I've heard of Christians, conservatives and Republicans all called "closet homosexuals" or "closet racists" or "closet bigots" -- fill in the word -- misogynists, extremists, radicals.
Why do they never accuse someone of being a "closet Christian"?
Clearly the accusations above are to lead the listener to believe that the accuser "knows" the subject's "true" motive: While they act one way, their heart truly believes something else, something sinister.
Here's my defense:
1. You really don't know what is in someone's heart -- their true motive.
2. We're all born with natural tendencies, some of which are good, and others are bad. Murder is bad -- yet we all have gotten so mad that the thought crossed our minds. Still, most of us have never acted on it. Why?
-- Is it because we truly want to murder someone, but we're waiting for just the right time so that we may get away with it? How long would someone have to bottle up that anger and hatred long enough to wait for the "perfect" time? For everyone who has died without murdering someone, have they failed to carry out their true, inner nature?
-- Or is it because our parents taught us to practice restraint, and even forgiveness? We have withheld our ultimate revenge, the feeling has passed and now we can leave that anger behind. Perhaps anger can flare up again with a memory, but we tamp it down again, and again, and again because we are stronger and have learned how to control that anger.
It's the difference between deception and discipline. It is either a mask or maturity.
Neither one can be proven, which is why an accuser can get away with the criticism.
Yet we can challenge them to come up with proof, and they can flail about trying to defend their position with nothing but supposition.
And by relying on their own conclusions, we can attack their position with our own questions:
1. Why will you only consider the negative conclusion to your evidence?
2. Is it possible you are a cynic, or insecure?
3. Who determines if I am truly bad, based on your suppositions?
4. What does it say about the person who only sees the negative side of their opponents?
5. What does it say about the person who, instead of supporting his own position, attacks another's character?
Next, notice that the "closet" reference follows a natural disposition, rather than an educated or philosophical disposition.
The problem with the "closet" label is that it begs the question: Which natural tendencies ought to be released, and which ones inhibited?
And what is your standard for what ought to be released? Your own? Society? Neither has a fixed point of reference, a set of unmoving standards. One moves slower than the other, for sure, but, still, both are moving.
Yet the Bible gives us a set of standards that is unmoving. The Bible is done. Others have tried adding to it, but the original Bible still exists, thank God.
It is that standard which provides a point of reference. It also has a high bar. Yet many fail to see the forgiveness in the message and simply see it as judgment. We are all sinners -- we all have natural tendencies -- to sin, to do evil, to treat others poorly, to act selfishly. We are insincere, selfish, unkind, immature, scared and weak -- and we don't like it. So we try to covered it up with bravado, insults, and intellectualism.