Especially on social media. We shouldn’t discuss the wrongdoings of Christian leaders for the world at large to gawk at.
So again we look to our Example. Picture Jesus standing up in public and lambasting the highly-respected Pharisees in the harshest imaginable terms.
Ordinary people, people like us, are listening to His descriptions of these high and holy men (“vipers” comes to mind) and information about what these high and holy men are doing in secret (“devouring widows’ houses” comes to mind), and someone says, “I can’t believe he’s airing our dirty laundry.”
Surely there’s a better way to handle this. Surely Jesus should go to them in private. Surely we can quietly help the widows whose houses have been devoured without having to hang up all that filthy laundry for everybody to gawk at. It’s so . . . embarrassing.
I’m not a fan of the expression, but since it’s popular, I’ll run with it. Let’s say some clothes belonging to some Pharisees and others have been horribly . . . dirtied. Body waste? Other body fluids? Blood? It’s bad.
What needs to happen is that this dirty laundry needs to be hauled outside to that big tub of steaming water and lye soap, to be washed clean and then yes, to be hung out and “aired” dry by the strong wind and the purifying rays of the sun. But instead, these Pharisees stuff all this filthy laundry in a corner of a secret room. Year after year they pile it higher and higher.
And they ignore the fact that there is occasionally a broken, wounded body stuffed in there with the dirty laundry. Pile something else on top. Look fancier, cleaner, handsomer, more beautiful. Look like a show window. Make more rules so people won’t notice, make a rule that they can’t even look in the direction of that room or whisper about it. Pray louder, longer, more publicly.
And the pile grows higher.
Jesus cries out, “Open the doors to your secret room! You have absolutely filthy laundry in there! Look! There are even wounded people in there, in the pile of filthy laundry!”
The Pharisees are angry . . . and they want to kill Him.
Maybe there are some people today who are similar to the Pharisees. Maybe there are some Christ-followers and others who have discovered a secret room full of dirty laundry.
Some of us may be crying out, “Open the door! Pull out that terrible laundry! Get it clean! What about the broken people in that pile?”
Do you really think we want to hang up the dirty laundry just for everyone to gawk at? No more than Jesus wanted to. We want those who are hiding it to haul it outside to that big tub of steaming water and lye soap, to be washed clean and then yes, to be hung out and “aired” dry by the strong wind and the purifying rays of the sun.
We want those broken bodies in there to be acknowledged and tenderly cared for, as the Samaritan did for the man on the side of the road, when the priest and Levite wouldn’t even get near him lest they soil their fancy garments.
If you believe that what we’re doing is simply airing dirty laundry (and just to be perfectly clear, that’s not what we’re doing), then you must seriously consider that Jesus was doing the same thing.
What I suggest instead is putting this expression to rest forever. No, we don’t want to “air our dirty laundry for the world to gawk at,” but if gawking is what happens when sin is exposed (as it surely did when people came to realize that the Pharisees didn’t belong on the pedestals where they had placed them), then so be it.
May God use it to do a great cleansing work in institutions and individuals. May He use it to drive hearts to Himself.