This column is archived at http://www.chuckbaldwinlive.com/c2006/cbarchive_20070104.html
The Ted Haggard debacle is certainly a blight upon the cause of Christ. Unfortunately, it was not the first such embarrassment the Body of Christ has been forced to endure. Neither will it be the last. When it comes to sexual improprieties, there is no shortage of human frailty.
However, discernment and discretion teach us that not all sins are created equal. For example, one would be foolish indeed to compare King David to the sons of Eli. The character assassins in the media (and in some "Christian" periodicals) will never admit it, but we must acknowledge the difference between a good man "overtaken in a fault" and the discovery of a spiritual imposter.
We must also acknowledge the fact that even someone of the caliber of King David must suffer the consequences of adultery. It is a sad commentary on the spirituality of modern churches to see how many adulterers are allowed to remain in positions of leadership. The cover-up of adulterers, homosexuals, and even child molesters seems pervasive. In this regard, many ministers are no better than medical doctors in not being willing to demand personal accountability among their peers. This is a phenomenon that will certainly continue to bring additional embarrassment and consternation to the work of God.
That being said, it needs to be pointed out that sexual sin is not the primary problem in most churches today. There is another pandemic that is quickly destroying the modern church in America. Furthermore, this scourge is infinitely greater in destructive power than any of the sexual sins that the modern Pharisees seem to be consumed with.
The cancer that is eating the heart and soul out of the American church is the willingness of pastors and ministers to be bought, intimidated, or influenced by the purveyors of wealth and power. Too many pulpits have become little more than spiritual brothels where men are paid to provide pleasure for the rich and powerful. In the words of the Apostle Paul, they are "teachers, having itching ears."
Throughout America, pastors cater their sermons and writings to wealthy businessmen, politicians, celebrities, or other people of influence. Turn on the average "gospel" radio or television program. What do you hear? Prosperity theology. Entertainment evangelism. Positive Mental Attitude speeches.
In addition, most conservative Christian ministers would never dare challenge President George W. Bush or hardly any other prominent Republican, for that matter. Regardless of how unconstitutional or even unbiblical his policies and decisions might be, they refuse to address them. They either keep quiet or publicly support these fallacious decisions. What can such conduct be if it is not a deliberate attempt to grovel before power, to prostitute our message for the pleasure of men?
It seems that with far too many of today's pastors, the supreme desire is to be successful, to be popular, to be comfortable. Or worse, to accumulate money and wealth. We are looking for lavish lifestyles, opulent opportunities, or personal praise. And our preaching reflects it.
When is the last time you heard a sermon on hell or judgment? When is the last time you heard a preacher call sin by its first name? Most notable mega-churches proudly say that they never use the word "sinner." Lost, unredeemed souls are now called "pre-Christian" people. Words such as "repentance" have been removed from the vocabulary of the average pulpit in America today.
Yet, without sin and judgment, there is no grace and forgiveness. Without hell, there is no heaven. No repentance, no faith. No wrath, no mercy. No cross, no crown. No conviction, no Holy Spirit. No serpent, no Paradise. No transgression, no Gospel.
No, it is not physical adultery that is destroying our churches. The vast majority of America's pastors and ministers are moral men who are true to their wives and families. The problem is spiritual whoredom. Preachers need to renounce their friendship with the world (called spiritual fornication in Scripture), which includes the world's political and business leaders, and renew their vows to the God of the Bible. This, more than anything else, would bring true restitution and redemption to our nation.