The Presidential Scandals

Over recent weeks, countless Christians have asked me what their attitude should be towards the President in the midst of the growing scandals. Most ask, as Larry King did last week, whether we should simply forgive. So let me devote this broadcast to the answers I've been giving to the most common questions. First, many Christians have been staunchly opposed to many of President Clinton's policies. For example, just next week the Senate will attempt to override the President's veto of the Partial-Birth Abortion Ban Act—a veto that seriously offends the Christian conscience. But we should never allow these policy differences to influence how we see the President in this situation. It would be un-Christian to appear to be taking any delight over the President's troubles, and certainly a bad witness to be seen that way. And that raises a second point. Let us not forget as Christians that we are commanded to pray for those in authority. In this case, I believe that means praying for the President particularly that he will genuinely repent for his sins to which he has already admitted. Repentance, remember, means more than simply saying, "I'm sorry." The word in Greek is metanoia, which translated literally means a change of mind. It means not only being sorry for what you have done, but changing your ways—in this case promising to live up to the moral trust the people put in their president. And we should also pray that the President be able to fulfill his biblically ordained capacity of leadership of this nation. That's why we pray for our leaders so that they can do justice, and so they can preserve order, which is one of the biblical roles of government. We pray that prayer for the sake of our country, ourselves, and the world. And of course, we should be forgiving if the president repents. All of us fall short of the glory of God, all of us need to repent; none of us can be self-righteous. But repentance and forgiveness do not eliminate the demand for justice. At the cross, justice and mercy meet—no man is above the law. And if the law has been broken, the individual can be forgiven, but he is still responsible for the consequences of his actions. Otherwise there is no such thing as justice. One of the unique contributions of Christian thought to the founding of our government was the rule of law, that and, no man can be above it. So it is not un-Christian to insist that justice be done—that the president be held accountable for his actions. And fourth, while this scandal is a horrific episode in our history, there is a silver lining. In recent years, it's been almost impossible to engage in a serious discussion of morality in public life. But for the first time in my memory, people are openly, heatedly, discussing what's right and wrong when it comes to private conduct, and whether private conduct has public consequences. This is a great opportunity for Christians to educate our secular neighbors about the need for absolute standards of right and wrong—to show private behavior does have public consequences. And to make the case that character does count. Finally, as we discuss this scandal, let us always remember that the way in which we do things can be as important as what we do. In all things, whether insisting on justice or calling for repentance, we should do it not in anger but in love, charity, kindness.


Chuck Colson



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