Reactions to John Crist’s Moral Failings Demonstrate Our Culture’s Confusion about Christianity

Popular Christian comedian and YouTuber John Crist has come forth with an admission of ongoing “sexual sin and addiction struggles” after multiple women exposed years of his sexually immoral behavior.

Social media is buzzing with commentary on Crist, and a good number of people are referring to him as a fallen Christian “leader.” There’s an important distinction to be made here: John Crist is a popular Christian, but that doesn’t mean anyone should consider him to be a Christian leader.

 

News broke yesterday [November 6, 2019] that popular Christian comedian and YouTuber John Crist has come forth with an admission of ongoing “sexual sin and addiction struggles” after multiple women exposed years of his sexually immoral behavior.

Honestly, my heart sank when I saw this. I love Crist’s videos. We watch them with our kids. In fact, our family had just watched one of his most popular ones, “Church Hunters,” this week! If you’re not familiar with Crist, he pokes fun at evangelical culture through his videos, and in a way that you can typically nod along with because they (unfortunately and humorously) hit close to home. Church Hunters, for example, is a parody that features a couple searching for a new church, but they’re considering all the wrong criteria…something all too common today. The video actually made for great discussion with our kids about how people DO look at the wrong things, and what is most important when considering a church home.

You can read a detailed article with the accusations and Crist’s own statement here. In that article and some common responses I’ve seen to it on social media, I’ve noticed three areas of serious confusion that both Christians and nonbelievers sometimes have about this kind of news:

Confusion 1: Thinking popular Christians are more immune to sin than others.

Honestly, I feel this point is so obvious that it’s embarrassingly uninsightful to point out. But consider this statement in the article from one of the women who says she was emotionally devastated by her encounters with Crist:

“I was truly blinded by his celebrity status…There were a few moments I thought, ‘Hey, this is kind of weird,’ but the same phrase kept playing through my head that stopped me from leaving: ‘It’s OK. He’s a Christian. He won’t do anything inappropriate.’”

The naivety of that last statement is mind blowing. A Christian wouldn’t do anything inappropriate? Somewhere along the way, the following biblical truth was lost for her:

All have sinned and fall short of the glory of God (Romans 3:23).

All.

While we may feel disappointed when we learn of the moral failings of Christians we appreciate, admire, or learn from, we should never be shocked. Christians are able to sin just as nonbelievers are. The Bible never claims that we become perfected in this life—only that when we put our trust in Jesus for forgiveness of our sins, we will someday stand before the Lord clothed in his righteousness (2 Corinthians 5:21). Of course, a saving faith doesn’t see that as a license to sin—we should never sin so that “grace may abound” (Romans 6:1).

Confusion 2: Assuming that popular Christians should be seen as church leaders.

Social media is buzzing with commentary on Crist, and a good number of people are referring to him as a fallen Christian “leader.”

There’s an important distinction to be made here: John Crist is a popular Christian, but that doesn’t mean anyone should consider him to be a Christian leader.

Equating the two things has become a real problem in our culture. Given the nature of social media, anyone can build a platform and influence others. But just because a person identifies as a “Christian” doesn’t mean they teach biblically sound doctrine or faithfully attempt to represent Jesus in their everyday lives. Leaders in the local church, however, are held to specific biblical standards in order to qualify as worthy of shepherding the flock (see Titus 1:5-9, for example).

One example of the confusion in this area is the following comment made by a woman on Facebook: “Crist’s exploitation of women was well-known for the past 7 years…The question is WHY were there no consequences and his career was allowed to flourish?”

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