It is okay to be shocked by this situation, and it is okay if it takes time to process the information. Sadness is not an inherently sinful reaction. In fact, though he is not surprised, God is grieved by our sin. We are made in the image of God… complete with emotions! Various bits of information provided in various contexts will provoke different emotions in different people. Praise God for his design!

After watching the theological browbeating that had been taking place for all of those folks who were saddened and chose to voice it, I was extremely encouraged to read this piece by David Murray, which shows a theologically sound man expressing and articulating emotions he felt when he heard about Doug Phillips stepping down. I find David's experience and thoughts lining up closely to my own.

If you enter the virtual room to let us all know how awesome and smart you are, and of course how dumb we all are, you are falling prey to the same trap that got us into this discussion to begin with. No matter what level of education or what camp you're associated with, it is a grievous time when any man falls into sin! Quit wasting time and get on your knees.

3. Throwing in the Towel. While I think I have made it clear that I understand sadness as a response—and possibly even temporary devastation—I don't understand giving up. While a terrible thing, this is not the end of the world.

Christians are the only group of individuals who have the logical framework in place to even process a situation like this—a logical framework that makes sense of heavy issues such as why humans mess up, why leaders are hypocrites, and why there is evil in the world.

We are also the ones who have hope. Hope that despite the fact that none of us will ever be able to perfectly live out even our own teaching, there is Someone who lived perfectly for us already! The same Someone who took the punishment that Doug deserves for betraying his wife, and replaced Doug's faulty life with a perfect one. The same Someone who took the punishment that you deserve for fill in the blank, and replaced your faulty life with a perfect one.

The best thing we can do is leave justice in the hands of the only Judge who was ever, and will continue to be, perfectly just.

4. Breaking News. I suppose this is news, and I suppose that it was breaking when it first was made public. However this attitude of us passing around information like it's a commodity is bothersome to me. If you've ever watched the news and you happen to know the subject personally—unfortunately I have on more than one occasion—you know exactly what I am talking about here. We're distanced from the humanness of real life individuals who are stuck in the middle of some of the most hurtful times of their lives. The term dehumanizing was especially crafted for situations like this.

Whether in the context of Christendom or the world, we're prone to gossip and I hate to see this situation reduced to ear tickle candy and miss the glorious opportunity to see how God is continuing his story and working to sanctify those who are called according to his purpose.

Handle this information with care and handle this information with prayer. And do unto this repentant brother as you would be done to when you are the one repenting.

Finally, this seems like an important time to revisit some observations I had in a previous article where I talk about the internet and our reactions:

  1. The internet is not your church.
  2. Submit yourself to godly elders and sit under Gospel-centered teaching.
  3. Develop relationships with real people!
  4. The local church is your greatest tool. It is the most advanced system to give and receive the kind of mentorship and discipline necessary to successfully navigate and safely steward a platform.

Now it's your turn. How will you respond?