Jerry Falwell, Jr. was one of the first evangelical leaders to endorse then-presidential candidate Donald Trump in 2016. Consequently, he has become inextricably linked to the president. For that reason alone, liberals are quick to attack him.
And Falwell gave them an easy target last week when he posted a photo of himself and a young woman, both with their zippers down and midriffs exposed. I could go into more detail about the inappropriateness of the photo, but I won’t.
Admittedly, I was shocked when I first became aware that he had actually posted such a photo. However, as a fellow believer, I’m giving my brother the benefit of the doubt and refusing to jump to conclusions.
Of course, the photo was quickly removed (after plenty of screenshots were captured). Falwell later explained the woman was his wife’s pregnant assistant who couldn’t zip her shorts. He said it was “just in good fun” but has apologized for embarrassing her.
The photo was taken on a yacht during his family vacation. The themed costume party was based on Trailer Park Boys, a TV series rated 18+, jam-packed with sex, drugs, and profanity. Falwell and the other partygoers were, at best, mocking, or, at worst, celebrating its content, as revealed in the viral video from the party. Either way, the fact that they were familiar enough with the show to portray its specific players is problematic.
My point in presenting this information is not to attack Falwell. Grace is available to him as it is to every one of us.
I hope and pray that Falwell will use his indefinite leave of absence from his role as president of Liberty University (started this week) to draw close to God, to humbly agree to mentorship by one or more wise, godly men, and be restored in every way.
In the meantime, let’s be reminded that, as believers, every one of us is in the public eye. We are being watched by others. And we are to conduct ourselves in a way that brings glory to God.
As I consider this truth, and I look at my own life, I am convicted. And I’m grateful. Conviction reminds us that we are weak and in need of Christ’s indwelling presence, not just daily, but moment-by-moment.
Scripture advises, prepares, and warns us about the manner in which we are to live our lives. It matters in every facet of life – how we behave on our vacations, how we treat others who have fallen prey to temptations, and how we behave after falling short ourselves. In each of these situations, we can reveal the character of Christ. His Word has given us instructions for every circumstance and condition of the heart. It is:
[L]iving and active, sharper than any two-edged sword, piercing to the division of soul and of spirit, of joints and of marrow, and discerning the thoughts and intentions of the heart (Hebrews 4:12).
It’s one thing for our behavior to serve as a poor representation of a ministry, organization, or person in a position of influence – for example, the President of the United States.
But as followers of Christ, we are His representatives – His ambassadors. And what is our purpose? To help others be reconciled to God (2 Corinthians 5:20).
Imitate God, therefore, in everything you do, because you are his dear children. Live a life filled with love, following the example of Christ. He loved us and offered himself as a sacrifice for us, a pleasing aroma to God.
Let there be no sexual immorality, impurity, or greed among you. Such sins have no place among God’s people. Obscene stories, foolish talk, and coarse jokes—these are not for you (Ephesians 5:1-4).
We are set apart as a peculiar people. The world will do what it does.
But you are a chosen race, a royal priesthood, a holy nation, a people for his own possession, that you may proclaim the excellencies of him who called you out of darkness into his marvelous light (1 Peter 2:9).
This is exactly why a Christian university like Liberty has a student honor code that specifies things like the following:
Do you remember when the media went crazy when news of Vice-President Pence got out concerning the guardrails he has placed around himself, not allowing himself to be in a room alone with someone of the opposite sex?
I realize some of you reading this think his personal policy is overkill. But wouldn’t you rather be attacked for being overly cautious than accused of doing something really stupid?
We have more than our own reputations to think about – and more than our own souls to be concerned about.