Mike McHugh wrote the following piece after a recent election in his state.
Mike Rothfeld’s campaign for Congress mailed a controversial piece of literature during the race leading up to the June 13 Republican primary. This mail piece exposed the perversion of homosexuality and his opponent’s past commitments to the homosexual lobby. It aided in the defeat of Rothfeld’s pro-homosexual-agenda opponent. It also thereby aided in the election of another Christian conservative. But Rothfeld’s decision raised important questions among Christians. Was his action right? Was it lacking love? And what does it really mean to hate sin but love the sinner?
These questions provide the opportunity to think biblically about the assumptions of Christians on both sides of the controversy. Have Rothfeld’s Christian critics been infected with a mild version of the prevailing cultural disease called pluralism? Or did Rothfeld indeed cross the line by speaking the truth without love?
Pluralism is the belief that whatever you do or think is fine, as long as it works for you. Every opinion is equal and has an equal right to be expressed in the public square. This belief goes all the way back to the garden of Eden when Satan convinced Eve that God’s way was not the only legitimate option. The two great commandments of pluralism are:
1. There are no absolutes, so believe whatever you want and do whatever you want as long as your opinions are not dogmatic.
2. Do not judge my opinions.
Interestingly enough, advocates of pluralism are very dogmatic about the absolute truth of the first commandment. They judge those who break the second commandment with a vengeance, and tend to be conveniently blind to their hypocrisy.
While most Christians acknowledge the error of pluralism when confronted with it, many function under pluralism’s assumptions. They have been conformed to the world on this point. Instead of having the full-blown disease of pluralism with a fever of 105, they have learned to live with a milder version of the disease with a fever of 100. Symptoms of the milder version in Christians are the absence of any sure word from God or the presence of statements like, It seems to me…. or, It’s not for me, but I’m glad it works for you. You will rarely hear a Christian, who has been infected by pluralism say, Thus saith the Lord… or The Bible says….
As Gary DeMar says in his article The Leftist Theocracy, pluralism is attractive because it eliminates the need to battle over religious first-principles. The hope is to find common ethical principles that all people can agree on. Such a theory sounds good until it is actually put into practice. He goes on to say,
Under the doctrine of pure pluralism – to which many secularists say they subscribe – all lifestyles are permitted. Thus, in the end, cannibalism, human sacrifice, group suicide, the Manson Family, polygamy, and kiddie porn would have to be allowed. Who are we to say what is right and what is wrong? is the common refrain. Clearly, society cannot long survive if this principle is pushed to its logical conclusion and everyone is free to write his own laws. Thus, we subscribe to pluralism within certain limits. We allow a wide range of behavior, even though we don’t always approve of it. But we do not permit all behavior. We do not even allow so-called victimless behavior such as prostitution, drug addiction, drunkenness, and the like. The reason we do not is that our laws presuppose certain truths. Pure freedom of conscience then can never really be tolerated. Government neutrality on matters of religion and morals is a modern myth. We can never escape the question: Whose faith, whose values, whose God undergirds the civil laws of a nation?
DeMar concludes by saying,
In time pluralism leads to the establishment of the State and its own brand of theocratic civil religion…. If there is no God, there is no law…. The rejection of Christianity, which has served as the basis of reality and morality in this nation, has been replaced. We have moved from one theocratic government to another. The secular state is the new god. There is no guarantee, however, that it will retain its new religious status. Some new god is always in the wings waiting to take center stage. Where is Gideon when you need him?
Assuming that I have all the facts on the Rothfeld mailer, I believe Rothfeld did not cross the line of Christian charity. From a theological/moral perspective, he did the right thing. Was it wise strategy? Did it tactically accomplish the goal? Those better versed in the strategy and tactics of campaign warfare are more qualified to answer that question than I am.
My focus is biblical morality. Morally, Mike Rothfeld’s decision was right, because we are commanded to hate evil, love good, and establish justice in the gate (Amos 5:15). (The gate is the place where civil officers sat to conduct the business of government, where court was held, and the law administered.) Those influenced by pluralism will find this principle of Christian politics offensive. But the world hated Jesus because He testified that its deeds were evil (John 7:7), and we, too, are commanded to expose the deeds of darkness (Eph. 5:11). Even if Rothfeld had not been successful in stopping his liberal opponent’s election, it was still the right thing to do.
As William O. Einwechter says in his article Establish Judgment in the Gate,
Hate is a strong emotion, and it usually leads us to act. If our hate is of evil, it will motivate us to act in opposition to that evil. Since evil is that which displeases the Lord and ruins the bodies and souls of men, it is good and righteous to hate it. The problem today is that men do not hate evil; and so evil goes unchecked, destroying lives, families, communities, and nations. Sadly, we Christians have also lost a hatred of evil. We may dislike it, but we don’t hate it! Therefore, we can never seem to quite get motivated to do anything about it. If there is to be a true reformation, the church must once again learn to hate evil…. Love and hate go hand in hand for we only hate that which threatens the person or thing that we love. For example, we can only hate tyranny if we first love freedom; we can only hate war if we first love peace; we can only hate abortion if we first love the life of the unborn, etc.
Husbands who fall into adultery may dislike adultery, but they do not hate it. Why? They have not specialized in loving their wives, and are thus vulnerable to temptation. Likewise, the church has lost its ability to hate and fight evil because it has not specialized in a serious study of the scriptures. (i.e., loss of saltiness, Matt. 5:13). And it has consequentially developed a mild case of the disease called pluralism.
Evil is at work in our gates, and in our churches. But the people of God are crippled by their ignorance of biblical principles and by the lack of conviction that is the fruit of pluralism. Without true conviction rooted in principle, the church cannot maintain an offensive stance against evil. It takes great love for the things of God to maintain a hatred of that which is offensive to God. And until Christians see doctrinal heresy being challenged biblically in the church itself, or see church discipline administered properly against unrepentant sin in Christians, how will they ever learn to carry Christ’s fighting passion for truth out into the gates?
The prevailing evangelical notion that confuses love with tolerance can only be overcome with the real truth about love. Speaking the truth in love with brothers in the church, so that they might grow (Eph. 4:14-16) will look very different from speaking the truth with our enemies in the gates (Ps. 127:5) or warring with false doctrine (2 Cor. 10:1-7). The Apostle Paul could be as gentle with a new believer as a mother nursing her child (1 Thess. 2:7), and he was patient with the ignorant (2 Tim. 2:23-26). Yet at times he was seemingly harsh with believers who were mature enough to know better (1 Cor. 15:36), and even verbally violent with false teachers and wicked civil rulers. (Gal. 5:15) (Acts 23:3). He imitated Christ, (1 Cor. 11:1), handling all problems differently, and loving the sinner while hating the sin. Did not Jesus love the sinner when he called men whitewashed sepulchers full of dead men’s bones? Did Jesus not love the sinner when he carried a whip and threw chairs and tables in the temple? Yes, of course He did!
Love manifests itself in different ways depending on the circumstances we find ourselves in. Let us reject the simplistic and absolutist mantras about what is and is not love. Part of our inheritance in Christ is a razor-sharp Christian mind. (1 Cor. 2:16) Yet the let’s just be nice notion of what constitutes godly communication is evidence of a dulling of the Christian mind. As we struggle to reform our doctrine, our families, our churches, and our nation, we will need great love, (Phil. 1:8-10) and wisdom (Jas. 1:5) to discern the different approaches needed to please Christ in each situation.
I believe God used Mike Rothfeld’s love for his family, church, and nation to protect them by exposing the evil of his opponent’s dangerous views about homosexuality. Mike fought his fight on religious first-principles; he had the Christ-like love necessary to stay engaged in the fight. May we learn to do the same.
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