A little more than a week ago, David French wrote about reasons why certain very salacious stories about the president’s personal conduct are getting zero traction among conservative Christians. I think he missed two important reasons. For one Bill Clinton set the bar for such stuff a long time ago now – it just doesn’t matter anymore. Secondly, in an age when we are confronted with sex-related issues far, far less ordinary than simple heterosexual activity the story just seems par for the course. Again, no big deal.
David concludes the piece with this:
Make no mistake, there is a high cost for moral compromise. At a moment when the fruits of the sexual revolution are proving to be bitter indeed, this is exactly the time for the Christian moral witness. Too bad it’s been so profoundly diluted.
I have to disagree with that statement to some extent. A lack of Christian moral witness regarding the presidency does not necessarily indicate a general dilution of Christian moral witness. It might just indicate better aim for that witness.
I have long contended that the election of a president is more mirror than leader. It reflects the nation generally. If we are honest, and this is the point I was making in my additional reasons cited in the opening paragraph, the nation generally simply does not have any serious standard – other than a lack of force – when it comes to heterosexual activity. If that is the case, as I believe it is, then one must seriously consider the wisdom of screaming “foul” regarding presidential conduct that the nation generally simply does not consider a foul. As abhorrent as I find the alleged conduct to be, is it effective witness to batter the president about it?
I would argue it is completely ineffective until such time as the prevailing moral sense of the nation would agree. Remember the Great Commission:
But the eleven disciples proceeded to Galilee, to the mountain which Jesus had designated. When they saw Him, they worshiped Him; but some were doubtful. And Jesus came up and spoke to them, saying, “All authority has been given to Me in heaven and on earth. Go therefore 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; and lo, I am with you always, even to the end of the age.”
There is an order to things – before we can teach them observation and obedience, we need to convert them and baptize them. If that is not happening then screaming “foul” at the president just makes us look out-of-touch and weird. Conversion and baptism does not happen in the political press – it happens individually, through relationship and love and through community. Let’s be frank, who wants to commune with a group that just looks weird?
Consider flooding. It is an awful thing and the damage is immense, but does it do any good to try and repair the damage before the dam is fixed, the leak plugged or the rain stops? Nope, it is better to focus your efforts on the source and repair the damage latter. That’s where we are as nation right now, morally and spiritually. The presidential sexual misconduct story is damage, but it is not the source of the issue. No sense cleaning it up until we stop the source.
This Sunday morning I do not pray for a sense of moral outrage, I pray for a heart that aches for a deeply broken world. Further I pray for the compassion to bring Jesus into that world – through conversion and through baptism.
An afterthought question: Do we see Jesus or the apostles spending any time worried about the moral conduct of Caesar or other governmental officials? I can’t recall any. I can recall a great deal of concern about the moral conduct in the community of believers, but not about the government. To my prayers today I add one for the strength to examine ourselves.