Moral Leadership

A biblically based examination of moral leadership in all aspects of human society, spawned by the current controversy surrounding the American President


The following study is occassioned by the present national crisis. Our government is about to begin an impeachment inquiry for the express purpose of determining whether it is appropriate to impeach the sitting president, Bill Clinton. Of course, it is not the purpose of this article, or this magazine to engage in political activity. However, it is appropriate to comment upon these circumstances as they serve as a barometer of this nation's current moral climate. Such an examination will allow us to make pertinent suggestions on how to more effectively please God both as a nation, and as individual Christians seeking to influence our people (nationally) for good.

The Current Situation

Despite these indiscretions, the President's approval rating remains high. Note the following article, which appeared in the October 12th edition of the Ft. Worth Star Telegram

As additional proof of our contention that President Clinton remains popular in our nation despite his current troubles with congress, we submit the following article as well.

The Current Controversy Reveals a "Symbiosis" Regarding a Leader's Moral Behavior, and the Moral Standards of the People He or She Leads.

This is the basis for our article. It is a premise that is easily proven by Scripture. In this article we intend to do the following:

Israel's Kings As Examples of Immoral Leadership Affecting the People

Jeroboam, the first King of Israel (Divided Kingdom), built gold calves in Dan and Bethel, because he was afraid the people would return to Jerusalem to worship, and "go back to Rehoboam king of Judah." In doing this, the Bible states that he caused the people to sin. "And he set up one in Bethel, and the other he put in Dan. Now this thing became a sin, for the people went to worship before the one as far as Dan" (1 Kings 12:29-30). Nadab, Jeroboam's son, followed in his footsteps. "Now Nadab the son of Jeroboam became king over Israel in the second year of Asa king of Judah, and he reigned over Israel two years. And he did evil in the sight of the Lord, and walked in the way of his fatehr, and in his sin by which he had made Israel sin" (1 Kings 15:25-26).

A quick listing of all the Kings of Israel reveals evil rulers were the rule:

Evident from the preceding list is the fact that the Kingdom of Israel was characterized by corrupt leadership, idolatry and immorality. To illustrate this corruption, note the following excerpt from the Holman Bible Dictionary article on the prophet Amos. It speaks to the moral conditions of Israel during the time of Amos, prophet of Israel. These were characteristic times of this rebellious nation.

The reader may note the condemnation of the rich ladies of Israel in Amos 4:1-3, "Hear this word, you cows of Bashan, who are on the mountain of Samaria, Who oppress the poor, Who crush the needy, Who say to your husbands, 'Bring wine, let us drink!' The Lord GOD has sworn by His holiness: 'Behold, the days shall come upon you When He will take you away with fishhooks, And your posterity with fishhooks. You will go out through broken walls, Each one straight ahead of her, And you will be cast into Harmon,' Says the LORD." Israel was condemned because of her ungodliness. Amos 4:12-13, "'Therefore thus will I do to you, O Israel; Because I will do this to you, Prepare to meet your God, O Israel!'" For behold, He who forms mountains, And creates the wind, Who declares to man what his thought is, And makes the morning darkness, Who treads the high places of the earth; The LORD God of hosts is His name."

The preceding particulars regarding the rebelliousness of Israel serve to show the causal relationship between ungodly leadership and the moral decline of a people. The circumstances we see presently in our society were mirrored in antiquity by the corruption of Israel's kings and people. In contrast to this ungodliness and corruption, we assert that godly leadership can help to solidify a nations standing before God.

Josiah, King of Judah, An Example of a Good King

Josiah's grandfather Manasseh reigned for 55 years in Judah. His reign was characterized by evil and "abominations". Scripture reveals that he caused his sons to pass through the fire in the Valley of the Son of Hinnom; practiced soothsaying; witchcraft & sorcery; consulted mediums and spiritists. (2 Chron. 33). Josiah's father, Amon reigned for 2 years, and followed the lead of his father Manasseh (2 Chron. 33).

Josiah became king at age 8, and reigned for 31 years (2 Chron. 34:1). He was the last good king of Judah. At age 20, he destroyed the alters and idol worship (34:3-7). At age 26 he gave orders to repair the temple (34:8). His heart was "tender", and he "humbled" himself before God when he found the book of God's law. (34:26-27). He read the Book of the Covenant to the people (34:30). He "made all who were present in Israel diligently serve the Lord their God. All his days they did not depart from following the Lord God of their fathers." (34:33). He made the people keep a Passover to the Lord (35:1). 2 Chronicles 35:17-19, "And the children of Israel who were present kept the Passover at that time, and the Feast of Unleavened Bread for seven days. There had been no Passover kept in Israel like that since the days of Samuel the prophet; and none of the kings of Israel had kept such a Passover as Josiah kept, with the priests and the Levites, all Judah and Israel who were present, and the inhabitants of Jerusalem. In the eighteenth year of the reign of Josiah this Passover was kept."

Josiah was the last king to reign over a free Judah throughout his reign. Jehoahaz, Jehoiakim & Jehoiachin reigned as Judah faltered, and all did evil in God's sight. Judah fell into Babylonian bondage, and captivity. The final glory of Judah came as a result of the remarkable and laudable moral leadership of the good king Josiah.

King of Ninevah an Example of the Influence of Leadership

Many are familiar with Jonah's message to the king and city of Ninevah, "Yet forty days, and Nineveh shall be overthrown" (Jonah 3:4). Note the response of the King of Nineveh: Jonah 3:6-9, "Then word came to the king of Nineveh; and he arose from his throne and laid aside his robe, covered himself with sackcloth and sat in ashes. And he caused it to be proclaimed and published throughout Nineveh by the decree of the king and his nobles, saying, 'Let neither man nor beast, herd nor flock, taste anything; do not let them eat, or drink water. But let man and beast be covered with sackcloth, and cry mightily to God; yes, let every one turn from his evil way and from the violence that is in his hands. Who can tell if God will turn and relent, and turn away from His fierce anger, so that we may not perish?'" Also noteworthy is God's reaction to the penitent heart of the king and the people of Ninevah. "... and God relented from the disaster that He had said He would bring upon them, and He did not do it" (Jonah 3:10).

This event as recorded in the book of Jonah serves to illustrate our point regarding the ability of a "leader", in this case the King of Ninevah, to influence the people for good. It was because of his example, and his command that the people repented. He had the ability to influence and the position to facilitate their change of heart.

Society Suffers from a Lack of Morality in Its Leaders

This is true with regard to the social climate we see in America today. You have heard the sentiments being expressed. "Character doesn't matter." "What the President did is between him and his wife. If she can accept it, we should be able to as well." Attacks on Kenneth Starr, and the Republicans in Congress are very popular, continuing the trend of "killing the messenger." Statements that the proceedings are "unfair" serve to obfuscate the terrible crimes and sins of which the President is guilty.

Our society closely mirrors the immoral society we see in New Testament times. Notice the Apostle's description of an immoral society, present in the first century, "And even as they did not like to retain God in their knowledge, God gave them over to a debased mind, to do those things which are not fitting; being filled with all unrighteousness, sexual immorality, wickedness, covetousness, maliciousness; full of envy, murder, strife, deceit, evil-mindedness; they are whisperers, backbiters, haters of God, violent, proud, boasters, inventors of evil things, disobedient to parents, undiscerning, untrustworthy, unloving, unforgiving, unmerciful; who, knowing the righteous judgment of God, that those who practice such things are deserving of death, not only do the same but also approve of those who practice them" (Romans 1:28-32).

Paul states on another occassion, "Do you not know that the unrighteous will not inherit the kingdom of God? Do not be deceived. Neither fornicators, nor idolaters, nor adulterers, nor homosexuals, nor sodomites, nor thieves, nor covetous, nor drunkards, nor revilers, nor extortioners will inherit the kingdom of God. And such were some of you. But you were washed, but you were sanctified, but you were justified in the name of the Lord Jesus and by the Spirit of our God" (1 Corinthians 6:9-11).

These verses describe an ungodly people, and Paul reveals them worthy of judgment. And it is appalling how accurate that description is of our nation today. God judges the nations (and will judge America, barring repentance). Note the principle Paul establishes in Romans 13:1, "Let every soul be subject to the governing authorities. For there is no authority except from God, and the authorities that exist are appointed by God." Further, he states in Acts 17:24-26, "God, who made the world and everything in it, since He is Lord of heaven and earth, does not dwell in temples made with hands. Nor is He worshiped with men's hands, as though He needed anything, since He gives to all life, breath, and all things. And He has made from one blood every nation of men to dwell on all the face of the earth, and has determined their preappointed times and the boundaries of their dwellings."

A lack of moral leadership is also seen with regard to a lack of ethics in business. It is not uncommon to see the abuse of workers by employers. In fact, one of the most disturbing things about Clinton's indiscretion is that he took advantage of his position, and influenced someone who worked for him to engage in evil. Of course, Ms. Lewinsky was not guiltless in this matter, and was guilty of leaving here place in the "employer/employee" relationship. Such is also common today, insubordination, larceny and rebellion on the part of employees is the rule rather than the exception.

The Bible regulates the employee/employer relationship. For example, "Servants, be submissive to your masters with all fear, not only to the good and gentle, but also to the harsh. For this is commendable, if because of conscience toward God one endures grief, suffering wrongfully" (1 Peter 2:18-19). Also, "Bondservants, be obedient to those who are your masters according to the flesh, with fear and trembling, in sincerity of heart, as to Christ; not with eyeservice, as men-pleasers, but as bondservants of Christ, doing the will of God from the heart, with goodwill doing service, as to the Lord, and not to men, knowing that whatever good anyone does, he will receive the same from the Lord, whether he is a slave or free. And you, masters, do the same things to them, giving up threatening, knowing that your own Master also is in heaven, and there is no partiality with Him" (Ephesians 6:5-9).

The lack of moral leadership in America is seen espcially in the American family. The husband and father has been given very grave responsiblities as "head" of the home (cf. Ephesians 5:23). Today we have men who are absent fathers (not husbands, or not devoted); husbands who are not attentive to their wives; epidemic rates of adultery and fornication; and men who are not taking the responsibility to be the spiritual leaders in the home. Paul said in Ephesians 6:4, "And you, fathers, do not provoke your children to wrath, but bring them up in the training and admonition of the Lord." Joshua proclaimed in Joshua 24:15 "And if it seems evil to you to serve the LORD, choose for yourselves this day whom you will serve, whether the gods which your fathers served that were on the other side of the River, or the gods of the Amorites, in whose land you dwell. But as for me and my house, we will serve the LORD." Notice the effect Joshua's pledge had on the people (a good influence). Joshua 24:16-17, "So the people answered and said: "Far be it from us that we should forsake the LORD to serve other gods; "for the LORD our God is He who brought us and our fathers up out of the land of Egypt, from the house of bondage, who did those great signs in our sight, and preserved us in all the way that we went and among all the people through whom we passed."

Finally, there is in many instances a lack of moral leadership in the church. The examples which illustrate this fact are endless. For example, immorality among deacons and preachers (we all know of the examples). It is of the utmost importance that preachers and elders maintain the utmost decorum with women. Stay away from even the appearance of impropriety. Stay away from pornography (the internet makes it easy). Keep yourself morally pure.

Other examples which show a lack of moral leadership follow.

There is the need for leadership in the Lord's church in our time. What we need in the Lord's Church today:

Some Suggestions that We Christians Can Follow
to Make Things Better in Our Society

First, follow the above suggestions already discussed. Become a model employee, or employer as per God's Word. Become a righteous and devoted father as per God's Word. Apply ourselves as elders and preachers as per God's Word. But there are some other things we have not yet covered. Suggestions that will be helpful in bringing change to a decayed and hurting society.

First, become involved socially. Take part in the political process. Join civic organizations, and become involved in community activities. Take an active interest in the educational process. All of these social activities are good and will help the Christian to be involved in areas where much good can be done. However, the Christian should realize that these social activities, while good and helpful, are not where the problem of immorality and ungodliness in our society will be solved!!!

We must recognize that the best way we can help society is through our Christian influence and lives. We must be as good as possible in serving as righteous examples to the world. Peter said, in 1 Peter 2:11-12, "Beloved, I beg you as sojourners and pilgrims, abstain from fleshly lusts which war against the soul, having your conduct honorable among the Gentiles, that when they speak against you as evildoers, they may, by your good works which they observe, glorify God in the day of visitation." In addition to serving as Christian examples, we should do the following:

Conclusion

It is evident to those who have not been unduly influenced by the deceiver that character and moral leadership is important to society. This is true on the national scale, as well as in our individual lives as we work, interact with our families and friends, and as we seek to serve our God. It is easy, however, for us to wag our fingers at the immoralities in our society, and not recognize the dangerous influences society can have on us as Christians. We may not go to "X" rated shows, but is our entertainment above reproach? We may not wear thong bathing suits, but is our dress modest? We may decry the ungodliness of our leaders, but do we "vote our pocketbook?" We may not cuss, but do we sometimes gossip? We may not murder or physically abuse, but are we guilty of fomenting strife? We may refute the false doctrines in the denominations, but do we recognize and refute those who begin teaching false doctrine among us who we may personally like or admire? Can it be truly said of us that we are pilgrims and sojourners, whose lives are characterized by righteousness?

1 Peter 2:13-17, "Therefore submit yourselves to every ordinance of man for the Lord's sake, whether to the king as supreme, or to governors, as to those who are sent by him for the punishment of evildoers and for the praise of those who do good. For this is the will of God, that by doing good you may put to silence the ignorance of foolish men; as free, yet not using liberty as a cloak for vice, but as bondservants of God. Honor all people. Love the brotherhood. Fear God. Honor the king."


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