The Window on the World is our weekly opportunity to think about what is happening in the world from a Christian point of view. This week it seems necessary to say something about the events which absorb the attention of our nation.
I refer, of course, to the reports, rumors and innuendoes coming from our nation’s capital. It is alleged that our President, Mr. William Jefferson Clinton, engaged in an adulterous relationship with a White House intern named Monica Lewinsky. It is further alleged that Mr. Clinton and his associates have attempted to pervert the course of justice by covering up the affair. These are allegations which the President has vigorously denied.
We find ourselves not knowing what the truth is, but seeking biblical guidance. What I want to do tonight is to mention several verses from the book of Proverbs which seem to have relevance to the current scandal. I have been slowly working through Proverbs, which is God’s little book of wisdom for daily life. Partly, I want to show what a useful book it is.
Consider this proverb: The first to present his case seems right, till another comes forward and questions him (Prov. 18:17). It is a proverb about withholding judgment. So I begin by saying that no one in this room knows what the facts are. No one of us knows whether or not Mr. Clinton and Ms. Lewinsky, had a sexual relationship. Or whether, on the other hand, Ms. Lewinsky has delusions of grandeur. Having a hunch, or a suspicion, or a guess about what happened is far different from knowing.
So what should a Christian do when the truth is uncertain? The only prudent thing to do is to wait until all the facts are in. This is especially true when someone’s reputation is at stake, or when the accusation involves a public office which God commands us to respect.
One of the fundamental principles of American justice is “Innocent until proven guilty.” This is almost a biblical principle. Proverbs puts it like this: Acquitting the guilty and condemning the innocent—the Lord detests them both (Prov. 17:15). One of the virtues of America’s legal system, when it is functioning properly, is that it does not rush to judgment. Neither should we.
Here is another memorable proverb which seems relevant this whole affair: Like a gold ring in a pig’s snout is a beautiful woman who shows no discretion (Prov. 11:22). Whatever the facts, it is hard to deny that Monica Lewinsky has been indiscreet. Either she has had an affair with a married man, or she has lied about having one, or both. Whatever the case may be, she has been indiscreet.
The Bible always prizes wisdom over beauty. When a gold ring is attached to a pig, it is, hard not to notice the pig, no matter how fancy the ring is. In the same way, no matter how beautiful a woman is, her indiscretions are the only things people will remember. This is a reminder to prize inner beauty over outward beauty, and to prize wisdom most of all.
Or what about Proverbs 16:12? Kings detest wrongdoing, for a throne is established through righteousness-. -The allegations against our President have been disturbing. What has been even more disturbing has been the attitude of the American people towards immorality in public office. A great many citizens—possibly the majority—think that private morality can be separated from public morality. They believe that secret sins, like deceit, or sexual immorality, do not harm others. So the polls indicate that even if Mr. Clinton committed adultery, or perjury, his private behavior has little or no bearing on his ability to be President.
Now there is more to the presidency than integrity, There are certainly plenty of moral individuals who would make lousy presidents. But a person’s private and public lives are inextricably related. A man’s ability to discern the difference between chastity and adultery, or between honesty and perjury, is directly related to his ability to make any moral judgments whatsoever.
Perhaps we have come to the point where Americans no longer demand personal integrity from their leaders. Perhaps this is because our entire political system fosters corruption. If so, our nation is entering a dark and uncertain future. The biblical proverbs insist that righteousness is essential to good governance.
Then, finally, there is this proverb: Who can say, “I have kept my heart pure; I am clean and without sin “? (Prov. 20:9). Answer: no one. This is why the Pharisees all had to leave when Jesus invited the one without sin to cast the first stone. They were all sinners, and so are we.
Christians are quick to condemn. We are as cynical and irreverent about our political leaders as anyone else, if not more so. But how many of us pray intelligently for our leaders? How many of us, for example, have prayed for our President’s marriage, or asked God to protect him from sexual temptation? If there was reason to believe that he was prone to such sin, as so many Christians have been saying, then we should have been praying for him all the more diligently.
I commend to you the book of Proverbs. It is relevant to the latest scandal in Washington. Those who study it will find that it is highly relevant for their own lives as well, not only for times of trouble, but also for staying out of trouble in the first place.
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