May 2008 – Everyone who follows the news is aware that Eliot Spitzer, the now former governor of the state of New York, resigned recently after it was discovered he had paid for the services of a prostitute. I think the fact that prostitution is illegal is what got him, since he is the chief law enforcement officer in the state. That was his hypocrisy.
If, for instance, he had just been carrying on an adulterous affair with an intern or two or a friend of the family, I don’t think it would have been that big of a deal in the Empire State. It would have been viewed as a personal matter and business would have gone on as usual. And that in itself is a shame.
Goodness knows, there have been plenty of examples of hypocrisy among high profile individuals in the Christian community over the last few years and among conservative political figures. Most of the examples involve leaders who espouse traditional moral values as good for all to follow, yet they are not found to be living by those standards themselves.
Fidelity in marriage seems to be the most commonly violated moral standard. Dishonesty in the area of handling money comes in second.
As I have written here before, just because Christians fail to live up to the standards they “preach,” doesn’t negate the validity of those standards themselves. It just means the messenger of these values has discredited himself before God and man.
Not a few days after Spitzer’s announcement, the new governor, David Paterson, made public just after – not before – he was sworn in to office that he and his wife had had multiple extramarital affairs. Then the New York Daily News reported that Paterson “may have broken state campaign finance laws when he used campaign cash to pay for a hotel room for a woman with whom he was having an affair.”
One of the ironies I find most interesting is when liberal pundits or political figures take time to point out the hypocrisy in this area among conservatives, while they themselves don’t even hold the view that adultery or sexual infidelity is anything to be taken seriously in the first place.
Just look at Bill Clinton. Here we had a sitting president carrying on a sexual affair with a White House intern in the Oval Office and on the Oval Office phone, lying about it under oath and to the country, and what do the Democrats do? They have a high-fiving pep rally for him on the White House lawn, cheering him on. If he had been a Republican president having done the very same things, he would have been forced to resign by the party itself.
I am tired of hearing that a politician’s personal morals have little or nothing to do with how they do their job. I believe it does. While I do believe in forgiveness, redemption and restoration, is it unreasonable to ask the question: If a man will cheat on his wife and family – even while in office – what else is he capable of doing? That goes for Republicans and for Democrats.
The broader consideration here is a person’s character who wants to be elected to public office. Many people today don’t believe that character matters any longer. It should matter. From the local school board to the White House, character should still matter because it speaks to whether or not a person can be trusted. Trusted to keep his word. Trusted not to be bribed. Trusted to conduct business open and honestly.
Are there are only a few of us who make this connection?
I understand we live in a fallen world where sin still abounds. And perhaps the stories of politicians and illicit sexuala exploits are just a reflection of the times we live in and popular culture in general. But we – especially the Christian community – never need to fall into the world's trap of saying it doesn't matter.