Martin Luther King Jr.
Does King deserve a spiritual award for his work in civil rights?
The world of course would say yes; as for me: I honestly believe that King's political activism was gross dereliction of duty; and here's why.
The letters that Paul wrote to his friends Timothy and Titus, are sometimes referred to as the pastoral epistles because they contain instructions for pastors rather than instructions for John Q and Jane Doe pew warmers. The following is one of those instructions.
● 2Tim 2:4 . . As Christ's soldier, do not let yourself become tied up in the affairs of this life, for then you cannot satisfy the one who has enlisted you in his army.
King chose to ignore Paul's instructions. I don't expect he'll go to hell for it; but his insubordination will effect his appraisal as per 1Cor 3:10-15, and thus result in a smaller performance award than what he would have deserved had he followed Paul's instructions to the letter instead getting distracted with political activism.
King cheated on his wife too. Adultery is bad enough when committed by a rank and file pew warmer; but much more serious when a minister does it.
According to Paul's instructions for ministers ordained to serve Jesus Christ, athletes are disqualified when they fail to comply with the rules of the game (2Tim 2:5). One of the rules of the game for ministers ordained to serve Jesus Christ is to avoid getting involved in the affairs of this world. That rule is not negotiable.
● 1Tim 6:13-14 . . In the sight of God-- who gives life to everything, and of Christ Jesus, who while testifying before Pontius Pilate made the good confession --I charge you to keep this command without spot or blame until the appearing of our Lord Jesus Christ,
All the instructions contained within the two letters that Paul wrote to his pal Timothy were reckoned as "this command". In other words: the two letters combined comprise a single directive; and 2Tim 2:4 is only a teensy portion of that directive: there's lots more where that came from. Paul's directive is to be obeyed-- to the letter. It was never intended as some sort of general purpose guideline.
FYI: Paul's instructions express Jesus Christ's edicts.
● 1Cor 14:37 . . If any man think himself to be a prophet, or spiritual, let him acknowledge that the things that I write unto you are the commandments of The Lord.
● 1Ths 4:1-2 . .We beseech you, brethren, and exhort you by the Lord Jesus, that as ye have received of us how ye ought to walk and to please God, so ye would abound more and more. For ye know what commandments we gave you by the Lord Jesus.
Q: How can it possibly be wrong for a Christian to crusade against the way people are treated?
A: You can't think of King as "a Christian". He was on a much higher tier than that. King was a minister ordained to serve Jesus Christ. The standards for Christ's ministers are higher than those for John Q and Jane Doe pew warmer. It's no big deal if a nondescript Christian goes on a march to Selma; but it's a big no-no for men on King's tier to go on marches. It's a big no-no for men on King's tier to even so much as endorse marches.
An especially really big no-no for men on King's tier is to usurp their church's pulpit for personal interests. That's sort of akin to hooking up your home's fresh water pipes to the sewer system. Your fresh water pipes are intended for fresh water, not soiled water. I'm not saying personal interests are dirty; all I'm saying is everything has its proper place. For example:
Back in the decade of the 1990's Billy Graham came to Portland Oregon. At the time there was a big to-do about LGBT. Well; the anti-gay coalition approached Billy and asked him to endorse their cause. To his credit; Billy refused. Not that Billy was pro-gay; he just felt that Christ did not call him to use his pulpit for political activism; but rather to "go and make disciples of all the nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and the Son and the Holy Spirit; teaching them to observe all that I commanded you".
Had King followed Billy's example, and kept his nose to the grindstone instead of sticking it in affairs that were none of his business; he might have lived to his father's age of 84 instead of being gunned down at 39. KIng wasn't martyred for his devotion to Jesus Christ; no, he was assassinated for his devotion to politics.
I've heard it said that nobody is a complete failure when they can serve as a bad example. Well; that's certainly true of King. Were I a seminary professor; I'd very definitely use King not as role model; but as an excellent example of the kind of minister that every man ordained to serve Jesus Christ should not be.