Larry Ray Hafley

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Contending for the Faith

Should We Criticize Error?
(Correspondence on the Question)

(Editor's Note: The following correspondence between Larry and a teenage girl's grandmother may be helpful to other parents and grandparents as they try to teach their children.)


    We had a discussion with our 16 year old granddaughter yesterday, and she is very upset with us and wants an answer to the discussion other than what we gave her.

    The discussion was over the news report about 2 gay men who had adopted a little boy, and they forced his school to do away with making anything for Mother's Day because it made him feel uncomfortable. (My husband) said it was wrong to force their ideal on everyone since they were living in sin. (Our granddaughter) said she thought we were gossiping and that we should not judge them and just pray for them and everything would be OK. (My husband) tried to tell her we were not judging them that God's word was judging them.

    She left us this note. Can you help us give the very best answer possible. She is a prime example of the thinking of our "church kids" today. Her Question:

      "Could you show me the verse where it says we are supposed to point out the wrong? I am just wanting to read it."

    Larry, we would really appreciate your help. We feel our answer can not be too lengthy or it will turn her off. She is 1st in her class in high school so she should be able to reason. It is very disturbing that our young people think, "Your OK I'm OK."

    We will be waiting for your answer.

Response To This Request

Here are some passages which deal with her request:

    "And have no fellowship with the unfruitful works of darkness, but rather reprove (expose) them" (Ephesians 5:11).

    "Cry aloud, spare not, lift up thy voice like a trumpet, and shew my people their transgression, and the house of Jacob their sins" (Isaiah 58:1).

    "Preach the word; be instant in season, out of season; reprove, rebuke, exhort with all longsuffering and doctrine" (2 Timothy 4:2).

    "Holding fast the faithful word as he has been taught, that he may be able, by sound doctrine, both to exhort and convict those who contradict. For there are many insubordinate, both idle talkers and deceivers, especially those of the circumcision, whose mouths must be stopped, who subvert whole households, teaching things which they ought not, for the sake of dishonest gain. One of them, a prophet of their own, said, "Cretans are always liars, evil beasts, lazy gluttons. This testimony is true. Therefore rebuke them sharply, that they may be sound in the faith" (Titus 1:9-13).

    "But when Peter had come to Antioch, I withstood him to his face, because he was to be blamed; for before certain men came from James, he would eat with the Gentiles; but when they came, he withdrew and separated himself, fearing those who were of the circumcision. And the rest of the Jews also played the hypocrite with him, so that even Barnabas was carried away with their hypocrisy. But when I saw that they were not straightforward about the truth of the gospel, I said to Peter before all, 'If you, being a Jew, live in the manner of Gentiles and not as the Jews, why do you compel Gentiles to live as Jews'" (Galatians 2:11, 14)?

    "As I urged you when I went into Macedonia - remain in Ephesus that you may charge some that they teach no other doctrine" (1 Timothy 1:3).

There are many more such passages, but perhaps these will suffice to show that we must "expose the unfruitful works of darkness" (Cf. Romans 1:26-31; 13, 13, 14; Galatians 5:19-21).

You might gently remind your granddaughter that if we must simply keep quiet and pray for those who are in error, why didn't she do the same with you? According to her reasoning, she should never have confronted you about your actions. Instead of making you feel "uncomfortable," ask her if she should not have kept quiet and simply prayed for you and your husband? It is a poor rule that won't work both ways. If her rule is true, she broke it by rebuking you. Ask her to answer her own question. Ask her to "show (you) the verse where it says (she is) supposed to point out the wrong?" Tell her that you are "just wanting to read it."

Also, you might ask her to explain Ezekiel 3:17-21 to you:

    "Son of man, I have made you a watchman for the house of Israel; therefore hear a word from My mouth, and give them warning from Me: When I say to the wicked, `You shall surely die,' and you give him no warning, nor speak to warn the wicked from his wicked way, to save his life, that same wicked man shall die in his iniquity; but his blood I will require at your hand. Yet, if you warn the wicked, and he does not turn from his wickedness, nor from his wicked way, he shall die in his iniquity; but you have delivered your soul. Again, when a righteous man turns from his righteousness and commits iniquity, and I lay a stumbling block before him, he shall die; because you did not give him warning, he shall die in his sin, and his righteousness which he has done shall not be remembered; but his blood I will require at your hand. Nevertheless if you warn the righteous man that the righteous should not sin, and he does not sin, he shall surely live because he took warning; also you will have delivered your soul."

Ask her if those verses teach that we should be silent when others sin. (If she says they are in the Old Testament, show her Acts 20:26, 27 — "I am pure from the blood of all men. For I have not shunned to declare unto you the whole counsel of God." Remind her, too, that such principles are written for our learning and warning — Romans 15:4; 1 Corinthians 10:6, 11) .

If a little girl raised by two lesbians was made to feel badly because she does not have a Father, should we also cancel Father's Day? Should we cancel Memorial Day (May 30th) since many of our Asian-American citizens may be offended at memorializing those who died defending our country against their ancestors? Shall we do away with Labor Day in September since it might offend welfare deadbeats who refuse to work and would rather live off the government dole? Obviously, I suppose we cannot mention such things lest we make them feel "uncomfortable." Frankly, this feeling of being "uncomfortable" works both ways, too.

Sadly, your dear granddaughter is simply showing the effect of soft, compromising teaching and preaching. If she has an honest heart, the passages will help her. Continue to teach her.