If you knew what I’d experienced in the last few years, you would think I shouldn’t be surprised by more adultery. Part of me isn’t. I mean, it’s getting tiresome. I am weary of grieving loss. I am fighting cynicism. And losing many days. And yet still when I heard about another pastor falling, my response was shock.
My exact words were:
What? No!! It can’t be.
In fact when I texted my close friends, their response was similar. Shock. Disbelief.
Yet so many voices on twitter said I shouldn’t be surprised.
“so you sinned today Tullian? Me too. Grace is enough.”
“I have fallen in my thoughts, I am no better”
“another celebrity pastor falls”
From these common tweets the general implication is:
1) We aren’t supposed to be shocked.
2) All sins are the same.
3) We know why this happened.
I have a hard time with all three of these conclusions. I understand the sentiment behind them. And there are no stones coming from me. But I had some different thoughts.
1) Sin should be shocking.
It is the exact opposite of why we were created. We have eternity engraved on our hearts. And if you have come to the point where the revelation of sin doesn’t cause a reaction in your heart, I would call that callous. Imagine if your friend came to you and told you that she just heard news that a mutual friend, mother of 4 littles was diagnosed with cancer. How would you respond? Would you say “Yeah, cancer. Everyone’s getting that these days. Ya know, we live in a fallen world. I’m not surprised. ” I doubt you would respond that way.
I can tell you how I would respond, how I have responded.
I would respond the same way I did a week ago when I heard about Tullian resigning for being caught in adultery.
“What??? No!!! It can’t be”
Why would I respond that way in either scenario? Is it because I didn’t know it was possible? Certainly not. Sadly I have watched each of those situations play out far too often. But every time shocking.
No not them. It’s not supposed to be this way. We were made for more than this.
Sure, if they were confessing to me, I would try “not to blink.” But my heart would be screaming, “no, not you!” Maybe because I know all too well the pain that is in store.
2) Not all sin is the same.
Imagine another friend comes to you and tells you they have breast cancer and needs a mastectomy. Would you respond with “Oh, yeah, cancer, I had skin cancer…..had to have a mole removed. I totally know what you mean. Cancer is cancer. You’ll be fine.”
No. Of course not.
I have had a friend in both of those situations. So I can tell you that the consequences and the steps to healing are radically and traumatically different. There is no comparison.
3) We rarely know the exact cause.
Over a year ago my pastor was caught in adultery. Rumblings echoed throughout the “grace” camp that his sin was a natural result of treating the Bible like a rules book. That’s why he fell. Now that a pastor from the grace side of the spectrum has fallen, they are claiming his theology has nothing to do with it. Mmhmm. Then there are those claiming it was the size of his influence. My question is this, if a small church pastor falls, and no one is there to tweet about it, does his family still suffer? I mean really, until someone can produce one complete study comparing the two, I don’t want to hear it anymore. As if you can even compare the eternal impact, positive or negative, of two different people. Here’s the reality. Sometimes when someone develops cancer, the cause seems clear. When a smoker gets lung cancer, or someone that worships the sun gets skin cancer it is reasonable to connect the cause and affect because science. But other times, in fact most times, the cause is not clear. There are just too many factors in play to blame one factor….. even in seemingly obvious examples. And still,even if the cause does appear clear to you, would the day of discovery be the time to blog about why they got what they deserved? I don’t think so.
Sometimes sin is shocking, and yet not all to the same degree, however playing Monday-morning quarterback is only helpful if you are analyzing your own game. I hope more Christians are shocked. I hope that we are so shocked that we make dramatic changes in our own lives. I pray that friends start going the extra mile to share struggles, ask uncomfortable questions, and make praying for each other a priority. I pray that we realize our battle is not against flesh and blood but against powers of darkness. I pray that we would stop shooting our own and understand that the world will know we are Christians by our love for one another. Amen.
*******Edited to add*********
I think it’s important to note that this is not a commentary on Tullian himself, but it is a response to the *comments* surrounding his choices.
Also, Not listed in the blog (because believe it or not, I do try to keep the word count down,ha!) but a huge reason his families situation saddened me so much, was that after the truth came out about Bob Coy, I switched to Tulllian’s podcasts every time I ran. I got more out of them than I expected and even looked forward to my runs just to hear his perspective on scripture. His teachings impacted me so much, my husband even got sick of me mentioning the guy! 😂 So the shock wasn’t, “how dare you!” But more, “not you too!”
And lastly, I don’t think it’s biblical to tell people how they should feel. Be angry and sin not. Sometimes shock and anger is part of the gig. But I daily pray for Tullian and his family and Bob and his family, and the countless other families that have been shocked this year.