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Former President George W. Bush
Associated Press/Photo by David J. Phillip
Former President George W. Bush

Bush deflects sin question

Religion

In a recent interview, an ABC News correspondent asked former President George W. Bush whether lying and adultery conflict with Christian values. Bush paraphrased Matthew 7:3-5: “I shouldn’t be taking a speck out of someone else’s eye when I have a log in my own. … I meant it’s very important for people not to be overly critical of someone else until you’ve examined your own heart.”

Actually, the correspondent didn’t ask Bush about lying and adultery. He asked about homosexual marriage. But the answer to the pretend question and the real question is the same. Yes, lying, adultery, and homosexual marriage conflict with Christian values. The difference is liars and adulterers don’t have powerful lobbying groups or Western media to propel these sins into mainstream acceptance.

I understand why the former president wanted to avoid the simple, clear answer, but I think he should have opted for a no-comment deflection instead of a misapplied-Scripture deflection. In the Sermon on the Mount, Christ warns us about judging others, because “with the measure you use, it will be measured back to you.” Is Christ forbidding us to call out sins and sinners? Of course not. We must evaluate and assess, but He offers guidance:

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“[H]ow can you say to your brother, ‘Let me remove the speck from your eye’; and look, a plank is in your own eye? Hypocrite! First remove the plank from your own eye, and then you will see clearly to remove the speck from your brother’s eye.”

The operative word is “hypocrite”—one who, in this context, condemns homosexuality as sin and judges homosexuals as sinners but engages in the sin himself. If Bush were such a man, in this context, he’d certainly have to remove the plank from his own eye before attempting to remove a speck from someone else’s.

Christ doesn’t condemn judgment per se. He condemns judgment offered in the wrong spirit. We make judgments every day. We teach children what’s right and wrong. We call out sinners and warn the unrepentant of the coming wrath. We also remember that the final Judge will judge us accordingly. The same standards by which we judge others we must use to examine ourselves.

Bush’s answer might not seem important in the scheme of things, but it perpetuates the old judge-not-lest-ye-be-judged tactic that unbelievers are fond of using. Even the unrepentant know that Christ couldn’t possibly have meant we can’t judge at all. The homosexual lobby’s attempt to shame Christians for opposing perversion is proof of that. They judge us for opposing them.

No, even they understand that people can and should make judgments. They even understand that God is the final judge. What they want is for us to stop calling a sin a sin and making them feel ashamed. They want total, mainstream acceptance, and, in some cases, adulation. Celebration! The Bible teaches us that those who practice sexual immorality and other sins are deserving of death. And not only the practitioners, but also those who approve.

La Shawn Barber
La Shawn Barber

La Shawn writes about culture, faith, and politics. Her work has appeared in the Christian Research Journal, Christianity Today, the Washington Examiner, and other publications

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