The Pastor, the Male Stripper, and the Right Way to Admonish Sinners

By Nolan Lewallen Published on April 19, 2024

There continues to be much discussion on Pastor Mark Driscoll’s rebuke (from the pulpit) of the “male stripper” act at the Stronger Men’s Conference in Missouri. In case you missed it, you should read Dr. Michael Brown’s article on this bizarre event.

I know Missouri is the “Show Me State,” but I don’t think Pastor John Lindell should have put a male stripper out there to show his skin to the men in his church!

Ephesians 5:11 says, “And have no fellowship with the unfruitful works of darkness, but rather expose them.” According to Strong’s Concordance, the Greek word translated “expose” means, “to rebuke another with the truth so that the person confesses, or at least is convicted of his sin.” Isn’t that what Driscoll did to the conference organizers?

Some might argue, “But they were just having some fun. The performer only took his shirt off, which men do at swimming pools all the time.” I would respond to that argument with 3 John 1:11: “Beloved do not imitate what is evil, but what is good.” Wasn’t that performer perfectly imitating the evil act of a female stripper — complete with a pole?

The Appearance of Evil

Similarly, 1 Thessalonians 5:22 says, “Abstain from all appearance of evil.” Rick Renner explains:

By understanding the Greek words in this verse, we can interpret First Thessalonians 5:22 to read: “You need to terminate contact with any place, action, language, or relationship that gives people the impression that you are doing something wrong. It doesn’t matter what you think is acceptable; what matters is what other people perceive. So put a great deal of distance between yourself and anything you are doing that people could misinterpret and that could thereby stain your reputation.”

Public Rebuke for Public Sin

Moreover, 1 Timothy 5:20 makes it clear that there can be scenarios in which rebuking another publicly is appropriate. Paul told Timothy, “As for those who are guilty and persist in sin, rebuke and admonish them in the presence of all, so that the rest may be warned and stand in wholesome awe and fear.” I think it’s important to look at the last half of that verse to see the reason for rebuking someone publicly: “So that the rest may be warned.” The point is not to shame the offender, though that might necessarily happen too. I would argue that because this occurrence at James River Church has been so highly publicized that going forward, other pastors (being warned in awe and fear) will think twice about following suit with such a scandal.

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Some cite Matthew 18:15: “If your brother sins against you, go and tell him his fault between you and him alone.” I think Dr. Brown was absolutely right in stating that “Matthew 18 applies to matters of personal offense and sin.” So I think you could “cobble together” several scriptures and infer that a general rule of thumb could be Private Sin = Private Rebuke, Public Sin = Public Rebuke.

The conference organizers threw it out there in a very public manner. So, why should they be afforded the luxury of having the rebuke whispered in Lindell’s ear? Proverbs 27:5 tells us, “Open rebuke is better than secret love.”

If a church really want to be relevant, it should seek to conduct every aspect of its services under the direction of the Holy Spirit, not by what some so-called expert in a cubicle ata marketing company says. The fruits of the Holy Spirit are “love, joy, peace, longsuffering, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, self-control” (Galatians 5:22), and these never go out of style.


Nolan Lewallen is a retired pilot of a major airline and lives near Stephenville, Texas, with his wife, Kim. Nolan’s two greatest passions are the Bible and politics. His latest book, The Integration of Church & State: How We Transform “In God We Trust” From Motto to Reality, brings the two together.

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