Diary

Dear Penn Jillette, How Much Do You Have to Hate Somebody to Encourage Their Sin?

Not long ago, magician and all-around entertainer, Penn Jillette asked, “How much do you have to hate somebody to not proselytize? How much do you have to hate somebody to believe everlasting life is possible and not tell them that?”

Jillette, a professed atheist, surprised many with his questions on proselytizing. However, in his recent CNN commentary on Indiana’s RFRA Law, he seems to have forgotten his own words. For example, he states, “People want the right to not serve people because their well-established loving religion demands that to get into heaven they not make cake for people who are gay.”

Of course, no Christian I am aware of objects to making a cake for a same-sex wedding on the basis that doing so will keep them out of heaven. He should know this since he’s “read the Bible cover to cover.” The main Christian objection is that they do not want to participate in sin or encourage other people to do so. For example, any Christian should desire to avoid, both privately and professionally, the sins listed in 1 Cor. 6 such as sexual immorality, idolatry, adultery, homosexual activity, robbery, greed, drunkenness, etc. Therefore, in the same way that a Christian baker may decline making a cake for a same-sex wedding, a Christian cab driver might not drop someone off at a strip club, and a Christian convenience store owner might not sell beer to a drunken patron.

Consider Jillette’s past comments on proselytizing in light of his present thoughts on Christian religious liberty and sin. Just what does proselytizing have to do with not encouraging sin?

Instead of going through numerous Scriptures, I will just offer one that speaks to Christian conduct among unbelievers. Scripture states, “Keep your conduct among the Gentiles honorable, so that when they speak against you as evildoers, they may see your good deeds and glorify God on the day of visitation”  (1 Pt 2:12 ESV). In other words, remaining faithful to God and rejecting the encouragement of an unbeliever’s sin may actually lead to their conversion. Such an action is another way to proselytize.

Finally, Mr. Jillette asks a good question, “How much do you have to hate somebody to not proselytize?” He should consider a similar question which may help him understand the Christian business owner’s dilemma when called to go against their conscience before God. Indeed, he should ask: How much do you have to hate somebody to encourage their sin?

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Mark Lamprecht is a licensed Southern Baptist Minister, long-time blogger, and the owner of PulpitSupplyPreachers ministry. He lives in Metro-Atlanta with his wife and daughter working full-time during the day while also pursuing a Master of Divinity degree.

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