I know my title may be a bit presumptuous but something dawned on me as I watched the Kevin Hart being unceremoniously forced out of his gig as host of the Academy Awards show: the same people who for years have insisted that Bible-believing Christians are sour, stuff-shirt, legalistic prudes have been projecting. It’s a little embarrassing that it’s taken me this long to figure it out.
And I don’t just mean the obvious hypocrisy. Everyone sees that. There’s not a person with a functioning brain that doesn’t realize that the “tolerance” crowd is unquestionably the most intolerant people you will ever encounter. No, this legalism is something more profound and enigmatic. But it’s also fairly clearly identified in God’s Scripture which cautions that all of mankind will be slaves to something – either to God or to sin.
And while being a slave to God’s law paradoxically liberates humanity to live in a state of joy regardless of circumstance, slavery to sin shackles both the heart to suffering and the mind to a perpetually unsatisfying self-indulgence. Living under such a burden, man finds himself in a futile pursuit of a liberation he can never achieve. “If only we could have this law, or stop people from believing that idea, we’d find what we’re after,” he reasons.
That is the very antithesis of grace, the very definition of legalism.
Now, see how that is hauntingly revealed in the Kevin Hart situation. Hart, like virtually all comedians, makes his living off irreverent jokes. He has poked fun at ideas, personalities, characteristics, and people so successfully that he rose to great notoriety. But the spirit of the age has decreed a strict forbiddance against anything but adoration and promotion of LGBT lifestyles. Hart’s history doesn’t comply.
As recently as 8 years ago, Hart’s Twitter feed bore evidence of the fact that he poked fun at gay behavior or identity. In order to maintain his credibility in the entertainment community he has since apologized for those remarks. But that wasn’t enough. Legalism doesn’t just demand penitence, it requires a Stalin-esque expunging of all offense, past or present.
Hart himself was incredulous:
“Guys, I’m almost 40 years old. If you don’t believe that people change, grow, evolve as they get older, I don’t know what to tell you. If you want to hold people in a position where they always have to justify the past, do you. I’m the wrong guy, man.”
The gatekeepers of our cultural morality agreed he was the wrong guy. Dissatisfied that he wouldn’t immediately offer rueful contrition and pledge money, time, and effort to advocate their legalistic creed, they continued pressuring Hart until he withdrew from hosting the high-profile event.
It is hardly surprising that concurrent with this ridiculousness, we are witnessing a host of comedians and public figures, most of whom would identify as left-wing or progressive-minded, send out the clarion call to delete old tweets. They realize the truth that under this progressive legalism, no one can keep the “law,” because it is ever-changing. What is acceptable today won’t be tomorrow, and there will be no forgiveness for those who were products of a different era. Their statues will be torn down, their legacies dismantled, their reputations trashed, and their memories torched. The irony being that the very ones doing the dismantling, trashing, and torching, will themselves meet the same fate when the new spirit of the age arrives.
There is an escape from this legalism, of course. It’s found in the only worldview that acknowledges man’s inherent nature towards sin, and washes it away in a sea of grace flowing from the nail-scarred hands of a risen Savior. It’s open to anyone, and I can’t fathom why anyone observing the alternative that surrounds us wouldn’t be persuaded.