Tuesday, May 18, 2010

Defend or Decry?

Have you noticed how we tend to defend the indiscretions of those with whom we agree? And we decry the same indiscretions in people whose views are different than ours.

Two recent events, both involving people whose opinions are similar to mine, have given me a ray of hope. In each case, the leader took himself out of the picture because of his own weakness.

The first incident involved John Piper. Piper, a popular Christian author and pastor is currently on an eight-month Sabbatical from virtually all writing and ministry. Announcing his decision, he wrote, "I see several species of pride in my soul that, while they may not rise to the level of disqualifying me for ministry, grieve me, and have taken a toll on my relationship with [my wife] Noël and others who are dear to me." In other words, he wisely chose to pull away from the limelight and the rat race before more serious damage was done.

The second situation was unveiled just today. Indiana Republican Representative Mark Souder announced that he is resigning from Congress, effective Friday. He said that he has "sinned against God, my wife and my family by having a mutual relationship with a part-time member of my staff." Souder further explained his decision by stating, "As I leave public office, my plans are focused upon repairing my marriage, earning back the trust of my family and my community, and renewing my walk with my Lord."

We live in an era in which it is common for people to step over such weaknesses and fight on for the greater good. What's interesting is how we tend to evaluate indiscretions as large or small based on our perception of what the "greater good" actually is. If a certain politician was the swing vote in a cause we are passionate about, would we be tempted to overlook a moral failure? To put it differently, have we turned a blind eye to the past failures of leaders because we liked their public decisions?

Both Piper and Souder seem to be aware of that often forgotten characteristic of God: "Man looks on the outward appearance, but God looks on the heart." (1 Samuel 16:7) Also, God is "no respecter of persons." (Acts 10:34) In other words, God wasn't looking on from heaven and thinking, "This guy is normally on my side. I ought to overlook this failure so he can continue to influence people in the direction I want to go."

The Bible says that it is time for "judgment to begin with the household of God." (1 Peter 4:17) The promise of God's Word is that God will hear from heaven and heal the land of His who people humble themselves and pray, turning from their wicked ways.(2 Chronicles 7:14) For that reason I find the actions of these two men refreshing.

If you pray, please pray for them and their families. From their individual statements, Piper has probably inflicted far less damage on those he loves than is the case with Souder. As one who has far too often sat across the counseling table and watched the tears stream down the face of a spouse whose husband or wife has cheated, I am painfully aware of the grief they must endure before the relationship is truly healed.


C. Beth said...

It is fascinating to me that Piper is stepping down temporarily due to a matter that is of the heart--something that wouldn't have ever come out as a "huge scandal." That says a whole lot to me about who he is.

Ranelle said...

Great post, Pastor Sam. Thanks for the reminder. Much needed!

addhumorandfaith said...

Sam -- Mark Souder is/was our congressman. I can't tell you how sad and mad this has made me. Yes, he is finally doing the right thing, but he didn't do it until it was obvious he was going to be exposed. I have no doubt that he is truly repentant now and will get right with God, but he did tremendous, irreparable damage to the trust and beliefs of those who supported him.

Sam said...

Sandie, first I am sorry that you must walk through this betrayal by someone you admired and trusted.

I wrote this post shortly after the news broke about the resignation. I wasn't really surprised at the details that followed later. Mr. Souder's actions didn't carry the weight of integrity which we saw in John Piper. One part of what I said remains, though. Many in the political world have been caught in immorality and found some way to dodge around it and stay in office for the sake of "the greater good." That, I think, is a shame.