roy Moore (Former Judge, Senate Candidate), Steven Seagal (Actor), Ed Westwick (Actor), Brett Ratner (Film Director), Dustin Hoffman (Actor), Jeremy Piven (Actor), Michael Oreskes (National Public Radio News Chief), Mark Halperin (NBC Senior Political Analyst), George H. W. Bush (41st President of the United States), Terry Richardson (Celebrity Photographer), Leon Wieseltier (Literary Critic, Magazine Editor), James Toback (Film Writer and Director), John Besh (Celebrity Chef), Bob Weinstein (Film Executive), Oliver Stone (Film Director), Roy Price (Amazon Studios Chief), Ben Affleck (Actor), Garrison Keillor (author, speaker, radio celebrity).

They are successful men in their respective fields who have all been accused of inappropriate sexual behavior in the past two months. And that list is not exhaustive. It all began with Hollywood executive Harvey Weinstein. He was the proverbial domino that led to what seems to be almost daily breaking news of another celebrity, or person in a psoition of power, being accused of inappropriate sexual behavior.

This morning it was music executive Russell Simmons (Def Jam Records).

For a lot of men in powerful positions, victims have chosen to no longer remain silent. For the ones who are truly guilty, their day of accounting is overdue. I suspect many more will be called out to accountability in the days, weeks, and months to come.

Some of the men on the list have only one accuser. Some have multiple. In both cases, we need to be careful of assuming someone’s guilt simply due to accusation. I heard about one pastor (several years ago) who was accused by a teenager of inappropriate behavior. It nearly cost him his church and brought untold turmoil on his family, his church, and the community. Sometime later the girl admitted that she made the whole thing up.

So what does this have to do with our Vice President and with famous evangelist Billy Graham?

Well, simply this… Both Pence and Graham chose to live by a very high standard that would make it virtually impossible to (a) engage in this kind of behavior and (b) be accused of this kind of behavior.

How? They live by a principle that my generation credited to Graham… strive to never be alone with another woman other than your wife, including, but not limited to, not eating out alone with a woman other than your wife in public. In ministry circles we called it the Billy Graham rule. This current generation is calling it the Pence rule because our Vice President applies the same rule to his life.

Men who hold positions of influence or power have more opportunity to act upon their sinful inclinations as well as are more susceptible to false accusations. Therefore, you would think that all Christians would see the wisdom in such a principle, especially for men who are in positions of leadership (which the Bible calls for being “above reproach”).  But if you think that, you would be wrong.

Case in point… Christianity Today editor Katelyn Beaty. This young lady recently wrote an op-ed for the New York Times in which she argues that the Graham/Pence rule is demeaning to women. She writes, “The Pence rule arises from a broken view of the sexes: Men are lustful beasts that must be contained, while women are objects of desire that must be hidden away.”

Well, Ms. Beaty, if this Autumn’s news cycle hasn’t convinced you… men are lustful beasts (Ephesians 2.3) who, apart from the restraining grace of God, will engage in shocking and disgusting behavior to fulfill their lusts. Any man who tells you otherwise is lying or self-deceived. King David was a man after God’s own heart and yet he fell into the trap of using his position of power to sinfully fulfill the lust of the flesh.

Second, as for women that are objects of desire that must be hidden away, I hate further rain on Ms. Beaty’s pollyannaish parade, but the truth is that many women today actually need to do a better job of hiding away their sexual parts, instead of showing as much of them as possible. I’m not saying women need to cover all their skin and dress frumpy. But let’s be honest, the rebellion against modesty seems to know no limits these days. (And yes, I’ve read the viral article titled “Modest is Hottest” is not in the BibleThe author makes some good points but is dangerously naive, as well as weak theologically, on some critical points.)

God created them male and female. But because our society has summarily dismissed God and His wisdom concerning sexual standards, it’s no wonder that there is so much confusion about how to safeguard against sexual misconduct.  What’s disappointing is that an editor for Christianity Today thinks that the Graham/Pence rule is a bad thing.

As for me, I am going to stick with the Graham/Pence rule. As each “Breaking News” story unfolds in this current sordid news cycle, I’m increasingly seeing just how wise these men are.

Identifying Your Source Idol(s)

When preaching on idols a couple of Sundays ago, I made reference to my friend Darrin Patrick’s differentiation between surface idols and source idols. The following is taken from Patrick’s book Church Planter, pages 164-167. Patrick acknowledges his indebtedness in this area to thinkers like Tim Keller, Dick Kaufman, Dick Keyes, and Jack Miller.


(Privacy, lack of stress, freedom)

Price we will pay- Reduced productivity

Greatest nightmare- Stress, demands

Others often feel- Hurt

Problem emotion – Boredom


(Affirmation, love, relationships)

Price we will pay- Less independence

Greatest Nightmare- Rejection

Others often feel- Smothered

Problem emotion- Cowardice


(Self -discipline, certainty, standards)

Price we will pay- Loneliness; spontaneity

Greatest nightmare- Uncertainty

Others often feel- Condemned

Problem emotion- Worry


(Success, winning, influence)

Price we will pay- Burdened; responsibility

Greatest Nightmare- Humiliation

Others often feel- Used

Problem emotion- Anger

Fighting Sin

Came across this great quote by Billy Sunday over at Trevin Wax’s blog:

I’m against sin. I’ll kick it as long as I’ve got a foot, and I’ll fight it as long as I’ve got a fist. I’ll butt it as long as I’ve got a head. I’ll bite it as long as I’ve got a tooth. And when I’m old and fistless and footless and tootheless, I’ll gum it till I go home to Glory and it goes home to perdition!”