President Clinton met Feb. 6 with America’s spiritual and religious leaders to commemorate the 46th Annual National Prayer Breakfast. The Associated Press reported:
“Clinton made no mention of the furor over the sex and cover-up allegations that have rocked his presidency.”
And neither, apparently, did the “thousands of political and religious leaders” with whom he met and broke bread.
The legality of our president’s actions in recent days indeed years is a matter properly decided by Congress and the Courts. But the nation’s spiritual health, the morality of its leaders and their actions, is fully within the purview of this nation’s religious leaders.
We could debate the moral guidelines offered by the world’s great religions, but in this case it is unnecessary: President Clinton has declared himself a Christian. Having done so, Mr. Clinton,
like anyone else, falls under the moral guidance and discipline of his local church.
The Bible and Christianity condemn adultery because it offends God. On a more human level it causes separation and mistrust between men and women, destroys the lives of parents and children, and creates a burden on the community that so many religious leaders express such fondness for today.
The secular world has the option of braying, “character doesn’t matter.” They are wrong, and in due time they will pay the price, but they have that right. Christians do not.
The greater burden falls always upon the leader. How is it then, that a man guilty of gross and continuing immorality throughout his career is allowed by Christian leaders to continue on uninterrupted in his sin? Not only the man’s church, but a number of high-profile Christian leaders have made no secret of their
close relationship with this president.
The Bible speaks clearly to such men about what needs to be done:
“But now I have written unto you not to keep company, if any man that is called a brother be a fornicator, or covetous, or an idolater, or a railer, or a drunkard, or an extortioner; with such an one do not to eat. (12) For what have I to do to judge them also that are without [the church]? do not ye judge them that are within? (13) But them that are without God Judgeth. Therefore put away from among yourselves that wicked person.” (1 Cor. 5:11-13)
The New American Heritage Dictionary defines discipline as:
“Training that is expected to produce a specified character or pattern of behavior, especially that which is expected to produce moral or mental improvement…A state of order based upon submission to rules and authority.”
One of the great messages of Christianity is that “God is no respecter of persons.” In our time that has come to mean that the king, as well as his subjects, fall equally under the law of the Supreme Sovereign.
America’s religious leadership — by its silence – is countenancing the immoral and destructive behavior of this president. You are making a mockery of your faith and the ideals you say that you live by. And you are bringing dishonor on the name of the Lord whom you say that you serve.
The Reverend Billy Graham was quoted by the AP as saying that all men and women “are subject to the temptations of pride and power and flesh” and need “repentance and forgiveness.” This was the only portion of his remarks that the secular media saw fit to report, but it is a good one, for it
characterizes both the human condition and what the Christian response to Mr. Clinton’s behavior should be. Repentance means a turning from, or as the dictionary explains:
“To feel such remorse or regret for past conduct as to change one’s mind regarding it.”
President Clinton needs to be confronted with his behavior. That task falls upon those who claim the high ground of spiritual leadership. Evidence of repentance is a changed heart; it is visible to all in changed behavior. This nation has a right to ask: Is there not a man among you?