Every four years we come to the same conclusion, and define stupidity again—if someone does the same thing and expects different results, one is indeed stupid. As the nation considers who should be the president, we say that character matters but then vote people in who have no character. Every four years we talk about changing the Electoral College but then we do nothing about it, even when a single party has the presidency and control of the House and the Senate. Every four years we agree that our candidates run on obfuscation, denial, and negative campaigning. Each party does such a good job of digging up dirt on their fellow Democrats or Republicans during the primaries that the opposing parties do not need to find any material.
When we talk about character, we can discuss being ethical in business, keeping your promises as you run for political office, and remaining faithful to your spouse. For this particular article, I want to look at character within marriage. Congressman James E. Clyburn of South Carolina wrote that he would pray for African American men who voted for President Trump. His argument was that he would never dishonor his mother, sisters, or any of the women in his life by speaking about them the way Trump has spoken about women. Trump is the epitome of adulterous disrespect. I completely agree with him and in speaking with the women in my family and other women that I admire, I found out that they have come to the same conclusion.
Then I listen to my friends who supported Trump, and they usually agree with Clyburn! But they point out that some of the people who Clyburn supported were not evaluated with the same criteria. In fact, the idea that what you do privately is of no consequence to your public life was frequently used during the term of former president Bill Clinton, who was a Democrat. The Clinton campaign often claimed, “It’s the economy, stupid,” as if nothing else mattered. Until COVID-19 hit us, Trump had the same platform –the economy matters most of all. If the economy is doing well, everything else is unimportant.
If one analyzes the character and achievements of US presidents, one can see character flaws on both sides. Many of our presidents were adulterous before they were elected, and they continued their adultery in the White House. If we examine the presidents after World War II, we have Kennedy, Johnson, and Clinton on the Democratic side and Trump on the Republican side. With biographical analysis, we find that the most vulgar and most adulterous was President Lyndon Johnson. His entourage was even required to find him sexual partners during his travels. Yet, Congressman Clyburn overlooks the adulterous life of Johnson and chooses instead to focus on Johnson’s great accomplishments for the American people and, to a great degree, for African American people.
We have found the enemy and it is us. We think that promiscuity is to be expected in our 21st century American culture, or we should at least be the exception and avoid judgement for it. One of the reasons it is difficult to discuss this topic is that Kennedy, Johnson, Clinton, and Trump are representatives of our society – they represent us both literally through our election and generally as spokesmen for America. Our books and movies portray consensual adultery as something to be desired. Magazines and journals tell us that every good marriage needs one good affair. We have relaxed our moral system and we think that it is prudish when we hear the words of Paul that adultery is sinning against one’s own body and, if one is a Christian, one takes a body that has been sanctified by Christ and unites it with an adulterer/adulteress.
In one of my classes, an African American student came to talk to me after I lectured for three hours on St. Augustine. He asked me how I could admire St. Augustine so much when he was an adulterer before his conversion, and his writings on the family provide some really bad advice. My answer was that I admire St. Augustine as much as I admire Martin Luther King, Jr. I have read most of the books written by St. Augustine and most of the books written by Martin Luther King, Jr. Both men have impacted the world in so many powerful ways. At the same time, I am aware that St. Augustine’s father introduced him to the whorehouses of Roman society and that affected how Augustine viewed women and family, even after his salvation. I am aware that Martin Luther King Jr’s supporters knew that he was unfaithful to his wife Coretta—he even spent the night before his assassination with one of his many paramours. Despite this shortcoming, Martin Luther King, Jr. is one of the giants of the 20th century.
If we continue to talk about character without actually building it in ourselves and seeking it in our representatives, we are going to meander and suffer the consequences. We need to start taking God’s plan for society seriously – one woman and one man, both living in sexual purity before marriage, and then guarding the sanctity of their marriage once they become a couple. Tim Tebow recently got married to a model who had been crowned Miss Universe. In almost every article about their marriage, there was a joke or negative comment about how Tebow and Demi-Leigh Nel-Peters made a commitment not to have sex before marriage. It seemed like they do not belong to our century because it would be normal for them to have had sex with other partners and then, once they had found one another, it would have been normal for them to have sex together before their wedding. Modern society and even our churches say that it is ok, but God has not changed His mind just because we did. God is the same yesterday, today, and forever and so are his commandments because he cannot change, and he cannot deny himself.
We are told that winning politically requires armies, money, and women. Military power frightens and corrupts, money buys things and opens many doors, and sexual attraction tantalizes and tempts. But your sins will catch up to you at the most inopportune moment and they can destroy you, your family, your career, and everything you cherish in this life.