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As I have thought about the president’s admission that he lied to
the court and the nation about his affair with a White House
intern, I was struck with the number of ties that bind us to one
another during our lifetimes, and the fragile fabric of those ties.
My dictionary defines covenant as simply, “a formal, binding
agreement.” Some of these agreements are easy to spot; others are
less obvious. Most of us would recognize the covenant between hus-
band and wife; parent and child. Employer and employee. It is
obvious to us if we are a party to one of these covenants.
But what about covenants that are not so obvious? Many of the
things we do each day are, in fact, covenants with other people. If
we drive a car, we have a covenant with other motorists: we agree
to be bound by traffic signals and the rules of the road. We do
this not because we fear the policeman, but because we want other
motorists to behave in a similar fashion. To the extent that all
motorists honor the covenant, we can travel safely by car.
Airlines have similar covenants with one another and with air
traffic controllers. Railroad engineers with other engineers.
Merchants with customers. Government with its citizens. And
ultimately, God with His creation.
In an ideal world, covenants are self-enforcing. I follow the rules
of the road when I drive because I want a safe trip. You do
likewise. Merchants give honest weight and service because they
want customers to return. Government confines itself to its agreed-
upon areas of influence, or negotiates new agreements through
elections and constitutional amendments.
But there are covenants more subtle than these. There is the cove-
nant between young and old, weak and strong, sick and healthy,
those who are free and those who are in bondage. But these are
strange covenants indeed: for although we enter into them with one
person, we fulfill them with another.
Our lives, our communities, and our nation are also parties to
these covenants. Because that is so — the way I drive my car
affects you — religion and morality are not — indeed can never be
— private matters. Those who have denied this fundamental truth
about candidate Bill Clinton’s character must now live with the
results of President Bill Clinton’s actions.
Unfortunately, so must the rest of us. This week’s cover on The
Economist depicts the Presidential Seal of the United States,
modified to bear the words, “mea culpa” at its top. Explaining the
graphic, that publication writes: “Now that he is a proven liar. …”
Harsh words; but they are right to be critical. Day to day, how can
foreign leaders know when they deal with Bill Clinton if he is
telling them the truth or lying to their faces? Did we bomb
terrorists — or was it a diversion? A chemical weapons facility —
or a pharmaceutical plant?
Liars lie because it gives them an advantage: it defrauds those
with whom they deal of the truth. The bankruptcy of the Clinton
agenda, and those who support it, is revealed by their pleas for
forgiveness and promises of “moving ahead.” Trouble is, no one
wants to move on with a liar at the helm.
Why did the Democrats, Clinton and Gore in particular, raise so
much illegal foreign money? Mr. Clinton has answered that question
himself: The Republicans were raising more money, and it wasn’t
“fair.” He had to lie, cheat, and sell his country’s technological
secrets to make things “fair” for the Democrats. Perhaps the real
truth is, not enough Americans supported his extreme collectivist
agenda to donate to his campaign — until he turned to hard-core
Communists in China.
Covenants are important: not only to us, but to God, for He speaks
frequently about them, often in pain and anger about their being
broken, as in this passage from Isaiah. Perhaps it applies to us,
Because ye have said, We have made a covenant with death,
and with hell are we at agreement; when the overflowing
scourge shall pass through, it shall not come unto us:
for we have made lies our refuge, and under falsehood
have we hid ourselves.
Therefore thus saith the Lord God, Behold I lay in Zion
for a foundation a stone, a tried stone, a precious
corner stone, a sure foundation: he that believeth shall
not make haste [alternately: shall not suddenly have to
flee from an attack].
Judgment also will I lay to the line, and righteousness
to the plummet: and the hail shall sweep away the refuge
of lies, and the waters shall overflow the hiding place.
And your covenant with death shall be disannulled, and
your agreement with hell shall not stand; when the
overflowing scourge shall pass through, then ye shall be
trodden down by it (Isaiah 28:15-18).