Jerry Falwell should know better

David Burchett

My first response to Rev.Falwell's comments?

Sighhhhhhhh. Why can't we all just work on discipleship and becoming better Christians for a couple of weeks?

Here is the story as reported by the NY Times. A recording of Falwell's comments was obtained by The Times, and his remarks were confirmed by eyewitnesses.

"I certainly hope that Hillary is the candidate," Falwell said, according to the recording. "She has $300 million so far. But I hope she's the candidate. Because nothing will energize my [constituency] like Hillary Clinton."

Cheers and laughter filled the room as Falwell continued: "If Lucifer ran, he wouldn't."

I don't know Jerry Falwell but I have watched him many times on TV as the designated representative for evangelical Christians in America. I am almost positive that his comments about Hillary were made as a joke. The tone and room reaction would verify that take. But it was not a good joke. It did not reflect the spirit that serious Christians want to portray in the culture. And perhaps I am being a hypocrite because sarcasm is one of my spiritual gifts. This was a meeting that would, without question, be subject to intense outside scrutiny. I try to be fair in my responses. I have said so many things that I would be incredibly embarrassed to see in print. But I also try to be very cautious in any public speaking or published writing. I don't have the platform that Jerry Falwell possesses. If I made that same comment only a few angry cyber hall monitors would hit my mailbox. But Jerry Falwell and I both are held to the same standard as people who claim the title of Christian. Paul addressed the Church at Ephesus with these words.

Be imitators of God, therefore, as dearly loved children and live a life of love, just as Christ loved us and gave himself up for us as a fragrant offering and sacrifice to God.

But among you there must not be even a hint of sexual immorality, or of any kind of impurity, or of greed, because these are improper for God's holy people. Nor should there be obscenity, foolish talk or coarse joking, which are out of place, but rather thanksgiving. Eph 5 NIV

I have to to be on my guard constantly because coarse joking comes real easy to me. God's Word tells me that is out of place. I am not a big fan of politically correct speech. But I am a fan of grace filled speech. I don't think this reflected well on Rev.Falwell or the Evangelical Christian community. Reverend Falwell has to know that everything he says in public is fair game to his political opponents. This was gift wrapped and hand delivered to his critics.

And I was a bit dismayed to see him remark that nothing will energize "my" constituency like a Clinton campaign. I want to say this with all respect and grace. Jerry Falwell does not represent me unless he is communicating Biblical concepts or truth. When it comes to social issues and politics I follow Biblical principles and my conscience, not any particular person. I think the average Evangelical is getting a little weary of the perception that we are in lockstep with certain leaders in the Christian movement. I have been overwhelmed and encouraged by the response to my recent article about my Christian agenda.

Falwell predicted that this year's midterm elections would go in the GOP's favor, despite polls showing Democrats in position to make gains. "I think we're going to keep the House and the Senate," he said. "I think the Lord will take care of that."

I don't know if the Lord is going to take care of that or not. I have very strong positions and opinions politically. But I can't help but think that we are losing a bit of perspective in this cultural fray. I don't want to be misunderstood on the importance of this topic (although I certainly will be). I know there are some vital issues on the table socially and politically. But I am asking that every Christian and Christian leader run this passage through your filter every day.

One of the teachers of religious law was standing there listening to the discussion. He realized that Jesus had answered well, so he asked, "Of all the commandments, which is the most important?"

Jesus replied, "The most important commandment is this: `Hear, O Israel! The Lord our God is the one and only Lord. And you must love the Lord your God with all your heart, all your soul, all your mind, and all your strength.' The second is equally important: `Love your neighbor as yourself.' No other commandment is greater than these."

The teacher of religious law replied, "Well said, Teacher. You have spoken the truth by saying that there is only one God and no other. And I know it is important to love him with all my heart and all my understanding and all my strength, and to love my neighbors as myself. This is more important than to offer all of the burnt offerings and sacrifices required in the law. (or dare I say more important than political processes and elections?)

Realizing this man's understanding, Jesus said to him, "You are not far from the Kingdom of God." And after that, no one dared to ask him any more questions.

At the end of the day I want that response from Jesus. I have a burning desire to be a good citizen. But want I really want is to grow closer to the Kingdom of God and represent His love and grace to a wounded world. I just pray that we will maintain a little balance in our words and deeds.