Why you should be shocked by Tullian’s sin.

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.”
Or this:

“I have fallen in my thoughts, I am no better”

and then

“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.

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15 thoughts on “Why you should be shocked by Tullian’s sin.

  1. No shock? No pulse. Run to the cross!
    Very good read. Thank you.

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  2. rrp4075Renita

    Shocked, yes. Knocked off our own path, no. The sad part, aside from how the direct family is hurting, is how many people are rocked in their faith in a bad way. A fallen pastor shouldn’t knock us of our own path. Instead it should make us cling fast to it and realize that none of us are without sin, none of us are exempt from the temptation that results in sin, but ALL of us who have Christ can overcome though Him. We have to remember we follow Jesus, and not the pastor.

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  3. Wonderfully put Lauren!
    I like what you did here 😉 , with this …..”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 was actually thinking about the same thing. It happens all the time, 😦 we just don’t always hear about it. Every family faced with adultery suffers but I would imagine even more so if it is the Pastor’s family. We “expect” them to know better and to be in touch with and in tune with the power of the Holy Spirit to help them resist any temptation. There is almost a deeper sense of trust in that person because of Who we believe he is getting his strength from. Ultimately, for ANY of us, it comes down to choices. To walk away, turn away, put up the hedge of protection – don’t go near that fine line. We all need to pray! Realizing that when we sin, we sin against God; as well as those involved – whether it’s a public or private issue.
    “the world will know we are Christians by our love for one another.” I pray that we learn more about what REAL love is, so that we can display real love, live out real love, give real love and accept real love.

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  4. Shocked. That’s fine. Concerned. Hopefully. Allowing the reality of it to hit you so that you in return wake up, put up boundaries and protect yourself. 100%. Everything we go through is not done in vain. It is to help someone else. I just want to bring attention to your second point. In our eyes, humans, sin is not all the same because we have made it that way. We weigh out sins. In God’s eyes every sin committed is seen the same. James 2:10-11 helps you understand that no matter what sin you commit you are labeled a transgressor of the law. That is why Romans 3:23 is so important. For we all have sinned and fall short. That is what creates our NEED for a Savior who died to make us “righteous” which means “in right standing with God”. Most of the people that are comparing their sin to Tullians are those who understand Grace in the presence of all sins. That we all fall short. They are humbling themselves and saying you are no more a sinner than I. Were more people affected? Absolutely because of his platform. But I am pretty sure God and him are having some difficult discussions through all of this. All Tullians needs to know right now is that he is not alone. That Our God heals and that we love him and believe in him no matter what.

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    • Also, Sin is a choice. Cancer isn’t. That’s is a hard comparison.

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      • I was appealing to their similarities for comparisons sake. Both are a result of the fall. Both are common and expected. Yet both feel wrong and shocking when it happens to someone you love or admire. Not a perfect analogy. But I thought it made the point that even though something is a common, expected result of the fall, depending on the severity, it can feel very shocking.

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    • Hi Susie! I agree! Every sin, no matter how small, separates us from God. I was speaking to the “consequences and steps to healing” being traumatically different. There are loads of people now with Tullian, and last year with Bob saying ” you sin, we all sin, please come back.” It’s not helpful, realistic, or Biblical because according to 1 Corinthians 6:18 sexual sin is different. Again, no throwing stones here. I have loved listening to Tullian teach. He has done more for the gospel then I will likely ever do. He has impacted the way I see scripture and even my own sin. But having a lustful thought does not disqualify you from ministry. Acting on it does. Some don’t see that scriptural delineation. Thanks for your comment!

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  5. I’m so glad you posted this! My heart breaks over these stories, but I must admit, I have grown weary in hearing of them. Sometimes I have felt my disappointment was a result of my own “putting one up on a pedestal.” But, truth be told (as you so logically do), sin is sin. We should not be afraid to hold our LEADERS up to a higher standard. They are leaders, after all. I have over the years, learned to be a bit more discerning and cautious in “looking up” to others, knowing we are all human. But the idea that we are living in a world with no true heroes of the faith is a sad indictment on the Church. To quote the great theologian Pat Benatar “I need a hero!” But I’d settle for a God fearing Pastor who walks out his faith in fear and trembling. That is, after all, what I look for in a friend.

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  6. So, now that I have turned my husband on to your blog, the first thing he points out to me is that it was not Pat Benatar that was such a great 80s theologian, but rather Bonnie Tyler. How did he even catch that so fast, for Pete’s sake?! Just a rolled up window into my life for you there…. you’re welcome.

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  7. […] the body.  Since that day my prayer has been answered over and over. Yet every time I have been shocked and heart broken. Every […]

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