Hypocrisy. It's one of the first things people pick up on about people of faith. In fact, it's what, as a teen-ager, drove me out of the church for a time. Until, that is, I realized that I myself was also a hypocrite and needed help with that.
So when, for instance, Christians preach the gospel of no sex before marriage but then don't practice that, people dismiss them as hypocritical and unworthy of investigating to see if Christianity might be a faith they want to follow or at least explore.
And hypocrisy is exactly what has raised its two-faced head in a new survey about what Christians who consider themselves evangelical say and do about premarital sex.
As this report notes, evangelical Christians are just as likely as anyone else to engage in sexual activity prior to marriage, no matter what they say.
This information and more is to be published in an upcoming edition of Relevant magazine.
Maybe we should think about preaching for good values as much as we preach against destructive values. If we don't always manage to live up to those high values we may seem more forgivable than when we preach against certain thiings and then do them anyway.
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EUROPE, MEET CHRISTIANITY
As nearly everyone knows, Christendom is dead in Europe. The question is whether Christianity detached from the burdens of Christendom can make a comeback there. Pope Benedict XVI hopes so and now is calling for a re-evanglization of the continent. My guess is that if he's offering essentially what Europeans already have rejected it won't fly. But if Christians of all varieties can find new, effective ways of sharing the gospel there's an opportunity to connect with people who are searching for meaning -- which is all of us. Same goes for the U.S.
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P.S.: At 9:30 a.m. this Sunday I'll be speaking at St. Thomas Episcopal Church of Overland Park, Kan., with Father Gar Demo and Rabbi Jacques Cukierkorn about "Israel Yesterday, Today and Tomorrow." The three of us will be leading a Christian-Jewish study trip to Israel in April. We'll do the same class at 9 a.m. on Sunday, Nov. 13, at Second Presbyterian Church in Kansas City. And on Friday, Oct. 21, Father Demo and I will speak about what Israel means to us as Christians at Rabbi Cukierkorn's congregation, Temple Israel of Greater Kansas City.