There’s a story in the Bible about one of Jesus’ beloved students named Peter, who publicly denies ever knowing him. Jesus has been arrested and is facing death at the hands of the Romans—and Peter, fearing for his own life distances himself when questioned.
“I do not know the man!” he insists three times.
It is a sin of separation based on Peter not wanting to be associated with him.
Yet as ugly as followers of Jesus creating distance from him is, it’s a far more vile act, when in depravity they claim proximity; when they stand proudly in the world and commit the greatest of atrocities upon humanity—and contend that Jesus consents to it all.
It’s hard to imagine a greater illustration of Christians losing the plot than when they defend predators. There are few bastardizations of the life and the message of Jesus, as complete and grievous as taking the side of rapists and pedophiles and genitalia grabbers—but this is where we are now. With the Evangelicals embracing Donald Trump and with those now rallying to the defense of Roy Moore, this is what we’re watching in America: the least of these being thrown to the wolves by the supposed shepherds. We are watching organized Christianity betray its namesake.
In dog-and-pony, Bible-waving press conferences, in Scripture-affixed social media endorsements, and in pulpit-pounding Sunday sermons, we’re seeing professed people of Jesus willfully protecting the monsters, heaping shame on the accusers, ascribing virtue to their offenders—and passing it all off as redemptive, as something of God.
And because of this filth now parading in his name, Jesus has left the damn building—and good, decent people of faith are rightly following him out. In these days, the Evangelical Church is proving itself to be the truest danger to the most vulnerable. It has now become the very insidious evil he so pushed back against while his feet were on the planet.
I don’t know how to understand the mind of a man or woman who attempts to profess devotion to Jesus while simultaneously defending a molester—and I’m not sure I want to. That’s a darker place than I think I can go without losing hope or sanity. I can’t imagine how a human being can so horribly distort the “love the least,” “blessed are the peacemakers” message of Christ, enough to stand on a wooden or social media platform—and knowingly bless a man who rapes, patently excuse violence to a child, or passionately campaign for a predator. It’s all about stomach-turning as it gets.
As a disheartened and embarrassed follower of Jesus, I can only openly grieve these things. All I can do is to denounce such wanton twisting of the Gospel to those still willing to listen, and stand with the victimized and the wounded and the vulnerable—because I know that this is where Jesus would be.
There’s a sickness here that we need to name and condemn. Regardless of the Bible verses they drop or the high-profile ministries they wield or how sanctified they try to sound—when Christians defend predators they deny Jesus and they sell off their souls.
It’s really as simple as that.
Order John’s book, ‘A Bigger Table’ here.