by Jeffrey W. Hamilton
Text: Proverbs 3:1-8
I. Years ago, an incident happened that makes a good illustration. An older woman bought a cup of coffee at a McDonalds, but not having a convenient place to set it, put it between her legs. As she drove off, the coffee sloshed and she ended up with burns.
A. Whose fault was it? Is it the restaurant’s fault for serving hot coffee?
1. No because people, including this woman, came to buy hot coffee. People don’t like lukewarm coffee.
2. The decision on where to place the knowable hot coffee was the woman’s
3. Yet it was the restaurant which was sued
4. In essence the restaurant was punished because in its clientele there were foolish people.
B. Given any sizable group, you are bound to find problems and sins cropping up.
1. But is it the group’s fault or the fact that people sin?
2. Yet, there is a tendency to lump the blame against the group instead of noting that we may have a problem with an individual.
C. As an example
1. There are hypocrites in the church. Is this something exclusive to the religious body or do you find hypocrites in other groups, such as the Republicans and the Democrats?
2. Do you only find mistreatment of other people in a church or does a business have to deal with rotten employees also?
3. Are there only cliques in a congregation or does the local atheists also have their share?
D. This is not a justification for sin or a call to accept sin. It is merely being logical that in a group, there will be sinners - I Corinthians 11:18-19
1. That is because, even as we strive to avoid sin, we all fall prey to it at times - I John 1:8, 10
II. Blaming God
A. I’ve had people tell me that they had turned away from Christianity because God didn’t stop their spouse from leaving them
1. They blame following God for their woes.
2. Yet, was it the individual or God who chose to end the marriage?
B. Is it not God who says He hates divorce? - Malachi 2:16
1. So when a person leaves his spouse, is it because God encouraged it or because he is being disobedient to God?
2. Why blame God for man’s disobedience? - James 1:13
C. When a loved one dies, is it God’s fault?
1. After all, God warned Adam and Eve not to sin because it would bring about death - Genesis 2:16-17
2. Do we forget that the tree of life was in the garden and Adam and Eve were told they could eat of it prior to their sin?
D. When a child is abused or killed, do we blame God for not stopping it?
1. After all, God is the one who opposes crimes against the innocent - Matthew 18:6-7
2. Notice the same theme. People are going to sin – some in horrific ways
a. It isn’t God’s fault that people disobey
b. You can only partly blame the world because it promotes bad behavior
c. But where the blame must squarely rest is on the person who chooses to sin - Ezekiel 18:20
III. Blaming the Church
A. While I don’t know when it may happen, I can pretty much guarantee that someone in the church will annoy me, insult me, or do me wrong
1. Does this make it the church’s fault?
2. The church teaches that we are to love each other - John 13:35
3. We are to strive to get along - Ephesians 4:31-32
4. So when disagreement arise, it is due to violating the churches teachings
5. Yet, people will leave churches, blaming the church as a whole, rather than dealing with problem individual.
B. By the way, the sad thing is that leaving changes nothing. Any other group is going to have a similar set of problems.
1. Unhappy people tend to bounce from group to group. Never finding the perfect group.
2. And never staying to solve the problems.
IV. Blaming Religion
A. I began thinking about this lesson when I ran across an article whose author was upset about a child molester being found in some religiously conservative group
1. The author started blaming all conservative Christian religions
2. I pointed out there are child molesters found in any sufficiently large group – for example, in public schools -- so to say it was due to conservative Christianity was a false accusation that showed the author had a greater agenda than just child molestation. I was surprised that I was attacked and was told that the churches of Christ were the greatest offenders in these realms
a. One, the churches of Christ were not involved in this particular story
b. Two, no evidence was given that it is more prevalent in any one particular group. (I know of only one religious group that has a significantly greater incident of sexual abuse of children, and it isn’t considered conservative in its beliefs.)
3. Child molestation is horrible. As noted God is particularly angry about these types of sins. But we can’t throw out reason because an emotion stirring, grievous sin was done.
B. The second claim was that the religion is unable to deal with sexual sins. That it requires expertise that is not found in religion
1. Pardon? Sexual sins are sins. The church’s mission is change the world and remove sin.
2. Given the track record of modern psychology in affecting a lasting change in people, I believe the evidence is the other way around.
C. The third claim is that sexual offenders can’t change.
1. I believe this is an outgrowth of the lie that homosexuals can’t change their behavior.
2. The Bible states this is false - I Corinthians 6:11
3. Christianity is about the radical change of people - II Corinthians 7:10-11
4. If you believe people can’t change, then of course you won’t affect a change. But Christ is in the business of changing lives completely and totally.
5. Do we accept the wisdom of this world over the wisdom of God? - I Corinthians 3:19-20
D. Are there child molesters hiding in the church? Yes. There are sinners of all sorts in every group, given a large enough sample
1. But should the blame be on the religion that teaches against sin or on the sinner who violates that teaching?
V. To deal with problems, we need to be objective in pinpointing the source
A. We can’t be lax, thinking that sins can never occur here - I Corinthians 10:12
B. But we can’t abandon God’s ways of dealing with problems by blaming the wrong thing - Proverbs 3:5-7