The Double Standard

By J. Wiley Adams

“My brethren, have not the faith of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Lord of glory, with respect of persons” (Jas. 2:1).

“For there is no respect of persons with God” (Rom. 2:11).

“Then Peter opened his mouth and said, of a truth I perceive that God is no respecter of persons” (Acts 10:34).

God does not respect the rich over the poor. He does not value the Jew more than the Gentile. He does not regard the white man over the black man. Earthly prestige carries no weight at all in God’s evaluation of a person who is his child.

In view of this, why do we who call ourselves Christians sometimes set different standards for some in the church than for others? Why do some cater to the educated and well-to-do to the neglect of the uneducated and not so well-to-do. It is self-evident that this often takes place in some places. There are the haves and the have-nots. There are those among us who are still filled with racial bias. Brethren, these things ought not to be.

Preachers and their families are often the victims of a double standard. I mean by this that the brethren sometimes require more of the preacher and his family than of others in the congregation. If I understand it right there is one standard for all.

My children have always been taught that we do things because they are right and not because they are the preacher’s children. Being the preacher’s offspring does not mean there is a special manual for them to follow than for the others in the church.

Somebody once asked a preacher years ago why his children were so ornery. He replied that it could be that they played too much with the brethren’s children. Touche.

Why it is that some brethren can run around in scanty apparel but if the preacher and his family did this they would be subject to rebuke by the elders or others? Some brethren smoke but if the preacher or his wife smoked they might fire him. The brethren are often far less demanding of the elders than the preacher and his situation. Why? There is one standard for all. If it is right for one it is right for all. If it is wrong for one it is wrong for all. Elders themselves sometimes deal with the congregation at large with much tolerance but are more rigid on the preacher.

I have known of preacher’s children who became bitter because they were viewed as some kind of oddity by the other members. Some have seen their parents become victims of the double standard and have become furious and rebellious about religion. Indeed I have known of those who left the faith because of the resentment that had built up in them over the years. Is it any wonder that some young men with great ability do not go into preaching? They have seen and heard too much about the double standard.

Let me get on a `real’ touchy subject for a moment. Where a wife has died, after a reasonable period, some preachers found in that situation seek to remarry. Sometimes there are good brethren who have no problem with this provided both have a scriptural right to marry another. In other cases it is like dropping a bombshell.

Sometimes brethren, even elders, have a problem with this. Talk about living in a fish bowl! That couple really will be. The green-eyed monster of jealousy arouses some and the big mouths start talking. Meddling and busy-bodying become the dominant force with some who find this situation a juicy conversation piece. Elders sometimes lose their objectivity in such matters. The couple who is seeking a new happiness with each other instead are made to feel like outcasts. Excuse me but do the Scriptures teach us to rejoice with those who rejoice (Rom. 12:15)? Some who will weep with you find it difficult to rejoice with you. Why is this so?

I have stuck my neck out to write this article. Please let me hear from the readers on this. Correct me if I am wrong. Endorse me if I am right. I look for your response.

Guardian of Truth XXXIX: 1 p. 3-4
January 5, 1995