Sacrificial Love

The Senate has just plunged itself into the first presidential impeachment trial in more than a hundred years. It's clearly mandated by the evidence presented and the requirements of the Constitution. Nonetheless, I suspect everyone feels distress that a trial is necessary, for there are nothing but dangers to the country in all of this, including one most people haven't discussed. For starters, the trial can only intensify the country's deep divisions. Two-thirds of Americans think that it's no big deal for the president to have sex with an intern and then lie about it under oath. After all, they shrug, everybody lies about sex. That's the sixties' generation incarnate. The other third of the country still believes in traditional standards of right and wrong and is outraged that injustice may go unpunished, or even be celebrated. If the president is acquitted, the outrage will intensify.
Second, the trial will paralyze the political process. Even if he remains in office, Clinton will be a weakened president, commanding little respect. The Republican leadership is already weakened, having gone through three Speakers of the House in a matter of weeks. So we will fail to fix Social Security, and foreign powers may test us dangerously. But a third consequence could well be the most serious: God's judgment brought against our nation because of an unrighteous leader. Remember, the Scriptures tell us that during a time when King David defied God, the consequences of his sin fell not just upon David, but upon the whole nation of Israel. Even though David confessed his sin to God, his sin required punishment. The Lord offered David a choice: three years of famine, three months of devastation by Israel's foes, or three days of pestilence upon the land. David chose pestilence, and 70,000 men of Israel were wiped out. Horrified at this devastation, David cried out to God, "It is I who have sinned and done very wickedly. But these sheep, what have they done? Let thy hand… be against me and against my father's house; but let not the plague be upon thy people." (I Chronicles 21:11-17) The difference between King David and President Clinton could not be more clear: David was willing to sacrifice himself for the sake of the people, while, so far, President Clinton has shown no willingness to do the same thing. This is why I believe that the only right solution to this horrid affair is for the president to spare the nation the trial and resign. Sure, the spinmeisters tell us this is a partisan vendetta: Not so. It started because the president lied to cover his misdeeds. And now he's the only one who can set things straight. An insightful book has just been published entitled Judgment Day at the White House; it's a collection of essays by mainline scholars and theologians, including several Clinton supporters. The book includes a statement they've signed called "Declaration Concerning Religion, Ethics, and the Crisis in the Clinton Presidency." The authors insist that the president accept responsibility for his behavior. It shows why we ought to ignore the unbiblical injunction, "forgive and forget"—and demand true, biblical justice. And in this case, sad though it is to say it, the surest way for that to come about is for the president to step down.


Chuck Colson



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