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Does it matter what a political leader does in private as long as he does his "public" job effectively?

In recent years, we have seen a spate of allegations and revelations
about the behavior of certain leading political figures and other high
profile leaders, both in the UK and the USA, as well as in Western
Europe. While this is not a new phenomenon, public attitudes seem to
have changed to a more liberal and tolerant, if not accepting approach.
This is because of moral and ethical barriers being lowered as society
adopts a much more permissive attitude.

We may recall that in the
US presidential election in the late 1990’s, the public re-elected
their President in spite of his behavior. As long as the President gave
the American people a good standard of living it didn’t matter, as one
commentator put it, “what happened after dark.”

America’s first
President, George Washington, wrote a letter in 1790 to his nephew. He
said that “ a good moral character was essential in a man.”
But today’s prevailing attitude in the Western world is that “we have
moved on”–which means that “anything goes.”

The Dutch theologian
and historian philosopher Hugo Grotius (1583-1645) said that “A man
cannot govern a nation if he cannot govern a city; he cannot govern a
city if he cannot govern a family; he cannot govern a family unless he
can govern himself; and he cannot govern himself unless his passions
are subject to reason.”

Those in the public eye and in political
leadership positions should have certain standards. We ought to
be able to expect that politicians bring certain qualities to the jobs
that they undertake, including honesty, integrity, uprightness and a
moral code. In other words, we ought to be able to expect “character.”

Character
is the ability to discern right from wrong and to always choose the
right, irrespective of circumstances or popular demand.

Character
is a vital ingredient and involves the whole person. In his book “The
Death of Outrage,” William J. Bennett makes the following comments:
“Are character and integrity abstract side issues, outweighed by
current economic well-being?… The leader must be whole; he cannot
have his public character be honest and his private character be
deceitful.”

There are those in this world who know the importance
of integrity. Years ago, a company in the pharmaceutical business in
the US, named Squibb, released the following story on a poster board to
be displayed in drugstores:

“In the city of Baghdad lived Hakem.
Many went to him for counsel which he gave freely, asking nothing in
return. Then came a young man who had spent much time and got little.
‘Tell me, wise one,’ he said, ‘What can I do to receive the most for
that which I spend?’ Hakem answered, ‘A thing that is bought or sold
has no value unless it contains that which cannot be bought or sold.
Look for the priceless ingredient.’ ‘But what is the priceless
ingredient?’ asked the young man. Spoke thus the wise one, ‘My son, the
priceless ingredient of every product in the market place is the honor
and integrity of him who makes it. Consider his name before you buy.”

In
July 1993, the American Air Force Academy formed a center for character
development. Colonel Alexander stated the following in “proposed
character development outcomes,” issued January 21st 1993:

“Officers
with forthright integrity voluntarily decide the right thing to do and
do it in both their professional and private lives. They do not choose
the right thing because of a calculation of what is most advantageous
to themselves but because of a consistent and spontaneous inclination
to do the right thing. Their inclination to do right is consistently
followed by actually doing what they believe they should do and taking
responsibility for their choices. In other words, persons of integrity
‘walk their talk.'”

What is the Biblical teaching on character
and integrity of political leaders? In the book of Proverbs, this
wisdom is revealed: “The integrity of the upright will guide them, but
the perversity of the unfaithful will destroy them” (Proverbs 11:3). We
are also taught: “When the righteous are in authority, the people
rejoice” (Proverbs 29:2).

In God’s eyes, the moral conduct of
political leaders DOES matter. Proverbs 31:4-5 teaches: “… It is not
for kings to drink [too much] wine, Nor for princes intoxicating drink;
Lest they drink and forget the law, And pervert justice of all the
afflicted.”

Let us also note the effect which a morally corrupt
leader may have on others. We read in Proverbs 29:12: “If a ruler pays
attention to lies, All his servants become wicked.” The opposite is
true, as well: “Take away the wicked from before the king, And his
throne will be established in righteousness” (Proverbs 25:5).

The
last words of David in 2 Samuel 23:3 are revealing: “The God of
Israel said, The Rock of Israel spoke to me: ‘He who rules over men
must be just, Ruling in the fear of God.'”

Unfortunately,
Biblical injunction is mainly ignored today in an ever increasingly
secular society, but “righteousness exalts a nation” (Proverbs 14:34).
We read in Proverbs 16:12: “It is an abomination for kings to commit
wickedness, For a throne is established by righteousness.” All of God’s
commandments are “righteousness” (Psalm 119:172)–including the “Great
Ten,” as well as other rules and regulations, such as the ones against
homosexuality, adultery, false religious worship and sorcery with its
various forms and customs. In God’s eyes, a king–especially in this
Western world–ought to familiarize himself with His Law–rather than
adopting and living by the standards and morals of humans. We read in
Deuteronomy 17:18-20:

“Also it shall be, when he sits on the
throne of his kingdom, that he shall write for himself a copy of this
law in a book… and he shall read it all the days of his life, that he
may learn to fear the LORD his God and be careful to observe all the
words of this law and these statutes, that his heart may not be lifted
above his brethren, that he may not turn aside from the commandment to
the right hand or to the left, and that he may prolong his days in his
kingdom, he and his children in the midst of Israel.”

Integrity
comes from studying and applying God’s Word, and it is still of
paramount importance. To put it simply, integrity is the difference
between what you say and what you do. It has also been described as
what you do when no one is looking.

In Matthew 23:1-7, Jesus
spoke about the hypocrisy, self righteousness and great vanity of the
Pharisees who lacked integrity–even though they knew the letter of
God’s law. They taught the law, but they themselves did not obey it
(verse 3). They were leaders at that time but their example was poor.

John
the Baptist was not afraid to challenge the bad moral conduct of King
Herod. The King, as a leader of the people, was supposed to live beyond
moral approach, but he sinned greatly. We read in Mark 6:17-18: “For
Herod himself had sent and laid hold of John, and bound him in prison
for the sake of Herodias, his brother Philip’s wife; for he had married
her. Because John had said to Herod, ‘It is not lawful for you to have
your brother’s wife.'”

The behavior of politicians really does
matter. Sadly, in this world which is ruled by Satan, most politicians
do not follow God’s Way of Life. Many citizens copy the bad behavior of
their leaders. It is partially for the reasons set forth in this
Update, that the Church of the Eternal God and its corporate affiliates
do not vote in governmental elections, nor do we endorse any political
candidates. (For more information as to the Biblical reasons for our
position, please read our fee booklet, “Should You Fight in War?“) For
true Christians, our role models–or examples–should not be those
conformed to this world. Our example is Jesus Christ who was
perfect.

Lead Writer: Brian Gale