Wednesday, November 14, 2012

Codes of Conduct, Commanders, and Commandments in General

A few years ago, I was faced with the problem of our priest getting a divorce and taking up with another woman. At the time, another priest took me aside and told me that I should not hold my priest to high standards as priests are just sinners like the rest of us, and I should forgive and accept the unrepentant priest and continue in the church.

I didn't buy that argument then, and over the intervening years I stood by and watched the disasterous effects of such acceptance replayed in other congregations. I now stand my ground and firmly believe that relaxing a moral standard is the first step on the road to moral confusion. A confusion that will plaque future generations.

God holds us all to very high standards. His standards are Standards, and they have not changed over time.

Our organizations, governments, and military set standards as well. Time and time again our leaders fall short of the standard mark, and their foibles wind up being widely publicized. We watch and listen to each new revelation as they serve to educate, titillate, and offend us.

The latest scandal involving General David Petraeus provides yet another example of our human failings. I find it fascinating that the press is fanning the flames of this while just two weeks ago the very same press was praising former President Clinton for the bang up job he was doing in helping President Obama get re-elected.

Here we have two of our top military commanders, both of whom had captured the hearts of the main stream media, both of whom to which the people of the United States had entrusted their precious secrets, both of whom held incredible power over the fate of nations, one of whom lied, schemed, and successfully enhanced his career, the other one who, only after being caught, bit the bullet and resigned.

So why does one get a promotion while the other gets the ax?

A General can be court martialed (as adultery is listed in the Manual for Court Martial), and the Commander in Chief can be impeached, but the rules for that are more subject to interpretation and politics.

So why would another leader, United States Senator Diane Feinstein, initially wish that President Obama refuse General Petraeus' resignation? She has since changed her mind but only because,
"When you realize additional complications, which I did not at the time when I spoke to him, I think he did the right thing," she said. "I think the president really had no choice but to accept that resignation."

Adultery might get an initial pass, but two women sending threatening e-mails is a serious compromise of national security, and only then should the General face the consequences.

But a Commander in Chief having sex in the Oval Office is not a serious compromise and goes unpunished.

The Bottom Line to today's children: Sometimes adultery is wrong, and sometimes it can be a job enhancement.

Very confusing.

The juxtapositions of General Petraeus' sin with President Clinton's sin and our society's confused response points to a far greater problem. By abandoning our foundational beliefs in the God of the Bible and his commandments, our society has lost not only its moral compass but has thrown away its moral anchor.

This week we have been studying that forgotten, disdained, oft "revisioned" book, "Leviticus," a book that most of us would toss out with the compass as another antiquated means of navigation. The moral codes came up on Monday,

Moreover thou shalt not lie carnally with thy neighbour's wife, to defile thyself with her.

And thou shalt not let any of thy seed pass through the fire to Molech, neither shalt thou profane the name of thy God: I am the Lord.

Thou shalt not lie with mankind, as with womankind: it is abomination.

Neither shalt thou lie with any beast to defile thyself therewith: neither shall any woman stand before a beast to lie down thereto: it is confusion.

Defile not ye yourselves in any of these things: for in all these the nations are defiled which I cast out before you:

And the land is defiled: therefore I do visit the iniquity thereof upon it, and the land itself vomiteth out her inhabitants.

Ye shall therefore keep my statutes and my judgments, and shall not commit any of these abominations; neither any of your own nation, nor any stranger that sojourneth among you:

(For all these abominations have the men of the land done, which were before you, and the land is defiled;)
That the land spue not you out also, when ye defile it, as it spued out the nations that were before you.

For whosoever shall commit any of these abominations, even the souls that commit them shall be cut off from among their people.

Therefore shall ye keep mine ordinance, that ye commit not any one of these abominable customs, which were committed before you, and that ye defile not yourselves therein: I am the Lord your God.
Leviticus 18:20-30 (KJV)
Contrary to popular belief, the moral codes have not been undone by Our Lord Jesus as we read this week in Mark,
And he arose from thence, and cometh into the coasts of Judaea by the farther side of Jordan: and the people resort unto him again; and, as he was wont, he taught them again.

And the Pharisees came to him, and asked him, Is it lawful for a man to put away his wife? tempting him.

And he answered and said unto them, What did Moses command you?

And they said, Moses suffered to write a bill of divorcement, and to put her away.

And Jesus answered and said unto them, For the hardness of your heart he wrote you this precept.

But from the beginning of the creation God made them male and female.

For this cause shall a man leave his father and mother, and cleave to his wife;

And they twain shall be one flesh: so then they are no more twain, but one flesh.

What therefore God hath joined together, let not man put asunder.

And in the house his disciples asked him again of the same matter.

And he saith unto them, Whosoever shall put away his wife, and marry another, committeth adultery against her.

And if a woman shall put away her husband, and be married to another, she committeth adultery.

And they brought young children to him, that he should touch them: and his disciples rebuked those that brought them.

But when Jesus saw it, he was much displeased, and said unto them, Suffer the little children to come unto me, and forbid them not: for of such is the kingdom of God.

Verily I say unto you, Whosoever shall not receive the kingdom of God as a little child, he shall not enter therein.

And he took them up in his arms, put his hands upon them, and blessed them.

And when he was gone forth into the way, there came one running, and kneeled to him, and asked him, Good Master, what shall I do that I may inherit eternal life?

And Jesus said unto him, Why callest thou me good? there is none good but one, that is, God.

Thou knowest the commandments, Do not commit adultery, Do not kill, Do not steal, Do not bear false witness, Defraud not, Honour thy father and mother.
Mark 10:1-19 (KJV)

Our leaders are just like us in this respect: we knowest the commandments, but we followeth them not.

So why do we embrace the failure of the one and apply standards to the failure of the other?

Those Standards sure do cause problems.

So who needs em anyway?

With no commandments, no Standards, who needs a Saviour either?

Thank God we do have an advocate in Jesus because sooner or later we will mess up by His Standards in one way or another.


  1. I think this is a different matter then his position in Government.

  2. You can add me to the generation of confused.
    My husband and I often remark about how it seems like there aren't any heroes anymore. Who do our kids have to look up to?

    I have mixed emotions about this. On one hand, not being able to hold our parents, priests, or government officials to higher standards than the rest of us is frightening. On the other hand, it feels like a valid reminder of our imperfect humanness.

  3. Aly,

    I am not sure we are attempting to hold others to a higher standard than the rest of us. I think it boils down to not giving them a pass just because of our human weaknesses. It points out the need to continually pray for forgiveness for our own sins and giving thanks for a Saviour in Jesus.