cover up

Here is my latest draft for Our Daily Journey, using a story from Carl Trueman’s Histories and Fallacies, p. 63-64. Any suggestions for improvement are always appreciated. Thanks!

read > Joshua 7:1-26

Then Joshua said to Achan, “My son, give glory to the LORD, the God of Israel, by telling the truth. Make your confession and tell me what you have done” (v. 19).

 Historians weren’t sure if there was any truth to the rumor that the Reformer Huldrych Zwingli had been sexually promiscuous with the daughter of a prominent citizen. Misbehaving priests were not uncommon in the 16th century, yet such gossip seemed like something his Roman Catholic enemies might spread to discredit Zwingli and his Reformation. The ambiguity lasted until the 19th century, when Johannes Schulthess discovered a letter written by Zwingli in the archives in Zurich. There Zwingli admitted that the charge was true but insisted he was now committed to a chaste life.

        Schulthess didn’t want to tarnish the legacy of his hero, so he showed the letter to his student and then held it in the flame of his candle. After a moment he had second thoughts, and he pulled the letter away to preserve what was left. He turned to his student and proclaimed, “Protestantism is the truth in all circumstances.”

        It’s tempting to cover up a friend’s ugly sin, but ultimately we are causing more harm as we delay the inevitable. I know a missionary who sexually abused children on the field. Rather than turn him over to the police, his missionary agency brought him home for unspecified reasons. Thirty years later, the now adult women are telling the world what he did. They are still searching for healing, and the reputation of the man and the agency are shot.

        Proverbs 28:13 states, “People who conceal their sins will not prosper, but if they confess and turn from them, they will receive mercy.” If this is true, then we do our friends no favors when we cover for them or excuse their sin. They need us to do for them what they are unwilling to do themselves—expose their sin and call them to repentance. This may be the hardest conversation you will ever have, but if you love them, it’s what you must do.


Add yours →

  1. Jonathan Shelley August 17, 2012 — 8:02 am


    I would consider changing “expose their sin” to “confront them about their sin” in the last paragraph. “Expose” seems to convey making it public, like I should tell the whole world about it, whereas (for me atleast) “confront” brings to mind Christ’s teachings about how we are to handle our brothers and sisters who are still captive to sin and need the love of the body of Christ to overcome their sinful ways.

    PS – love the Scriptural reference to Achan for this devotional.

  2. Good catch, Jonathan. Correction made, and thanks!

  3. The idea that Achan could glorify God by telling the truth about his sin fascinates me. Typically I think about all of the personal benefits that I will experience when I confess my sin (e.g. feelings of joy, better relationships with others, or a renewed appreciation for the love of God). Yet, Achan is challenged to glorify God by telling the truth about his sin even as he stood before his countrymen clothed in shame and guilt. Though the grizzly penalty for his selfishness was moments away, it wasn’t the worst moment in His life! He had yet one more opportunity to glorify God!

    How awesome is God to be glorified when we tell the truth about the wrong we have done or help a fellow believer do the same!

  4. I don’t believe that the word choice of “expose” is wrong. Your own example of the missionary makes my point precisely. The missionary doctor’s sin was indeed confronted. However, because it was not exposed (the loving and ethical thing to do both biblically and civilly), he was able to have access to more children for three more decades. In that same missionary story, the primary victim of abuse was the target of another man in spiritual leadership at her home church. When he learned of her past he reached out to her “to minister”. Before long he persuaded her to run away with him. She did and it was soon discovered that he had a history at his previous church with another woman. It, too, had been confronted but not exposed, allowing him to take this new position at the new ministry and having access to this young lady. Sadly, again, it was confronted but not exposed and his ministry continues in a new location to this day.

    You see, exposure is a necessary part of the process. It must be done in the right spirit, with the right motives, and to the right audience, but it is an essential step.

    – DD

  5. You make a great point, Isaiah 618. From the victim’s point of view this may look very different. I can’t believe that one of these perpetrators is still in the ministry. God help us, and especially those women who must overcome such heinous abuse.

  6. Thank you for your cover-up comments. Please, whoever reads this and finds themselves in a similar situation, do whatever you have to do–expose, confront, go face to face, etc. Don’t expect a lot of support. You may be standing alone. Long story here, but I lived it and it wasn’t fun. I will say, however, that if you get through it once, you won’t hesitate a second to do it again. Coverups eventually lead to even more devastation.

  7. Isaiah6:18 comment reminds me of the verse that says to bring sin to the light that it may be made manifest or known. Confronting is one sided it is only part of the Matthew passage. it is then brought forth if not dealt with. It is exposed and made known. The unrepentant is part of the procedure, if they will not repent. If we do not repent we are in our sins still. Accepting Christ regards seeing our sin as God does- and accepting God’s method of forgiveness through Christ. How can someone come to repent of their sin if they are not exposed? David’s sin comes to mind. “You are the man.” Then David saw his sin for what it was . . .

  8. Sadly, this happens more than most realize. I too lived it and no one believed me. When I confronted the abuser, everyone in my extended family sided with him. If I had kept quiet, I could have kept my relationships with them. Still not sure I did the right thing.

  9. Yes, Proud2bmykswife, you absolutely did the right thing.

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