By Donna Lee Schillinger
This is a great season for anyone who is into politics. For the rest of the nation, it really bites! People you have known for years suddenly change in character when allegiance to a particular party or candidate is at stake. In some ways, it’s better people watching than on Bourbon Street during Mardi Gras. It’s fun to see how passionate some people can become and what competition brings out in us. I agree with author Gary Thomas, who said, “An apathetic person is a pathetic person’” and in general, I applaud wholesome, passionate living. Yet just like other passions, political passions run amok can be self-destructive, and in this election, I have noted that passion’s target of destruction is often the Christian character of integrity.
Integrity is one of those traits difficult to grasp; it’s often used synonymously with honesty, or is simply defined as “doing the right thing even when no one is looking.” Integrity includes both honesty and doing the right thing, but it’s much more than that. Its dictionary definition is, “adherence to moral and ethical principles; soundness of moral character in the whole person.” The word comes from the root “integer,” which means “whole” Indicates that these values, beliefs and faith should fully permeate our lives. It’s also helpful to contrast “integrity.” The word has no true opposite and “lack of integrity” still leaves you wondering what integrity really is! Two good contrasts are “compromise for lesser principles,” and “inconsistency in living out one’s morals and ethics.”
Election 2012 has left integrity in short supply nationwide. The Democratic Party lacked integrity when it passed the motion to restore the God and Jerusalem language in its platform. The party chairman heavy-handed the motion which needed a two-thirds majority verbal vote to pass and, in each of the three different calls to vote, came up obviously short. (You be the judge: watch the two-minute video of this infamous vote). Alternately, the Religious Right lacked integrity in quickly spinning the event to further disgrace the Democrats by saying they had “booed God.” It would have been impossible to say with certainty (without interviewing a good many of them), but in all likelihood, they were booing the bogus call of the chairman.
Given my conservative circle of friends, I can provide more examples of lack of integrity from Republicans than I can from Democrats. A Ron Paul supporter, I nonetheless found myself continually defending Obama from slanderous attacks upon his faith and personal character, trying to reason with my friends who, for example, circulated the spliced, diced and pre-cooked video, “Obama Admits He is a Muslim.”
I understand, however, that not everyone who circulates a fallacious video or article is actually lacking in integrity. Many people are lacking in discernment. Between the receiving of garbage and the forwarding it to one’s entire email list, we should ask ourselves the critical question: “Does this seem reasonable?” How many times a quick trip to Snopes or Wikipedia could have answered that question and changed the course of action! Still other individuals are simply uneducated about what constitutes reputable journalism.
Yet for many, lack of discernment is no excuse. It is certainly not an excuse for the Billy Graham Evangelistic Association. Last week, after meeting with Mitt Romney, the Association removed Mormonism from a list of cults on its web site. Was Mormonism on the list to begin with only because no truly important personage had ever been a Mormon? That’s all that has changed here. No, the association’s decision makers removed it because to them, it was more important to change the political regime in this country than to remain truthful about Mormonism. The decision-makers sacrificed truth at the altar of political power.
Integrity, however, is not like virginity (thank God!). You can get it back. The first step, as always, is to repent of having compromised on certain values, morals, and ethics. Then it’s as easy as just being, through and through, who you say you are. And when you botch it—which we all do from time to time—humbly get back on track as quickly as possible.
Are you a Christ-follower? Do these words mean something to you: “Remind the people to be subject to rulers and authorities, to be obedient, to be ready to do whatever is good, to slander no one, to be peaceable and considerate, and always to be gentle toward everyone” (Titus 3:1,2)? If these words are among those you value, if they are formative in your morals and the basis for your ethics, I urge you to wholly, integrally embrace them and live them out … whoever wins the election.
Donna Lee Schillinger is editor of the recent anthology Purity’s Big Payoff/Premarital Sex is a Big Rip-off, winner of the 2012 Christian Small Publisher’s Book of the Year. In 2008 she founded On My Own Now Ministries to encourage faith, wise life choices and Christ-likeness in young adults. On My Own Now publishes the free, monthly online magazines, Single! Young Christian Woman and Genuine Motivation: Young Christian Man.