A commenter on an older post writes:
We do not care what he has done in his private life, or in his dealings with [others]. We just know that he is a great speaker and we have always taken something good away . . . after listening to him speak . . . His faith, humor, wit, and his caring for the congregation, to lead us in the right direction, that is all that matters to us.
I'll be honest in saying that stuff like this scares the bejeebers out of me.
It doesn't matter what a person does behind closed doors, or how he treats those in close proximity to him, so long as he continues to perform well and inspire from the stage?
I'm sorry, but character matters. I believe I actually have more respect for the object of this commenter's adulation, because I think even the speaker referenced would say that what a man does behind closed doors is important. How one treats others when he's not in the spotlight matters. Otherwise it's just "talk," right?
The commenter appears, remarkably enough, to confirm this, to say that "Yeah, I don't care if somebody walks his talk so long as I enjoy his talk." And that, folks, is the shallowest (and most dangerous) approach to discipleship of all.
Let me flip the script a bit on this commenter, if he or she is still reading. Suppose you have a child in school whose teacher constantly verbally abuses her in private. Essentially, this teacher hates your kid and lets her know at every opportunity. But in general, the teacher is a capable and talented educator, and the average grade of the entire class is pretty high. Most parents and others see the teacher as a great person with lots of skill. But you know the teacher is terrifying your daughter behind closed doors.
Now ask yourself, how would this statement by another parent strike you: "We don't care what she does in private or how she treats individual students, we just know she's good at teaching."
Does that make sense to you?
The Bible actually says a few things about integrity, about what a believer does in "private life," about outward appearances and reputation versus character and secret dealings. Here's a sampling:
Whoever slanders his neighbor in secret, him will I put to silence; whoever has haughty eyes and a proud heart, him will I not endure.
-- Psalm 101:5
If anyone says, "I love God," yet hates his brother, he is a liar. For anyone who does not love his brother, whom he has seen, cannot love God, whom he has not seen. And he has given us this command: Whoever loves God must also love his brother.
-- 1 John 4:20-21
Woe to you, teachers of the law and Pharisees, you hypocrites! You are like whitewashed tombs, which look beautiful on the outside but on the inside are full of dead men's bones and everything unclean.
-- Matthew 23:27
Character matters. If that upsets your weekend spiritual entertainment, so be it.