Robert Stapleton


A recent post on the social network Facebook by one who claims to be a preacher of the gospel, was brought to my attention. Some controversy had arisen between he and another preacher. The one whose post I am referring to argued his point with the use of profanity, calling the other preacher names that once used to cause parents to wash their children's mouths out with soap. When I was told this, I thought, "You've got to be kidding me?" But the sad truth is, the use of profanity has become common among those who profess to be Christians, even those who profess to be "gospel preachers." Recently, while speaking to a younger preacher, I was informed of "friends" of his who are also "preachers" who commonly speak in such "off color" ways that causes them to look more like people of the world than people belonging to the Lord (1 Peter 2:9). 


Imagine with me the Lord, sitting around with the disciples, leaning over and commenting with the use of crude, vulgar language about one thing or the other. Imagine, rather than His language having been "seasoned with salt" (Colossians 4:6), it was very much like the language of the common man who cared little or nothing for his speech. You say, "I can't imagine that." Exactly! So how can we imagine our doing something such as this given the fact that we profess to be "Christians"? Do we remember what the word "Christian" means? Does it not have reference to our being "Christ like"? When I hear things like this my thoughts go to a consideration of the common use of such language by those who should know better. It seems to me that anyone who would so casually throw around such words as those under consideration must be used to using them on a regular basis.


Think of Paul's words to Timothy as seen in 1 Timothy 4:12, "Let no man despise thy youth; but be thou an example of the believers, in word, in conversation, in charity, in spirit, in faith, in purity." Paul stressed that Timothy was to be "an example of the believers, in word,…" This was a reference for the need for Timothy to be a good example in his speech. As Wayne Jackson said, "Harsh, condescending, and insulting words do not carry the day,…" (Before I Die, p. 125). Paul, further, wrote of the need for Timothy to be "an example of the believers,…in purity.," which speaks to the need for Timothy to be sinless in his life.  As preachers, we look to the books of Timothy and Titus for assistance in how we are to conduct ourselves today. Can we not learn something from these words also? Is there not just as great a need for us to be pure as there was for Timothy?


An article appeared on a brotherhood internet publication dated September 7, 2009 entitled, "KY preacher arrested for rape." The article went on to say, "He (the preacher – R.W.S.) then told authorities (he) had traveled out of the state and had consensual immoral relations with a 13-year-old girl over the weekend." Needless to say, as I read this I could not help but to think, "you've got to be kidding me?" Here is a man who preyed upon the innocence of a young girl hardly old enough to know better. Here is a man who is to be, once again, "an example of the believers,…in purity." What was going on in his mind? What could cause a "Christian" to think of doing such a thing, much less one who preaches the gospel? Could he not have understood the consequences for his actions beyond the legal ones? What long range damage has been done to the cause of Christ in that community? What of those who parrot the "preachers are nothing more than hypocrites" accusation? Has he not given them "evidence" of such?


The phone rang. "Hello, brother Stapleton, this is_____________. How are you doing?" So the conversation began. Not long into it, though, came the confession that he had "cheated on his wife." Again, the haunting thought, "you've got to be kidding me?" Who was this, you ask? A graduate of the school. A "gospel preacher." He sat in on the classes. He heard it said repeatedly, "flee fornication" (1 Corinthians 6:19). He knows what the Book says on fornicators and fornication (1 Corinthians 6:9; 6:13; 10:8; Galatians 5:19; Ephesians 5:3; Colossians 3:5;            1 Thessalonians 4:3). He can't plead ignorance. Yet, he is telling me that he gave into the "lust of the flesh."


The article stated, "A former Church of Christ minister has been sentenced to 15 years in federal prison for torching or vandalizing 4 Mormon churches, including one where his ex-lover was the organist." It went on to say, "______________went on his rampage because he was upset when the organist, ________________, broke off their 8-year affair in 1998, saying her Mormon faith bars her from getting a divorce." Need I say it? "You've got to be kidding me?" Here, a married man, who knows better or, at least, should know better, that carried on an "8-year affair" (better known in the Bible as 8-years of adultery).  How I wish I could say, it was a joke (no doubt a "sick one"), but it wasn't. There is no getting around it. Another "soldier" of the cross is weakened by his willingness to satisfy worldly lusts.


Another article stated, "A youth minister of the Church of Christ has been arrested after allegedly sending nude pictures of himself to a 14-year-old girl over the internet. Police said ___________ sent her four photos of him seated nude on an exercise bike at the church after talking to her in an Internet chat room. The girl showed them to her mother who alerted the police." "You've got to be kidding me?" Surely not? Not one who has been entrusted with our precious children? There is just no way! But there was.


Still yet another which stated, "YOUTH MINISTER CHARGED. _________ Church of Christ youth minister ___________________, 41, was charged with 21 counts of child molestation for molesting a young boy for a year. _______________ had admitted to being a pedophile during a counseling session." Even in the face of sounding repetitive, I've got to ask again, "you've got to be kidding me?"


But we aren't finished. Consider this article, "COUNSELING VICTIM GETS $300,000. The _____________ Church of Christ & its former minister ________________ agreed to pay $300,000 to a man whom ____________ sexually assaulted during family counseling sessions." Again, "you've got to be kidding me?" A well known congregation of the Lord's people. If I called their name, you would recognize it. But they fell prey to the devices of the Devil, of which they should have been aware (2 Corinthians 2:11).


What of this statement from a book written several years ago? "Perversion has become quite a problem in Nashville. Many of you may remember the raids carried out by the police in our local Centennial Park just a few years ago. This was a well know hangout for male homosexuals. You may be surprised to know that the largest number of male homosexuals that the police picked up in Centennial Park were teachers and preachers. Preachers in Churches of Christ were the second most numerous mentioned." (Pettus, Robert, M.D., As I See Sex through the Bible, p. 12). "You've got to be kidding me?" Not homosexuality? Surely not? But, it cannot be denied.


Just a few years ago a study was conducted among members of the churches of Christ on the subject of internet pornography. Those questioned were "members of the church of Christ. 4,210 completed surveys used in analysis." The results were staggering.  "57% of men (remember, we are talking about members of the churches of Christ – R.W.S.) have intentionally viewed Internet pornography, 15% of women have intentionally viewed Internet pornography." (emphasis mine, R.W.S.)  Do I need to ask it? "You've got to be kidding me?" I have the survey laying on my desk as I write this. Shocking, to say the least. Revealing of the dangers we are confronted with, as we "wrestle" against the evil of the world about us (Ephesians 6:12).


So, why bring all of this up? Why "air our dirty laundry"? Have I got something against the church? No! But I do have something against those who are treating the precious body of Christ in such a way as these are. Do you remember Paul's words to Timothy as seen earlier, "Let no man despise thy youth; but be thou an example of the believers, in word, in conversation, in charity, in spirit, in faith, in purity." (1 Timothy 4:12)? As Christians and preachers of the gospel we need to get our "act together." We need to fill our minds with God's Word so as to not sin against Him (Psalms 119:11). We need to get things in order, and start thinking on the things God would have us to think on (Philippians 4:8). We need to clean out our hearts of the wickedness that is there, and fill them with the purity of the word of God, "Blessed are the pure in heart: for they shall see God." (Matthew 5:8). We need to "Flee…youthful lusts:…follow righteousness, faith, charity, peace, with them that call on the Lord out of a pure heart." (2 Timothy 2:22).


We cannot continue to cause such harm to the Lord's church and His Cause, as so many have done in the past. It is time for us, as preachers, to stand where the Lord would have us to stand, against the evil that is before us.







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