Gracemen and lawmen...

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When we look at Denny Hastert, we see a man we're relieved to hear was the longest-running Speaker of the House. Bumbling, always a smile, self-deprecating; he's a man so he's not Hillary; he's adipose and frumpy so he's not Cruz; there's not a macho bone in his body so he's not The Donald. It's icing on the cake that he's a Wheaton alum, his base is Joliet (Joliet?), and his springboard into politics was the office of a high school wrestling coach. It's all good, right? Very, very good.

So what's the angle?

Some would accuse the man asking that question of being cynical. Those "some" would likely be good church-going citizens whose Christian faith goes as deep as "judge not" and "love always expects the best." These "some" sit under preachers whose sermon every week tells them "you're much worse than you could ever know, but God's grace is much deeper than you could ever imagine" as a way of reassuring them their sin doesn't matter because... Ta-da-da-dum! Jesus did it all! It's all of grace! Just believe the Gospel and everything you've ever done and do still today will never matter. Only one life, 'twill soon be past; only the grace of God will last.

Here's where it gets interesting. The FBI announces they've caught Speaker Hastert in a money laundering scheme. When they question him, he claims his former high school student is extorting him. Who would doubt it? After all, this is frumpy, bumbling, self-deprecating, tubby-cute Speaker Hastert. He'd never lie, but he'd make a great mark for a greedy fraudster. Denny would pay up to avoid public scandal—he's from Joliet and unassuming. He doesn't care about money. He'd let them have whatever they demanded and keep quiet.

But it wasn't Denny's Senior Pastor who decided whether his story of being falsely accused and extorted was true. It was the FBI. And like forensic accountants, FBI men and women don't believe ingenuousness is next to godliness. They think it's sloth and they know if they give in to this weakness, they'll be useless in protecting...

the innocent and they'll get fired.

Unlike the conservative Protestant church today, the FBI believes in total depravity and the world is a better place for it.

So the FBI listened in on phone calls between Speaker Hastert and his supposed false accuser, and those conversations proved the accusations were true. Speaker Hastert had molested children he coached and he went on to plead guilty to the charges against him.

Now then, what about his sentencing?

Here is where it gets shameful. Speaker Hastert has friends in high places and those friends wrote the judge testimonial letters pleading for leniency. Take, for instance, this letter written by his close friend and brother in Christ, Tom Delay, who was the Republican majority leader under Hastert fifteen years ago. This week Delay sent this message to the judge:

We all have our flaws, but Dennis Hastert has very few. He is a good man that loves the Lord. He gets his integrity and values from Him. He doesn't deserve what he is going through. I ask that you consider the man that is before you and give him leniency where you can.

Is this a true demonstration of the grace of Jesus Christ? Is it a right application of God's tender mercy? Would leniency for Speaker Hastert make our nation a safter place for the weak, the vulnerable, the poor, and children?

No doubt Delay's appeal is very enticing, especially to Christians. Let bygones be bygones. He who is without sin among us, let him cast the first stone. Love believes all things, hopes all things.

But as the conversation goes on, one man is dead and his sister is convinced his death is directly attributable to Speaker Hastert's sodomitic abuse of her brother back when he was a child serving the wrestling team under Coach Hastert. Let bygones be bygones?

Her brother is dead and she blames Speaker Hastert for his death. Her brother was corrupted by Coach Hastert and Speaker Hastert's friends appeal for leniency, saying Speaker Hastert "doesn't deserve what he is going through?" Can Tom Delay be serious? Does Congressman Delay have a pastor or elders, and do they know the scandal he is causing the Name of our Lord Jesus Christ?

It is so very sad what has come out about our brother in Christ, Denny Hastert. So unutterably sad. Sad for his wife. Sad for his family. Sad for everyone who looked up to him and thanked God for his humble Christian witness. I would be willing to serve Speaker Hastert's sentence for him, but only on the condition that he not have any plea for leniency.

Child abuse corrupts children and must not be treated as a foible or indiscretion. Homosexual child abuse is wickedness and the Christian man must not flinch in saying so.

We love our brother in Christ, Denny Hastert. But at the same time, with no apparent or real contradiction, we tremble at the specter of the wrath of God against such wickedness. Remember our Lord's warning, that it would be better for those who cause one of His little ones to stumble to have a millstone put around their neck and be thrown into the sea. Crimes we're tender towards are crimes that multiply, and none of us want the corruption of children to increase—least of all, I would think, my brother in Christ, Denny Hastert.

The grace of the Holy Spirit at work in Zaccheus led him to repent of his sins and say to the Lord:

Behold, Lord, half of my possessions I will give to the poor, and if I have defrauded anyone of anything, I will give back four times as much.  - Luke 19:8

No leniency here. No tender Christian pleading for Zaccheus to be able to keep all his money.

Repentance—true repentance—and reparations go hand in hand.

Hearing Zaccheus, Jesus declared:

Today salvation has come to this house, because he, too, is a son of Abraham.  - Luke 19:9

If there's any way I may help bear the weight of Speaker Hastert's sins, I'm willing. He is my brother in Christ.

Tim Bayly

Tim serves Clearnote Church, Bloomington, Indiana. He and Mary Lee have five children and big lots of grandchildren.

Want to get in touch? Send Tim an email!