Keeping Your Oath

I was listening to the news the other day and heard a very interesting question. Should a person’s faithfulness in marriage be counted toward or against their ability to serve the public? We’ve seen how infidelity in the oval office has been explained away as a “private matter.” But is it really private? I remember a Saturday about years ago when I stood before a body of witnesses, and publicly confessed my faithfulness to a woman that I am still married to. That day really frightened me because I had to confess to private feelings and make public, lasting commitments in front about 200 of my closest family and friends, and before God. It sure didn’t feel like a “private matter” at the time.

Marriages are not private affairs. They are licensed by the state, and performed by a state representative, whether it be the justice of the peace, or a minister permitted to do so by law. If a man makes a public commitment to a woman before the state and a body of witnesses, doesn’t that have some effect when that man then swears an oath to office? If a man will not be faithful to a woman in marriage which he has sworn “till death do us part” before the state, how can he be trusted when he swears an oath to a public office.

In a marriage, it is much harder to be faithful than as a public servant. A marriage is built upon the thousand tiny decisions to be faithful; not to look after other women, not to imagine being with them, and so on. Marriages require far more diligence, more work to communicate, tolerate, and even love one another. Marriage doesn’t happen by chance, but by the thousand careful decisions to make it work that take place everyday. Stopping by to pick up a flower, just to say, “I love you.” Picking up the dirty laundry and doing it without being asked. Offering to take the kids out for a while so your wife can get some time alone. Marriage is built on selflessness, the thousand little decisions like these to make it work and be successful. It is much easier to be unfaithful in marriage than in public office. It is much easier to make a mess of a marriage than it is the governor’s office, because no one is watching, and few people care if a marriage breaks up. It happens all the time.

Public Service on the other hand is constantly monitored by the media and those after your job. It calls for greater scrutiny and accountability. You pay much closer attention to it because you have to make it work, or you lose your job. If marriages had that much scrutiny, there would probably be less divorces. If Marriage called for that much accountability, like some celebrity marriages have, then they would last longer.

Most importantly, the commitment you make in your marriage is made not just before the state, but before God. The commitment to public office may require a Bible to make the oath, but it is not made before God, but before Men. If a man can’t be trusted to honor his commitment he made to one human being, his wife, how on earth can he be expected to honor his commitment to a thousand, or three-hundred million? Can I trust a man to honor his commitment to me if he’s been unfaithful to his wife? In the end, we are measured not by our great decisions, but by our small ones.

You know what the secret to success is, in anything? It is embodied in Matthew 25:21, “His master said to him, ‘Well done, good and faithful slave; you were faithful with a few things, I will put you in charge of many things, enter into the joy of your master.” The one who gets the brass ring in God’s eyes is the one who has been faithful and a good steward of the things he has already been given.

Do you want to be successful in the new year? Faithfulness is its key. What commitments and responsibilities have you been given already that you need to work on? How can you demonstrate that you are “faithful with a few things”? When God sees He can count on you to manage a few things, he will give you more responsibility, and if you are faithful, more success.

Something to think about for your voting decisions.

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Promises, Promises

“I promise to . . .” are famous last words of a candidate, and often just as forgettable. We are approaching another election cycle, and I thought these words might be helpful when we are looking at choosing a candidate for public office. Often Christians are at odds with each other as to what makes a good candidate for office, because we are concerned about a candidate’s private morality (which we only rarely glimpse) and how he lines up with the Scriptures, as we understand them. Let’s be honest, no candidate will ever live up to our perfect ideas. And Scripture doesn’t come close to this absolute standard.

Romans 13 gives us a concise description of the role of government. “He is God’s servant, an agent of wrath to bring punishment on the wrongdoer.” (vs. 46) The Government is God’s agent to bring justice to the criminal and protection for the oppressed. God established this role way back in Genesis 9:6

“Whoever sheds the blood of man,

By man shall his blood be shed;

For in the image of God

Has God made man.”

God defines crime as those listed in the ten commandments. While the first five deal with matters of faith, the last five concern the right to private property, the sanctity of heterosexual marriage, the sanctity of human life, and the necessity for truth and honesty in public discourse. If you are looking for a “good” candidate for office, ask them how they stand on these issues.

Now consider those in Scripture who were called by God to fulfill His purposes: The Pharaoh of Egypt, whose obstinacy led to the 10 plagues and the Passover. Nebuchadnezzar, who captured Judah and sent them into exile for 70 years. Cyrus the Persian who fulfilled God’s promises to Jews by sending them back to the land of Israel. None of these men were Christians, and we could probably point out many faults in their leadership. Yet God used them to accomplish His purposes.

The sole role of government, as ordained by God, is to bring justice and punish the wicked. Any candidate that rewards wrong behavior and punishes good behavior is ignoring the proper place and role of government. Any candidate who justifies the death of the innocent (the unborn or the aged) and protects the life of the guilty is resisting his mandate from God.

For example, a candidate that wishes to punish good economic behavior, including having a well-paying job, or a successful business, by levying higher taxes, is not bringing justice. God blesses the righteous, and he blesses their finances as well. Excusing this by stating that taxes will be cut for the majority of Americans does not justify punishment of those who are successful for the benefit of those who are not. The majority of Americans work for someone who is wealthier than they are. If the wealthy have higher taxes, they will reduce costs, the most expensive of which is labor. Do you work for a company whose bottom line is so narrow, that even a slight increase in taxes will mean someone’s job? How is this the role of government, to decide who works and who doesn’t?

The role of government is to punish the wrongdoer next door or in another country, whether the wrongdoer is powerless or powerful. Wrong isn’t defined by what polls desire, but by the immutable standard of God’s Word. Justice is to be blind to social status or economic class. The government is called to do justice, so that the righteous may flourish. A candidate that steps outside of this narrow role and practices social reform is well outside his mandate. Only the power of God can change the heart of a man (see Jeremiah 17:9). Only God can bring about reform. The Law only makes you feel guilty. Only God grants grace to those who trust in Jesus.

Just some thoughts as you enter the voting booth.

In Christ,

Aryn Meritt