Accountability isn’t judgmental, it’s Biblical: why the church needs standards

Over the last few weeks, Jerry Falwell, Jr had a very public suspension from Liberty, during which time he revealed an affair his wife was having. Falwell resigned, then said he didn’t, then resigned again, bashed the university. This was the culmination in a long series of personal and moral failings from Falwell.

But what’s interesting when a prominent Christian has significant moral failings exposed, is the excuses I see online. I see comments on news articles and blogs where people will ask “and you’re perfect?” “I guess you never sin?”

Ironically, that is a self-defeating proposition. Judging people for having moral opinions is in fact a moral opinion where you’re being judgmental!

But what’s more, the idea that it’s somehow especially loving, or pious, or enlightened to show indifference to sin is not a Biblical idea.

Just for quick reference:  if anyone is caught in any transgression, you who are spiritual should restore him in a spirit of gentleness (Galatians 6:1). As for those who persist in sin, rebuke them in the presence of all, so that the rest may stand in fear (1 Timothy 5:20). My brothers, if anyone among you wanders from the truth and someone brings him back, let him know that whoever brings back a sinner from his wandering will save his soul from death and will cover a multitude of sins (James 5:19-20). Iron sharpens iron, and one man sharpens another (Proverbs 27:17).

We should be gracious. We should want to see people repent and restored. We should want to see broken people’s lives changed.

But we should not ignore sin. Because when we do, we allow predators to run roughshod in churches and Christian organizations under the guise that that’s “loving.” It isn’t. It’s not loving to the sinner who needs people who love them and care enough to point them to truth and righteousness. And for powerful people, it’s not loving to others in their ministry or organization who can suffer and be victimized by unscrupulous morals and sin.

Yes, there needs to be grace and forgiveness, but there also needs to be accountability. And sometimes there need to be consequences for a person’s actions. Leading churches, ministries, Christian organizations is a sacred privilege, not a right.

What about “not judging?”

A person might say but what about where Jesus says: “Judge not, that you be not judged” (Matthew 7:1)? And doesn’t he also say “Why do you see the speck that is in your brother’s eye, but do not notice the log that is in your own eye?“(Matthew 7:3)

But just a couple of verses later, Jesus also says “first take the log out of your own eye, and then you will see clearly to take the speck out of your brother’s eye” (Matthew 7:5).

Given the numerous Biblical passages which talk about pointing out sin and restoring sin, and encouraging people to personal holiness, the point of that verse isn’t that you should never have a moral opinion (which isn’t possible). The point isn’t about having a constant disposition of judgment, self-righteousness, comparison to others, and looking for faults. It’s not a command against thinking that immoral behavior is bad and that people (especially professing Christians) should live to a higher standard.

Thanks for reading! I’d love to hear what you think, and don’t forget to subscribe!