Limbaugh after being awarded the Presidential Medal of Freedom on
February 4, 2020
Politically, Limbaugh is a conservative Republican. He is witty; he is politically astute; he is informative. His program has even spun off its own unique vocabulary, including feminazi (extreme feminist), environmentalist wacko (extreme environmentalist), and dittohead (a Rush fan).
Limbaugh almost singlehandedly created the conservative talk radio phenomenon in America that includes Sean Hannity, Mark Levin, Michael Medved, Laura Ingraham, Michael Savage, Dan Bongino, Lars Larson, Dennis Prager, Ben Shapiro, and others at the national level, and a vast number of local celebrities. The Fox News Channel, founded in 1996, has ridden the wave of interest in conservative political news and comment. In 1992, Ronald Reagan called Limbaugh “the Number One voice for conservatism in our Country” (“Rush: The Leader of The Opposition,” National Review, Aug. 1, 2003). In February 2020, at President Donald Trump’s State of the Union Address, Limbaugh was presented with the Presidential Medal of Freedom.
There is no doubt that Rush Limbaugh has exercised a broad influence in America. Columnist Joseph Sobran said in a 1993 article, “You can’t ride to work or take your car in for repairs without hearing that distinctive Limbaugh sound. They play it in garages, taxis, offices. ... in an hour of Limbaugh you get more common sense, not to mention humor, than in an average week of The New York Times.”
From a conservative political standpoint, Limbaugh has some fine points. He has taken a stand for many conservative values and for constitutional law in the midst of a dominant news media largely dedicated to socialism, feminism, and other destructive philosophies.
What I am warning about in this article is Rush Limbaugh’s overall influence on Bible-believing and fundamentalist type churches.
I first found Limbaugh on the radio while traveling to preaching meetings on a cross country auto trip in 1991. The man is witty, entertaining, and politically astute. He was a breath of fresh air compared to the dominant liberal media.
In those days, we lived on an island north of Seattle, Washington, and prior to Rush’s appearance on a Seattle station in about 1991, there was literally nothing conservative available in the news media in that part of the country. That was true of the newspapers as well as television and radio. Conservatives simply did not have a voice. Rush changed that across the country, not only through his own program, but by opening the way for a slew of other conservative media personalities. Since the late 1990s, the internet has provided a larger forum for conservative voices, but Rush Limbaugh was the first to open doors for conservatives into anything like the mainstream.
As I listened to Rush, though, I became increasingly concerned about his influence in the lives of Bible-believing Christians and churches. Other men have expressed similar thoughts to me. I know that Limbaugh is widely listened to by fundamentalists in every part of the country.
Consider some reflections on Rush Limbaugh’s influence on God’s people. These same things are relevant to the whole field of conservative political commentary.
1. THE TIME FACTOR
Conservative news is addictive and can consume a great amount of time. Limbaugh is on for three hours a day, five days a week. That is a lot of time that could be spent doing things more constructive, even if one is in an automobile. For example, that is time that could be spent listening to good Bible preaching or listening to the Bible itself on audio or praying or memorizing Scripture.
I am very careful about the use of time. While I do check conservative news sources most days, I control it quite strictly. I don’t check in to any site throughout the day. I don’t allow any notifications from news sites or social media or even email. I don’t want to be on their beck and call. I schedule news research for a time slot in the evening and only a short slot at that. And this is true even though I have to keep up with the news to some degree for the Friday Church News Notes and O Timothy magazine. Every individual must give his own account to God for these things, but I am convinced that a great many of God’s people are carnally addicted to conservative news.
We agree with a pastor who wrote recently to say, “Many Christians have been reduced to foolish notions by allowing the inputs of Newsmax, Breitbart, Epoch Times, OAN, CFP, and other sources to totally twist them out of shape.”
2. LIMBAUGH IS A BAD MORAL EXAMPLE AND INFLUENCE.
“Whoso is partner with a thief hateth his own soul: he heareth cursing, and bewrayeth it not” (Prov. 29:24).
“His mouth is full of cursing and deceit and fraud: under his tongue is mischief and vanity” (Ps. 10:7).
“... let it not be once named among you, as becometh saints; Neither filthiness, nor foolish talking, nor jesting, which are not convenient: but rather giving of thanks. ... And have no fellowship with the unfruitful works of darkness, but rather reprove them” (Eph. 5:3-11).
“Finally, brethren, whatsoever things are true, whatsoever things are honest, whatsoever things are just, whatsoever things are pure, whatsoever things are lovely, whatsoever things are of good report; if there be any virtue, and if there be any praise, think on these things” (Phil. 4:8).
“... out of the abundance of the heart the mouth speaketh” (Matt. 12:34).
“Love not the world, neither the things that are in the world. If any man love the world, the love of the Father is not in him. For all that is in the world, the lust of the flesh, and the lust of the eyes, and the pride of life, is not of the Father, but is of the world. And the world passeth away, and the lust thereof: but he that doeth the will of God abideth for ever” (1 Jn. 2:15-17).
“Ye adulterers and adulteresses, know ye not that the friendship of the world is enmity with God? whosoever therefore will be a friend of the world is the enemy of God. Do ye think that the scripture saith in vain, The spirit that dwelleth in us lusteth to envy?” (James 4:4-5).
The Hebrew word for “bewray” in Proverbs 29:24 is translated “expose” in Isaiah 16:3 and “denounce” in Deuteronomy 30:18. God says it is wrong to listen to indecent language and not speak out against it. Ephesians 5:11 says the same thing. “And have no fellowship with the unfruitful works of darkness, but rather reprove them.” Not only are God’s people to have no fellowship with the works of darkness, we are reprove them, which means to expose, to speak against, to warn of. This is a good standard for all television shows, movies, radio programs. We should not listen to cursing, blasphemy, and vanity. Rather, we should fill our minds with pure things, because whatever we put in our hearts will come out in our lives.
Limbaugh calls himself “the epitome of morality and virtue,” but that is a mockery of virtue when measured by God’s Word.
He is not the epitome of marital virtue, having been married four times and divorced three. His first marriage, to Roxy McNeely, lasted from 1977 to 1980. His second marriage, to Michelle Sixta, lasted from 1983 to 1990. His third marriage, to Marta Fitzgerald, lasted from 1994 to 2004. In 2010, he married Kathryn Rogers.
Limbaugh is not the epitome of ecclesiastical virtue, because he is not a faithful member of a Bible-believing church.
He is not the epitome of virtue in daily living, because he fills his mind with wicked rock & roll and drinks and smokes and abused drugs (he underwent drug rehabilitation in November 2003) and uses indecent speech and shares bawdy jokes and does many other things that are condemned by God’s Word.
Listening to Rush’s music alone can have a negative effect on the spiritual life. One who listens to the full three-hour Limbaugh program will hear a lot of rock music. Listening to Rush’s music can act like “chum” to re-ignite carnal tastes. Further, it seems deeply inconsistent to tell our children not to listen to rock music when we listen to hours of it a week on Rush or other conservative news programs. Limbaugh hired the homosexual rocker Elton John to perform for his fourth wedding ceremony in 2010.
Limbaugh has given interviews to two pornographic magazines, Playboy and Penthouse; and when challenged about the propriety of accepting the Playboy interview he cursed and said, “----, go buy it anyway and hide it from your kids.” He also suggested that the Lord Jesus Christ would have given Playboy an interview. In 2006, Limbaugh, returning from a trip to the Dominican Republic, was detained by drug enforcement agents at Palm Beach International Airport for possessing a prescription to Viagra in another person’s name (“Rush Limbaugh Detained with Viagra,” CBS News, June 27, 2006). He was unmarried at the time.
Limbaugh takes the name of the Lord in vain, and this is no light matter.
“Thou shalt not take the name of the Lord thy God in vain; for the Lord will not hold him guiltless that taketh his name in vain” (Ex. 20:7).
“And ye shall not swear by my name falsely, neither shalt thou profane the name of thy God: I am the Lord” (Lev. 19:12).
Pastor Jerry Matson wisely observed: “My dearly beloved brethren, we must be careful concerning whom we follow. If your pastor were to use curse words from the pulpit would you be shocked? Would you follow his leadership? God says that He will not hold anyone guiltless who takes His holy name in vain. Our Lord said that ‘out of the abundance of the heart the mouth speaketh.’ Can bitter water and sweet come from the same fountain? We are not to follow vile men. Mr. Limbaugh regularly uses profanity over the air and in his writings.”
3. LIMBAUGH STIRS UP ANGER AND DISRESPECT TOWARD GOD-ORDAINED GOVERNMENT.
“Let every soul be subject unto the higher powers. For there is no power but of God: the powers that be are ordained of God. Whosoever therefore resisteth the power, resisteth the ordinance of God: and they that resist shall receive to themselves damnation. For rulers are not a terror to good works, but to the evil. Wilt thou then not be afraid of the power? do that which is good, and thou shalt have praise of the same. For he is the minister of God to thee for good. But if thou do that which is evil, be afraid; for he beareth not the sword in vain: for he is the minister of God, a revenger to execute wrath upon him that doeth evil. Wherefore ye must needs be subject, not only for wrath, but also for conscience sake. For this cause pay ye tribute also: for they are God’s ministers, attending continually upon this very thing. Render therefore to all their dues: tribute to whom tribute is due; custom to whom custom; fear to whom fear; honour to whom honour” (Rom. 13:1-7).
“Submit yourselves to every ordinance of man for the Lord’s sake: whether it be to the king, as supreme; or unto governors, as unto them that are sent by him for the punishment of evildoers, and for the praise of them that do well. For so is the will of God that with well doing ye may put to silence the ignorance of foolish men. ... Honour all men. Love the brotherhood. Fear God. Honour the king. ... For even hereunto were ye called: because Christ also suffered for us, leaving us an example, that ye should follow his steps” (1 Pet. 2:13-21).
“Put them in mind to be subject to principalities and powers, to obey magistrates, to be ready to every good work. To speak evil of no man, to be no brawlers, but gentle, shewing all meekness unto all men” (Titus 3:1-2).
“Thou shalt not revile the gods, nor curse the ruler of thy people” (Ex. 22:28).
“Let all bitterness, and wrath, and anger, and clamour, and evil speaking, be put away from you, with all malice” (Eph. 4:31).
“And the servant of the Lord must not strive; but be gentle unto all men, apt to teach, patient, in meekness instructing those that oppose themselves; if God peradventure will give them repentance to the acknowledging of the truth; and that they may recover themselves out of the snare of the devil, who are taken captive by him at his will” (2 Tim. 2:24- 26).
When listening to Rush Limbaugh, I found myself angry, bitter, and resentful toward my government leaders--the very leaders God tells me to honor and pray for.
4. LIMBAUGH STIRS UP FRETTING
“Fret not thyself because of evildoers, neither be thou envious against the workers of iniquity. For they shall soon be cut down like the grass, and wither as the green herb. Trust in the LORD, and do good; so shalt thou dwell in the land, and verily thou shalt be fed. Delight thyself also in the LORD; and he shall give thee the desires of thine heart. Commit thy way unto the LORD; trust also in him; and he shall bring it to pass. And he shall bring forth thy righteousness as the light, and thy judgment as the noonday. Rest in the LORD, and wait patiently for him: fret not thyself because of him who prospereth in his way, because of the man who bringeth wicked devices to pass. Cease from anger, and forsake wrath: fret not thyself in any wise to do evil. For evildoers shall be cut off: but those that wait upon the LORD, they shall inherit the earth. For yet a little while, and the wicked shall not be: yea, thou shalt diligently consider his place, and it shall not be” (Psalm 37:1-10),
Listening to Rush Limbaugh, I found myself becoming temporal-minded rather than eternity-minded, feeling hopeless and frustrated regarding the future, when in reality I should be looking for Christ every day and should be filled with hope because of the promises of God in Jesus Christ. This world is not my home; I’m just passing through! My true citizenship is in Glory.
I found myself fretting about the possible repercussions of the liberal democratic policies. But did not John the Baptist tell the people to be “content with your wages”? Did not Paul say, “Having food and raiment let us be therewith content”? Doesn’t Hebrews 13:5 tell us to “be content with such things as ye have: for he hath said, I will never leave thee, nor forsake thee”? Did not the Lord Jesus Christ say, “Therefore take no thought, saying, What shall we eat? or, What shall we drink? or, Wherewithal shall we be clothed? (For after all these things do the Gentiles seek:) for your heavenly Father knoweth that ye have need of all these things. But seek ye first the kingdom of God, and his righteousness; and all these things shall be added unto you?” (Mat. 6:31-33). I believe God is telling me not to act like the unsaved regarding money and security in this world. I am to work hard and trust God to take care of me now and in the future. I am to witness to this unbelieving world by my faith in God, by not sharing their anger, their frustration, their fear.
5. LIMBAUGH DOES NOT UNDERSTAND THE ROOT PROBLEM WITH AMERICA’S ILLS, WHICH ARE SPIRITUAL AND MORAL RATHER THAN POLITICAL, AND THIS WORLDLY-MINDED THINKING CAN RUB OFF ON THE LISTENERS.
“For both prophet and priest are profane; yea, in my house have I found their wickedness, saith the Lord. ... for from the prophets of Jerusalem is profaneness gone forth into all the land” (Jer. 23:11,15b).
“Ah sinful nation, a people laden with iniquity, a seed of evildoers, children that are corrupters: they have forsaken the Lord, they have provoked the Holy One of Israel unto anger, they are gone away backward” (Isaiah 1:4).
“In the year that king Uzziah died I saw also the Lord sitting upon a throne, high and lifted up, and his train filled the temple” (Isaiah 6:1).
Jeremiah 23:15 says the profaneness that had permeated Israel proceeded from the prophets. This is certainly true for North America. Our ills stem from the apostasy and carnality in the churches. This has filled the land with wickedness. North America has no fear of God because its preachers are profane. How many churches proclaim all of the Bible’s doctrines without compromise and apology? How many preach plainly on judgment and hell? How many exercise biblical discipline? How many pulpits, rather, are filled with rationalists and adulterers and divorcees and evolutionists and drunkards and pedophiles and positive-thinkers and ecumenicals and psychologists and feminists and politicians and pragmatists and cowardly people-pleasers?
The church’s primary business is to shine the light of God’s holiness in the midst of darkness and to preach the gospel to the ends of the earth and to be ready for Christ’s return. Bible prophecy tells us not to expect to see pleasant things happening in this world as the age draws to a close. We are not going to stop the “mystery of iniquity” (2 Thess. 2:6-8). The political scene is being prepared for the coming of the Antichrist. North America is part of this unsaved world and is moving right along with this program. Like Isaiah, we must turn our eyes away from the kings of this world and see “the Lord sitting upon a throne, HIGH AND LIFTED UP...” (Isaiah 6:1). He sitteth King forever, and we are His and He is ours! “If ye then be risen with Christ, seek those things which are above, where Christ sitteth on the right hand of God. Set your affection on things above, not on things on the earth. For ye are dead, and your life is hid with Christ in God. When Christ, who is our life, shall appear, then shall ye also appear with him in glory” (Colossians 3:1-4).
6. LIMBAUGH MAKES BLASPHEMOUS CLAIMS.
He probably thinks it is all in fun, but I believe it is blasphemous to make the claims that Rush Limbaugh makes. His program announcer calls Limbaugh “your guiding light in times of despair.” The light of the world, though, is Jesus Christ, the eternal Son of God. Limbaugh often called himself the “all seeing, all knowing, all feeling MahaRushy.” That is blasphemy. There is only One Person who is all seeing and all knowing, and that is Almighty God. The only One who is touched with the feelings of our infirmity is the Lord Jesus Christ. It is blasphemous to make claims, even in jest, that can rightfully be made only by God Himself. Jesus Christ warned that men will give account for every word they speak. “But I say unto you, That every idle word that men shall speak, they shall give account thereof in the day of judgment” (Matt. 12:36).
7. LIMBAUGH HAS EXPRESSED DESPITE TOWARD FUNDAMENTALIST, BIBLE-BELIEVING CHRISTIANS.
“He that heareth you heareth me; and he that despiseth you despiseth me; and he that despiseth me despiseth him that sent me” (Lk. 10:16).
I have heard Rush mock those who have called to exhort him about his language and other perversions, who have asked him for the sake of the children who listen to stop such things. He refuses to do this. Though Rush Limbaugh professes to be a Christian, his ultimate authority is not God and the Bible but his own human reasoning, and that is idolatry. On December 21, 2000, Limbaugh stated that he received many e-mails from listeners inquiring whether he is saved or born again and warning that he should not say or do certain things if he is truly saved. He said, “It infuriates me.” In dissociating himself from the “religious right,” he said further that though he is conservative he is not particularly religious.
On August 4, 2005, Limbaugh said that homosexuality is not a moral issue because homosexuality is not a choice. He said that “conservatives” do not care what people do behind closed doors. This is a blatant denial of the Bible’s teaching both on homosexuality and morality in general. God’s laws against adultery and fornication are in effect regardless of whether the sin is public or private, and homosexuality is labeled a moral perversion in Romans 1.
8. LIMBAUGH’S CHRISTIAN FAITH IS HERETICAL
Rush Limbaugh professes Christianity, but like most professing Christians today, his faith is not based upon the Bible. In an interview with The Door magazine in 1993, Limbaugh testified that “Jesus holds the answers to all of the everyday problems that you face,” but he made it plain that he was not referring to a Christ who is Almighty God and who provided the blood atonement to save wicked, undone sinners from eternal hell. Limbaugh described for The Door his liberal Methodist upbringing and explained that his father, who deeply influenced him, studied the Bible but did not believe in hell or the book of Revelation.
“The ‘gospel’ that Rush Limbaugh preaches is heavy on the societal implications of religion and light on a theology of personal redemption. … The message Limbaugh presents is theologically incomplete. He trumpets the role religion has played in the shaping of our nation’s founding documents and history. He notes that belief in God is important. But teaching that America’s founders were religious and that one should believe in God will not get at the core of the human problem. Important as our religious roots and belief in God are, standing alone they are insufficient to remedy man’s malady. The fundamental issue of human sin must be dealt with on an individual basis by repentance for sin and acceptance of salvation through Jesus Christ the Lord” (Daniel Evearitt, Rush Limbaugh and the Bible, 1993, p. 59).
Limbaugh’s “35 Undeniable Truths of Life,” which he frequently quotes and which he has published in his newsletter, are not based upon the Bible but upon his own reason and observation. This is like building a house upon the sand rather than upon the Rock of Jesus Christ and His eternal Word, the Holy Scriptures.
Returning to his microphone on November 17, 2003, after a five week absence for drug addiction treatment, Rush said he felt he had been “reborn at age 50.” It is sad that instead of experiencing the temporal “rebirth” of psychological reformation, he did not experience the eternal rebirth of salvation through acknowledgement of his sinful state and faith in the blood of Jesus Christ.
America’s desperate need is not for radio entertainers and not even for conservative politicians but for preachers who walk in the fear of God and who will proclaim the Word of God without compromise and fear of man and will lead true New Testament churches. The root of America’s ills is the apostasy of her churches, and the answer is to build sound ones. Rush Limbaugh is no help in this urgent task.
In January 2020, Limbaugh was diagnosed with advanced lung cancer. In October of that year, he announced that medical treatment was no longer successful and that his prognosis was terminal.
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