Saturday, February 18, 2017

Good for Thee, But Not for Me

You've probably heard the, undoubtedly grammatically improper, saying that things sometimes seem to be curioser and curioser. This came to mind the other day as I was reading an article on our new president. According to the author, Mr. Trump is of the mind that the world should hearken back to the time when family was paramount, morals and faith were essential and the American work ethic was the driving engine behind the country's prosperity. Nothing strange about that, you may say, since conservatism is all about recapturing what have been the long-held values of our country.

However, what came next was really what made the article seem like something taken out of the annals of science fiction. After listing the above values in an approving way, the author goes on to explain that Mr. Trump holds these firm convictions while at the same time not applying them to himself. And what seemed to be even more interesting, was the fact that the article's author was, at the same time, decrying the liberal penchant for wanting to force on others what they perceive is good for them while at the same time living their lives in a completely opposite way. 

The question that inevitably needs to be asked then, is just how can a president expect his subjects to behave in ways that he doesn't seem to find important enough to apply to himself? There is no doubt that a "do as I say, not as I do" philosophy will lead nowhere. But that is even more important when it comes to a country's leaders. In a day and age when anything a leader does is almost instantaneously pasted all across our TV, computer and cell phone screens, the idea that you can parade your immoral lifestyle in front of the world while at the same time expecting others to behave differently, acquires a new sense of incredulity. 

And just this week we got another example of this tendency of enjoining on others what we do not do ourselves. The president’s nominee to be Labor Secretary, Andrew Puzder, had to withdraw his nomination because he was found to have hired an illegal immigrant as a housekeeper. How is it possible for someone, who was slated to serve in an administration that has made the curtailment of illegal immigration a priority, to go through the betting process with that “skeleton” in his closet? Just another in a long line of events that demonstrate the amazing cognitive dissonance that so many of our ruling class have.

I am reminded of the Lord Jesus' instruction to his disciples in Matthew 24. It is a well-known fact by anyone paying attention, that the Pharisees of Jesus' day were the champions of the "do as I say, not as I do" philosophy. Their habit of enriching themselves at the expense of others while at the same time berating those who did not behave in a "proper" manner was legendary. It is not for nothing that they have come to be seen by every subsequent generation as the epitome of what hypocrisy is all about. And the lesson to be learned from such behavior is clear and unmistakable. The Lord told his disciples to do as the Pharisees said, since they were the ones who interpreted the Law, but not as they did. He then goes on to excoriate the Pharisees for their actions and attitudes. For someone to want to follow in their footsteps is, to put it mildly, distressing.

It should come as no surprise to any of us that politics is an often-dirty game. Many an honest and sincere man or woman have sought to enter into the politics arena in hopes of making a difference in the lives of their co-citizens. But what often ends up happening is that they are the ones who are swallowed up into the machine and end up becoming what they so much loathed and wanted to change. When you have someone who is unapologetic about his moral deficiencies, but who at the same time seeks to change the way others behave, you have a recipe for failure. 

This attitude is most vividly seen in the hallowed halls of the Hollywood elite class. Not long ago, I read an article describing why some of Hollywood's darlings had "moved on" concerning belief in the God of the Bible. Two of them were singled out as being good examples of this trend. Brad Pitt and Oprah Winfrey, who had both been reared in homes that valued a belief in God and the morality that accompanies it, had come to the realization that they did not want to follow the God of the Bible. And the reason? Because such a "self-promoting" God is not worthy of honor. In their mind, following a "narcissistic" God would be about the worse sin you could commit. This in reaction to the Bible's assertion that God seeks to glorify himself in everything and that we, his creatures, must be about glorifying him in all we do. 

I mention this, because it shows the absolute moral blindness that afflicts so many in our pop culture. Here you have two members of the most narcissistic and self-promoting class in the world, complaining that God--who is the creator of the universe and who alone possesses all the qualities that make a being perfect, holy and praise-worthy--seeks to glorify himself. It is not surprising, however, that in a world such as ours, where light has been put for darkness, such individuals would engage in that type of behavior.    

It may be that the Trump presidency will become one of the most successful in our nation's history, as the world counts success. That success, however, will come in spite of the moral failings of the man at the top and certainly not because of them. The way the world counts success is not the same way that God does. If, at the end of the Trump presidency our country is more financially secure and healthy, that will be a good thing. But if at the same time, it is even more morally bankrupt than it already is, the "success" achieved will be no more than a pyrrhic victory. In the end, "what shall it profit a man [or a nation] if he gains the whole world, but forfeits his soul" (Mark 8:37).


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