Where Can the Devil Be Found?
By Tony Campolo
Eric Hoffer in his seminal book The True Believer declared that a movement can exist without a god! Many movements have. The Nazi movement existed without a god, and Marxist/Leninist Communism was a movement that existed without a god. What Eric Hoffer goes on to say, however, is that no movement can exist without a devil. Certainly Hitler knew this, so he made the Jewish people to be the devil, and as such, had to be destroyed. He told the German people that all their problems, including their defeat in World War I, were because of the conniving of the Jews. We all know the horrors the Jewish people suffered because of this kind of evil propaganda that defined them as the devil. After World War II we Americans made the communists the devil, and we evangelicals preach sermons against the communist who we felt we’re everywhere to be found. I remember when the preacher in my home church called communism the greatest enemy that the church ever had to face, and that communism likewise had to be destroyed.
When the Berlin Wall came down Christians were left in a quandary. We Evangelicals needed a new devil to energize and grow our movement. We needed a devil that we said had to be destroyed, and with communism gone we established that devil to be in the gay community. To listen to some of our Evangelical brothers and sisters these days this becomes very clear. So many of them see gays as an enemy that must be stopped at all cost. In far too many cases Evangelicals have demonized gays and lesbians and have acted as though these homosexual people “are out to destroy the basis of Western civilization – the family”.
If you read the Hebrew Bible (the Old Testament) you will find that the ancient Jewish Prophets did something very different. They too believed that there was a devil that had to be destroyed, but they found that devil within themselves and their community. Whenever Israel was threatened, as they were by the armies of Sennacherib, the Prophets did not view their primary problem to be in the enemies of Israel, but to be what was in the hearts and minds of the people of Israel themselves. The Prophets, in the face of adversity, always called upon the people of their nation to examine themselves, to repent of their sins and to get right with God. They called upon the children of Israel to root out the demonic that was within their own lives. If they could do that and become yielded to God, then all would be well. It was not a devil outside of Israel that was viewed as their nations problems, so far as the Hebrew Prophets were concerned, rather it was the devil that was within the hearts and minds of their own people who were living in opposition to the will of God that was the problem.
We need prophets in this day and age who will stand against those who call gays and lesbians people who are demonically possessed. Homosexuals are not the devil who are the primary problem for American family life. Instead we need a strong call to righteousness within the heterosexual community. There is no question that family life in the Western world is falling apart. The divorce rate is high and the incidence of marital infidelity is scandalous. The number of maladjusted children coming out of dysfunctional families grows daily. In the face of these realities, we should realize, however, that families are in danger these days, for the most part, because of heterosexuals, not homosexuals. Heterosexuals are the ones getting divorces while the gays are asking if they can get married. If you can’t see the irony in that, then you have no sense or humor whatsoever.
When a friend of mine who is gay was told by a judgmental Christian, “I love the sinner but I hate his sin,” my gay friend responded, “That’s just the opposite of what Jesus said. Jesus did not say that we should love the sinner and hate his sin. Instead he told us to love the sinner and hate our own sin – and only then, when you are purged of your own sins, can you begin to talk about the sin we might find in the gays and the lesbians of the land”. Before heterosexual Christians look for the devil in the gay community, the should focus on the signs of demonic traits within themselves. When asking what is threatening family life in America it would be best if we first got rid of the beams in our own eyes before trying to ferret out the splinters in the eyes of our gay and lesbian brothers and sisters.
Think about these things. This brief set of comments is not anything more than to say to my Evangelical brothers and sisters, we need more self examination and less condemnation.