Go to any Christian bookstore today and you will find heaps of books written about why people are leaving the faith or are not coming to the faith. These books are basically siding with these folks, claiming that bad churches and bad Christians are really at fault here.
They claim the churches and believers are not loving enough, are too judgmental, too focused on sin, too preachy, too this and too that. And that is why people are not coming to Christ, or are leaving Christ and reverting to paganism. So what are we to make of such books and such ideas?
Well, I have already spoken to this. For example, I discussed one entire book written along these lines, and shared my concerns about it. You can find that article here: https://billmuehlenberg.com/2010/04/04/a-review-of-unchristian-by-david-kinnaman/
What these books and these authors seek to do in my opinion is make excuses for sin and for sinners. They are trying to let rebels off the hook. They are trying to justify rebellion and sin. I think that is a very dangerous place for any believer to be in.
We need to agree with God, and not take sides against him. The truth is, we are all dirty rotten scoundrels. We are all sinners who actually love self and hate God. We are all born with an orientation towards sin and self, and away from God and righteousness.
This is of course basic Christianity 101. If we don’t agree with God about our fallen condition and our bent away from him, then we will never be able to make any sense out of the gospel message. The gospel is good news only for sinners. It is not good news if you think you can forever make excuses for your sin.
Now, do Christians and churches often get things wrong and often misrepresent Christ to others? Sure, happens all the time. There are plenty of churches, Christians and Christian parents which could have done a better job – in fact probably all of them.
We all could have done far better. We all could have been more Christlike. We all could have been better ambassadors of our Lord. But guess what? In a fallen world, there will be no perfect churches, Christians or Christian parents. We are all flawed, finite and fallible.
Even born-again, Spirit-filled, Bible-believing Christians are not perfect manifestations of the Christian life. I am not trying to make excuses here for our poor performance. We all must humble ourselves, repent, and ask God to make us much more like him. We all need to be aware of how often we fail Christ, let him down, and misrepresent him to the world.
But that should not allow sinners to get off the hook. We should not allow this reality to become an excuse for sin, rebellion, atheism, and the defiance of God. We should not seek to offer justification for those who renounce the faith or those who refuse to embrace the faith.
I write all this in part because I recently wrote about a 21-year-old girl who renounced her Christian past, her Christian home, her Christian upbringing, and her Christian parents. She now is exalting in the “freedom” of her atheism. And it is clear that she is now exalting in her freedom to sin.
She spills the beans here: “For a long time I couldn’t have sex with my boyfriend (of over a year by this point) without crippling guilt. I had anxiety that I was going to Hell.” Well there you have it. As long as she was in a Christian home and going to a Christian church, she was not able to freely enjoy her fornication.
That, more than all her lame intellectual excuses, seems to be the real motivation here. Like millions of other people, she would rather sin freely than submit to God and his holiness and righteousness. She wants to do her own thing, sin with impunity, and be able to do it all without any guilt.
Well, she can try all she likes to pretend God does not exist, but it will be harder for her to dispose of her guilt feelings. She has guilt feelings because she is guilty. She still lives in God’s moral universe, and she is still subject to God’s moral laws, whether she likes it or not.
So she proudly and defiantly writes up her atheism and rebellion, and expects people to feel sorry for her. Well, I don’t. I do feel sorry that she is heading to a lost eternity unless she repents of her sin, her vain arrogance, her foolish pride, and her defiance of God.
But I do not feel sorry for her upbringing. From what little I know about it, it sounds pretty good to me. I wish many more people had such an upbringing. She can make all the stupid excuses she wants, but she is still accountable and morally responsible for her choices.
Indeed, for all we know she could be lying through her teeth in her article. Perhaps she had utterly terrific parents and churches as a child. We just don’t know. Yet a number of Christians still seem to assume that she was raised in some Pharisaical hellhole. Why should anyone make that unwarranted assumption?
Thus I for one find it really odd that so many believers are actually siding with this reprobate. They seem to want to make excuses for her and her sin and her rebellion. Why in the world should Christians seek to defend sinners and justify atheism?
The truth is, Jesus never told anyone: “Oh you poor thing, you had a rough childhood. You were treated poorly by your parents and your religious community, therefore you do not need to repent and be saved”. I am not aware of Jesus ever making an excuse for someone’s sin, or ever trying to justify someone’s rebellion against God.
And when we all stand before the judgment seat of God we will not have one lousy excuse to offer, be it ‘science and the Bible conflict’ or whatever. We will all stand with head bowed and mouth shut. We will not have one thing to say in our defence.
So as I said in my previous article, we must certainly pray for her and others like her. But she is an adult and she has freely chosen to reject God, embrace atheism and sexual promiscuity. There is no reason for any Christian to defend that or make excuses for it.