We live in an age of sexual scandals. It seems almost every area of society is marked by the stench of lies and infidelity. It’s not that more scandalous activity is occurring than did in the past (Ecc. 1:9), but there is little doubt that in the Internet era such scandals are far more likely to be exposed.
Perhaps no other realm is more infamous and more despised for its sexual hypocrisy than that of politics. The sexual integrity of many of our nation’s politicians has been compromised. And yet many of them still hold their political offices; some even seek higher ones.
Many evangelical Christians are now wondering whether a politician’s sexual history should affect their ballot box decision. Should such scandals matter to Christians seeking to vote in a way that is faithful to Scripture and glorifying to God?
The Bible warns against selecting spiritual leaders with a history of violations of their marital covenant and teaches that such information should be taken into account when selecting such a leader (1 Tim. 3:2; Titus 1:6). While these passages aren’t specifically speaking of political leaders, the principles about leadership are transcendent. When God gave Moses instructions on selecting political leaders, He required Moses to only select men who “hate covetousness” (Ex. 18:21). The principles in this passage are transcendent, too. Covetousness is sinful desire for that which is not yours. As such, all sexual lust is covetousness.
A leader (whether spiritual or political) whose life is marked by marital infidelities reveals his lack of integrity and poor decision-making abilities. Show me a leader who will do what’s in his best interest despite his responsibility in marriage, and I’ll show you a leader who will do what’s in his best interest despite his responsibility to voters. A leader who can’t be trusted when he is alone is a leader who can’t be trusted in front of millions. Character is who you are when nobody’s watching.
There’s no more important earthly covenant than those of your marital vows. Every marriage is a reflection on Christ, for good or for bad. Every human marriage says something about the relationship between Christ and His Church. Sometimes what is said by a marriage is good and true, and sometimes what is said about Christ by a marriage is a total lie and perversion. A man who claims to be a Christian is charged by God to love and honor his wife just as Jesus Christ loves and honors His Church.
Many politicians nowadays portray themselves as good Christian family men. Yet, behind closed doors, these same men live in flagrant contradiction to their carefully cultivated persona. But private morality and public morality are not two separate issues. They are totally intertwined. The Bible condemns those hypocritical people who pretend to be moral while secretly living immorally.
Of course, there is the issue of Christian forgiveness. If one is guilty of transgression and they have repented and reconciled and have done all that God requires for restoration, then Scripture does teach Christians to accept and rejoice in their redemption by God. But betrayals of trust, even if forgiven, don’t immediately restore confidence in the offender. God requires Christians to willingly forgive others, but He does not encourage naivete. Even if a politician’s repentance is genuine, the earthly consequences of his past adulteries are not automatically removed. Scripture teaches that there are often long-lasting results of sin.
The role of a Christian husband is far more eternally significant than the role of a national politician. A husband’s vow of faithfulness is even weightier than a politician’s oath of office. While failure as a politician may bring shame on a nation, failure as a Christian husband brings reproach to Christ, who is never unfaithful to His Church. If a man’s wife couldn’t trust him to uphold his covenant vows in marriage, why should others trust him in less significant matters like national leadership?