The Evangelical Closet
A few days ago I was reading an interesting blog post called The Evangelical Closet. In it the author was pretty much taking a shot at us evangelicals for being no better than anyone else but trying to pretend that we are. The essence of his long and interesting complaint is that, while we are obviously just as flawed as everyone else, we go about self-righteously pretending we are just fine.
Is he right? Is that what we do? When he says that every week he hears of another evangelical “committing a crime, getting divorced, entering rehab, having an affair, having a baby out of wedlock, getting busted for drug possession, or getting a DUI” I tend to think he is right, he does hear about that. What is more, I suspect he is right that these are actions that had been kept “in the closet” until they were exposed. So, in a sense, I suspect he is right, there are a lot of things we keep in our closets. Sadly, as a group, we are far from what we preach. Just about all of us can nod our heads in agreement with St. Paul’s lament in Romans 7.
However, when I look at his list I see things that just about everyone who does them keeps in their closet too. There aren’t a whole lot of people out there committing crimes et al who are proud of what they do. So while his warning that we ought not to pretend we are better than we are is valid; while we need to be always on guard against pretending personal moral superiority, the complaint that all that stuff is found among evangelicals it doesn’t make our closets unique.
What does make evangelical closets unique however is that there are things we often need to keep in there that others do not keep in their closets. If you are an evangelical and a Democrat, you often need to keep that too yourself. If you don’t see the possibility of same-sex marriage being legal in the U.S. as a spiritual calamity you are wise not to tell anyone. Sometimes our evangelical closets can be stuffed with all sorts of things that the outside world barely comprehends. Subject like Calvinism, speaking in tongues, drinking, end times views and the like become so sacrosanct that we need to hide differences in the closet.
In the end, while the author seems to think that dropping evangelicalism is the only wise choice, it seems to me that the lessons of the evangelical closet aren’t so drastic. Maybe all I need to do is –
– Bite the bullet and take my sins out of the closet and get help; help my fellow-evangelicals would be eager to give.
– Be more cautious about how I express my beliefs so that I do not transmit the idea I consider myself morally superior.
– Clean out my closet and discard all the non-essentials I have stored in there.
Christianity is centered on Jesus. While I believe it, and strive to emulate him, I can’t claim to be like him. And yes, I do know how annoying claims, or supposed claims, to personal moral superiority can be offensive. Anyone who has ever met a vegetarian or an animal rights activist knows how they can make you feel. I don’t want to claim to be morally superior, I’d just like to tell you about someone, Jesus, who is.