Not Just A Sex Scandal

Regular BreakPoint listeners will know I have refrained from comment on the Monica Lewinsky affair; but recent news accounts are grossly distorting what this unfolding and tragic scandal is about. I must comment. Recently, I watched all the television "talking heads" tell us that this is nothing but a sex scandal. One "man on the street" interview was typical. He said, "This is all about adultery. Nobody gets impeached for adultery." Adultery is not an impeachable offense, but if Lewinsky's charges prove true, this is a very serious and grave charge. The behavior, if true—I emphasize, if true—must not be condoned or shrugged off, as many seem to be doing today. For the painful truth is that the moral authority of the most important office in the world has been grievously wounded. When I was in England recently, I attended a black-tie dinner. As is the custom of the British, the host stood at the dinner's end, raised his glass and said, "To the Queen." The rest of the diners echoed, "To the Queen." The senior American present then stood and said, "To the President of the United States." The crowd's response? Loud snickers and laughter. The fact is, the President has been morally wounded, and the White House stands in a shadow of shame. This affects his dealings with China, with the Middle East, and with a myriad of problems rising out of the Asian economic crisis. In another age, a president might, as a matter of honor, have stepped down and spared his office and country from the tawdry tabloid sensationalism. But this is the Libertine Nineties and so folks seem to be saying, "anything goes." But the point is this whole episode is not merely a sex scandal. Judge Starr will soon send a report to Congress. He will certainly not do so simply to detail an extramarital affair. If he sends a report, it will almost certainly be about lying under oath and possibly obstructing justice. If we were talking about any other American than the president, and such charges were made, he would be indicted. So what will Congress do? If Congress lets this pass by, it will say two things. First, lying and breaking the law in America goes unpunished. If that happens, I want someone to tell me what I'm now suppose to tell my grandchildren about the need to tell the truth and to do right, lest they be punished. But second, and far worse, we will be saying that the president is above the law—a principle that was anathema to our Founders and anathema for 225 years of American history. C. S. Lewis trenchantly told us what would happen if anyone were above the law. "The very idea of freedom" he wrote, "presupposes some objective moral order which overarches rulers and ruled alike. We and our rulers are of one kind only so long as we are subject to one law." Congress, stiffen your back and take note of Lewis' words. If you see your congressman at home this month, tell him or her what you think. The very idea of a free society and the rule of law hang in the balance.


Chuck Colson



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