As a general rule, I intend to avoid getting into overtly political discussions on this blog. Not because I do not have views or thoughts on the political scene, believe me. I just think there are more appropriate times and places for those discussions than this forum. That said, I am going to stray a little bit into politics in this post as part of making a larger point.
A few weeks ago I found myself in a (mild) debate on Facebook with some folks I do not know. It stemmed from comments they and I made on a link shared by a mutual friend. This friend is a minor celebrity in the world of Southern Gospel music, so he has lots of “friends” and very few of them do I know. (In case you are wondering, though, I do actually know the individual who posted the link. He went to high school with my brother and his parents attended the same church we did for a while). He had posted a link to an ad on YouTube for Newt Gingrich, with the commentary that Mr. Gingrich’s understanding of our government is impressive and his message is one the American people need to hear.
The ensuing debate stemmed from my comment, in response to a number of other comments posted before mine touting Mr. Gingrich’s vast experience, education and knowledge, pointing out the Mr. Gingrich is indeed brilliant, but that there is no way I could support him for President of the United States. Why? Because in the 1990’s, Speaker Gingrich was an outspoken leader in the move to impeach President Clinton for his behavior with Monica Lewinksy, though at the very same time Mr. Gingrich was involved in an affair with one of his congressional staffers. Mr. Gingrich is now married to said staffer, who is the third Mrs. Gingrich.
Shortly thereafter the debate began. Another “friend” commented that, in her opinion, Mr. Gingrich would do a wonderful job running the country. She then said, “We are now talking about the personal lives of politicians! Most of them have had, [are] having or will have affairs!! It is very wrong of them, but most of the people on FB are divorced, some on their second or third marriages, we cannot hold that against them!! Most politicians personnal lives stink!! I will vote for the man qualified to help us not have another 911, and help us get jobs back and will do everything possible to keep America safe!” She then thanked me for my comment.
As someone who relishes a good debate and someone with very definite opinions on almost every political issue, I could not resist responding. But the truth is, I felt compelled to respond because the position shared by this individual is one so overwhelmingly common in the U.S. today. When it comes to the personal lives of politicians, I must say I think they DO matter, particularly when their personal lives are evidence of hypocrisy in the extreme (such as Gingrich having an affair with a staffer while suggesting Clinton should be impeached for the same thing). I would have to say I cannot accept the assertion that “most” politicians have had, are having or will have an affair, either. (And even if I did agree with that, I would resist the implication that we should accept that as the new norm). To the best of my knowledge, by the way, Jon Huntsman, Herman Cain, Rick Santorum, Mitt Romney, Rick Perry, Michele Bachmann, and Ron Paul are all still married to their first spouse. Should that be the exclusively deciding factor in who to vote for? Probably not. Am I saying I would never vote for someone who has been divorced or even someone who has had an affair? No. But I do think it is relevant.
After I shared these thoughts, the fellow friend replied that she thinks divorce is wrong, and that we could find something about each candidate that we do not like. But then she ended with this thought: “I wonder what is more important, The corruption and indecency of our elected officials or the state of our Nation?”
Well, there is the rub. The truth, I believe, is that the two go hand in hand. If we have corrupt or indecent elected officials should we be surprised that we have a morally bankrupt nation that holds firmly to relativism and denies absolutes? If we have elected officials, or individuals running to become elected officials, who have no problem violating a sacred oath made to a spouse, should we trust them to keep their promises to the nation? Scripture makes it clear that human government has been instituted by God, and believers have a responsibility to submit to those in authority. But believers also have a responsibility to be wise and discerning, to examine all aspects of a candidate’s record, and to vote their conviction in accordance with their understanding of biblical principles and the candidate’s words and deeds. I don’t want to tell you who to vote for; the beauty of a representative democracy is that we each have the right to vote for the candidate that we think will best carry out the duties of the office. But please, in thinking through your decision, do not fool yourself into thinking that there is no connection between corrupt, indecent or immoral elected officials and the state of our nation.