Character Counts

Should it be any surprise, according to a Gallup poll, that when asked which profession is seen as dishonest and unethical, politicians top the list? It seems to be a common understanding amongst Americans that all politicians are corrupt and perhaps that’s just the way things have to get done on Capitol Hill. It wasn’t always this way.

Once upon a time ago, there was something to be said for character among our governmental leaders. We would expect that people who represent us on a national and international level would strive to be honest, prudent, and ethical people with the interest of the people at heart. Of course, now, the expectation is that all politicians are corrupt, unethical liars. And unfortunately, it seems that is more often the case than not.

Now, as a Canadian who cannot vote in the US (yet) I don’t have a horse in this race. Also, being Canadian makes me a little unique as I don’t fit in either extreme of left-ward liberal progressives nor right-wing tea party conservatives. I’m probably more center-right. That being said, it’s important to mention that character should count when it comes to politicians, which brings me to Hilary Clinton.

I’ll start out by saying the mantra, “all politicians are corrupt.” Tis true. The heart is desperately wicked for all of us (Jeremiah 17:9). So this could easily be addressed to any potential Republican presidential candidate. But since the matter in the news is Hilary’s e-mails, I’m going to address that. Bernie Sanders (I-VT) recently wrote regarding the e-mail scandal, “Let’s start having serious discussions about the real issues impacting the people of our country.” I’m with Bernie on this one. There are more important issues out there than whether Hilary did the right thing with her e-mail correspondence while working for Foggy Bottom. That being said, the issue at the core of Hilary’s e-mail problems are about character. And who we are at the core of our being determines how we will handle all those other issues.

As a pastor, I’m constantly reminded that my character makes or breaks my ministry. Paul told us pastors in 1 Timothy 3:2 that we are to be “above reproach.” There shouldn’t be things in our lives that people can point to and then call our ministries into question. It’s because we represent something vital as undershepherds of Christ within the church. In the physical realm, our government plays something of such a vital role that too, our politicians should strive to be above reproach. If they are to represent the best interests of this nation, they cannot do it for their own misguided self-interested pursuits, but must do it for the better good. Let’s bring this back to the Clinton’s.

Certainly, the Clinton’s are not unknown to scandal. We may think of Whitewater or Monica Lewinsky. And none of us are without sin. As I mentioned, all of our hearts are desperately wicked. Yet, for those of specific callings, and the highest in the land being President, we should be considering whether or not our hopefuls are above reproach, or do past scandals and current ones, call into question the ethical positions of those who might one day be in our highest office. If our President is willing to do whatever they want for their own sake, what might that mean for the future of our nation?

E-mails and policies and procedures are certainly low on the priority list of issues facing this nation. Yet, they reveal something about our hearts and about our character. There’s an important warning, to both us and our governmental leaders from former President, James Garfield:

Now more than ever before, the people are responsible for the character of their Congress. If that body be ignorant, reckless and corrupt, it is because the people tolerate ignorance, recklessness and corruption. If it be intelligent, brave and pure, it is because the people demand these high qualities to represent them in the national legislature.

Let us not tolerate ignorance, recklessness, and corruption in our own lives, nor in the lives of our leaders.

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