Politics and Purity
Every day, as I read through the Bible, I’m amazed by what doesn’t change. People have always been people, and we will forever continue to make the same mistakes. Proverbs 31 contains advice from a mother to her son, who happens to be a king. We don’t know anything about him, but the words his mother gives him as advice still ring true today.
Whether we’re a king, senator, sheriff, or just an average citizen, there is some application for us Proverbs 31. However, verses 1-9 seem to be particularly applicable to those who are in power over others. It seems like the tricks and traps of politics have always been the same, and they probably always will be. If we happen to be a leader of some kind, these words are especially useful for us if we want to glorify God through our leadership.
Leaders Must Be Pure
The Queen Mother warns her son that women will steal his strength and “destroy kings”. What is it that makes women so wicked, anyway? First, this isn’t a blanket condemnation of all women, just those individuals who would use their bodies for political gain or intrigue. Mom’s concern is that he son might use his position of power to have inappropriate relationships with women.
How many scandals must we endure before we see the truth of this sentiment? I thought about putting a list of recent scandals, but that’s not necessary. People know what happened, and, if you don’t, just wait and there will be another. These affairs often result in blackmail, resignation, divorce, murder, and all sorts of other nasty, terrible things.
If leaders are going to be effective, then they need to be pure. This is doubly true about leaders glorifying God. How can an impure leader glorify God with their power? It would be very difficult if not impossible to do. While everyone who names Jesus as their savior should strive to be pure, leaders seem to be especially susceptible to this temptation, and their fall often has further reaching implications.
This cuts both ways. It’s not just men who need to be careful. The latest statistics show that men and women are unfaithful at about the same rate. As more and more women work outside the home, the percentages of adultery are equaling out between the sexes. While in the ancient world mom’s advice would have been mostly for men, now, it applies equally to both genders.
Impurity Destroys Families
The most common leadership position in the world is “Father and Mother”. Whether physically or spiritually, we are all parents to someone. This means that we are leaders in some way, too. Just like impurity destroys political leaders, it destroys other types of leaders.
Adultery destroys families. Some might rationalize their infidelity by claiming they’re not hurting anyone or that they’re only hurting their spouse. However, this isn’t true. Adultery harms everyone involved, including God. First, we hurt ourselves spiritually. We have been bound to the Lord (1 Cor 6.17-20) and our sins affect him, too.
Second, we hurt the person we have covenanted with in marriage. Whether they ever know about it or not, adultery is the breaking of a solemn oath sworn to one’s spouse and to the Lord. They are hurt through lost affection, failing dedication, lost time, and a whole host of other reasons. Adultery not only breaks a covenant, it steals what rightly belongs to one’s spouse and gives it to another.
Third, families are harmed because the leaders are impure. Fathers who cheat on their wives teach their sons that faithfulness is optional. This creates a “family tradition” of adultery. Children who come from a family where adultery occurs are more likely to pass a bad decision-making process on to their children and their grandchildren. Fathers also teach their daughters to expect unfaithfulness as part of the package in marriage.
Mothers who commit adultery do the same thing, but, in my personal experiences of counseling, it seems to hurt the children even more. If a woman wants to harm her children psychologically and emotionally for generations, then she should commit adultery. That’s a surefire way to do it.
What is the “strength” that mom warns Lemuel about losing? Is this a risqué reference? A comment on political capital? More than likely, it’s something else. A ruler’s ability to act and get things done is their strength. When a leader’s own house is in turmoil, they usually cannot effectively manage other things, either. This is likely one of the reasons that a shepherd in the Lord’s church must “manage his own household well” (1 Timothy 3.4).
In families, we lose our legacy, our direction, and our ability to function well as a family. The Lord gives children as a heritage (Psalm 127.3), and infidelity harms them, often ruining their relationship with the adulterous parent. The strength to weather difficulty, overcome temptation and live righteously that God has built into the family structure is removed when infidelity is introduced. All of the bulwarks that protect a family from the wiles and influence of Satan are dramatically affected, if not entirely removed.
Let’s be people who stay away from adultery. We should decide ahead of time that it isn’t going to happen and then purpose to keep away from any temptations that might lead us down that road. For some people, this means never having a private conversation with without your spouse present. For others, it means switching jobs or relocating to a new place. Whatever the cost, it is always less expensive to avoid adultery than to give into temptation. Our spiritual well-being and the direction of our families for generations hangs in the balance of the decisions we make every day.
Let’s be people who give our strength to the Lord. He alone knows the best way to live and the right thing to do in every situation. Let’s determine to filter all of our decisions through the word of God, always looking to him for guidance.