True in 98, True Now: Resolution on Moral Character of Public Officials

Resolution on Moral Character of Public Officials

Salt Lake City, Utah – 1998

WHEREAS, “Righteousness exalts a nation, but sin is a disgrace to any people” (Proverbs 14:34 NAS); and

WHEREAS, Serious allegations continue to be made about moral and legal misconduct by certain public officials; and

WHEREAS, The Bible calls upon all citizens to submit themselves to their governing authorities as ministers of the Lord (Romans 13:1; 1 Peter 2:13); and

WHEREAS, Scripture further teaches, “Whoever resists authority has opposed the ordinance of God; and they who have opposed will receive condemnation upon themselves” (Romans 13:2); and

WHEREAS, Governing authorities are not themselves exempt from the rule of law and must submit to the nation’s statutes, rather than mocking them (Romans 13:1; 1 Peter 2:14; Proverbs 19:28-29; 2 Samuel 12:7; Mark 6:17-18); and

WHEREAS, Some journalists report that many Americans are willing to excuse or overlook immoral or illegal conduct by unrepentant public officials so long as economic prosperity prevails; and

WHEREAS, Tolerance of serious wrong by leaders sears the conscience of the culture, spawns unrestrained immorality and lawlessness in the society, and surely results in God’s judgment (1 Kings 16:30; Isaiah 5:18-25); and

WHEREAS, Many public officials and candidates deserve our gratitude and support for their consistent moral character and their uncompromising commitment to biblical principles of right and wrong, resulting in blessing upon their people.

Therefore, be it RESOLVED, That we, the messengers to the Southern Baptist Convention, meeting June 9-11, 1998, in Salt Lake City, Utah, affirm that moral character matters to God and should matter to all citizens, especially God’s people, when choosing public leaders; and

Be it further RESOLVED, That we implore our government leaders to live by the highest standards of morality both in their private actions and in their public duties, and thereby serve as models of moral excellence and character; and

Be it further RESOLVED, That we urge all citizens, including those who serve in public office, to submit themselves respectfully to governing authorities and to the rule of law; and

Be it further RESOLVED, That we urge Southern Baptists and other Christians to fulfill their spiritual duty to pray regularly for the leaders of our nation (1 Timothy 2:1-4); and

Be it finally RESOLVED, That we urge all Americans to embrace and act on the conviction that character does count in public office, and to elect those officials and candidates who, although imperfect, demonstrate consistent honesty, moral purity and the highest character.

Reposted, with permission, from www.sbc.net.

2580 reads

There are 30 Comments

Mark_Smith's picture

Trump's sexual allegations and in some cases admitted (in books, interviews, etc) occurred before he was in office. Does that count in this resolution?

Does a public official need a public confession day before taking office so we know all the things they have done to make sure they are pure before taking office?

 

 

Kevin Miller's picture

Mark_Smith wrote:

Trump's sexual allegations and in some cases admitted (in books, interviews, etc) occurred before he was in office. Does that count in this resolution?

I don't see why it wouldn't. We pretty much always have to look at a person's life "before being in office" to see if they "serve as models of moral excellence and character." Of course, things done while in office can influence that characterization as well.

Quote:
Does a public official need a public confession day before taking office so we know all the things they have done to make sure they are pure before taking office?
I don't think we have to know "all the things they have done" to determine if someone lacks moral character. Even just knowing a few things about them can tell us that. If someone has an immoral history, then a humble attitude and a spirit of contrition goes a long way toward making that person into a model of what moral excellence should look like. If a person were to claim that they have done nothing that they would need forgiveness for, then that person likely isn't even trying to have a moral character.

 

[/quote]

Mark_Smith's picture

is Trump is a unique character. He is a brash, public figure with decades of celebrity status. He is in someways open about his sins that others hide. He admits old sexual activity. He swears openly. Others hide these things and swear in private. I think some of his old claims from his pre-presidential period may even have exaggerations for the "shock value" of it or the "role" he was playing. He thought those claims made him look more attractive and interesting.

My personal conviction is Trump is no more a sinner than any other president. He is simply more honest about it.

For example, outwardly George Bush and his son were pious looking men. I have no doubt both swore in private, told dirty jokes. I have no doubt both denigrated mercilessly opponents. Shoot, they may have even had affairs for all I know.

In other words, if you have convinced yourself that Trump is a lying, womanizing scumbag, you might want to be sure Obama, Bush 2, Clinton, Bush 1, etc. weren't as well.

Kevin Miller's picture

Mark_Smith wrote:

 I think some of his old claims from his pre-presidential period may even have exaggerations for the "shock value" of it or the "role" he was playing. He thought those claims made him look more attractive and interesting.

I can totally understand why you would want to believe that.

Quote:
In other words, if you have convinced yourself that Trump is a lying, womanizing scumbag, you might want to be sure Obama, Bush 2, Clinton, Bush 1, etc. weren't as well. 
I'll be sure to try and find that out the next time I'm faced with a decision to vote for one of them.

Joeb's picture

Trump does not hide faults to a point but regularly lies if it's to his advantage.  He has never admitted making a mistake and shifts the blame.  However Americans voted him in knowing what he was.  I have no sympathy for his third wife.  She knew what she was getting into and that Trump always likes a new model when the current one gets to old.  So she better be ready to be traded in down the road.  

Trump has no good character traits other than he is a great car salesman.  Probably a financial criminal but proving it and saying it are two different things.  He literally grew up with a silver spoon in his mouth and is not a self made man.  The Trump fortune was built on prostitution just like the Kennedy fortune was built on illegal liquor.  Trump's strong position he does take his promises to the American People Seriously and at least tries to put America First.  

All that said Trump is still a lowlife and a scum bag and I won't vote for him. American Evangelicals have compromised themselves by believing Trump never lies and never hold him to account ever.   It's almost like the followers of JACK HYLES. Very scary.   Plus most of the prominent Evangelical Pastors that were  very politically active in the Republican  Christian Right have crashed and burned in Scandals ie Bill Gothard Paige Patterson The Duggars etc.

However the above said and I know this will be the third time I said Trump will win the election this fall The only thing that would stop that is if Trumpland takes a big time hit from Corvid 19. If enough body bags pile up in Trumpland that might give Biden a chance.  Also if a bunch of people lose their health insurance at the same time due to the Supreme Court decision on Obamacare.    I hope and pray  that doesn't happen.   
 

 

Mark_Smith's picture

Judge much?

Wow. If you are so certain of your righteousness, go ahead and fire away. I know I'm not qualified to.

Joeb's picture

Not judging. My opinion of the man.  Mark I may use brass knuckle words but that's my opinion.  He spins conspiracy theories constantly and never takes responsibility for what he says or does.  Trump lies constantly about everything.  Trump is the ultimate car salesman which he is very very very good at.   I'll use softer words next time.  Trump is a public figure and Trump is the one whose ruined the position of the Presidency.  For all intensive purposes he has made the position verbally speaking a bare knuckle bar room fight with everyone drinking whiskey and placing bets on which fighter will win.   Trump did that and the Evangelicals that back him support that.   So why are you calling me out for judging.  

Bert Perry's picture

One can guess at likely reasons for re-posting this, but perhaps we ought to simply extend the discussion.  For example, is it more significant that someone may have cheated on his wife, or is it more significant that someone supports half a billion bucks per year bankrolling the nation's largest abortion provider?  Is it more significant that someone can't find a fact he cannot mangle on Twitter, or that someone supports policies used by all the most genocidal governments of the 20th Century, costing tens of millions of innocent lives?  (strict gun control)

Going way back, is it more significant that Jimmy Carter's opponent had been divorced (and may have been quite the man about town in his young days), or is it more important that Mr. Carter was downplaying the dangers of Communism while the CIA was telling him about the killing fields of Cambodia and the Cultural Revolution in China--and while Alexander Solzhenitsyn's books still smelled of fresh ink?  

Or, if one's on the port side, was Bill Clinton's serial womanizing more significant, or was it more significant that his opponents would "gut" the welfare safety net and let the poor starve?  (OK, wouldn't have really happened, yes, but it's a valid port side argument)

Long and short of it is that due to the reach of the government, our political debates do have life and death implications that make a "mere" affair, or a "mere" habit of being a "nonsenser" (to use a much nicer term than many would use), pale in significance.  I'm all for taking moral habits seriously, and that extends to the likely results of the policies a politician supports.

Aspiring to be a stick in the mud.

G. N. Barkman's picture

Thanks, Bert, for this helpful analysis.  Just as the "Never-Trumpers" cannot understand why any Christian could support a man like Trump, the pro-Trumpers cannot understand how a Christian can ignore the dire consequences should Hillary have won in 2016, and if Biden wins in 2020.  They are baffled that anyone would think the personal failings of Trump, serious as they are, are more dangerous than the amoral leftist policies of Trump's opponents.  They are puzzled as to why anti-Trumpers cannot understand that we are better served by a shady character who successfully dismantles previous leftist gains, than a leftist who builds upon those gains to push the agenda further to the left.   

G. N. Barkman

pvawter's picture

G. N. Barkman wrote:

Thanks, Bert, for this helpful analysis.  Just as the "Never-Trumpers" cannot understand why any Christian could support a man like Trump, the pro-Trumpers cannot understand how a Christian can ignore the dire consequences should Hillary have won in 2016, and if Biden wins in 2020.  They are baffled that anyone would think the personal failings of Trump, serious as they are, are more dangerous than the amoral leftist policies of Trump's opponents.  They are puzzled as to why anti-Trumpers cannot understand that we are better served by a shady character who successfully dismantles previous leftist gains, than a leftist who builds upon those gains to push the agenda further to the left.   

Sadly, this characterization of the Never-Trumper ignores the very arguments we have made over and over. We have no illusions about the absolute disaster of a Clinton or Biden presidency. Our objection to Donald Trump is based on his failure to meet what we consider base qualifications for the presidency and have nothing to do with Democrat whataboutism. Character still counts. 

Mark_Smith's picture

but Trump is the president, and either he or Biden will be president starting in January.

So what are you going to do? Complain for 4 years?

Bert Perry's picture

Now do you trust the known grifter, liar, cheater, sexual harasser Joe Biden to do what is abhorrent to God, or do you trust the known liar and adulterer Donald Trump to stumble into doing what is right before God some of the time?

Aspiring to be a stick in the mud.

M. Osborne's picture

If my approach to ethics was pure consequentialism, hands down I'd have voted for Trump in 2016 and again in 2020. And I completely get and respect those who approach this in a consequentialist way within a Christian framework of values and outcomes.

It's just that...

  1. I'm suspicious of consequentialist ethics.
  2. During the morass that was 2016, I came to think of my vote as a part of Christian witness more than anything else, and I thought that a vote for Trump would do more to mar than help my Christian witness. (Not like my vote is widely known.)
  3. On a purely pragmatic level, since I'm not heavily involved in politics, I have no better way to communicate to the candidates, "Your slate stinks; give me better options" than to vote for a third party or something. (But probably some aspect of game theory will explain why my way of thinking will never, ever hit critical mass.)

Michael Osborne
Philadelphia, PA

josh p's picture

There is another category of never Trumpers. I am in this group and it's those of us who believe his POLICIES are as disastrous as his character or more. While we aren't understanding each other, I can't understand how anyone that calls themselves a conservative (not a neo-con, an actual conservative; although most republicans likely don't know the difference) can vote for Trump. But, as has been repeated endlessly on SI, many would vote for Bernie if the other guy was a little more to the "left". I don't understand that but it's their prerogative to make that decision. 

Mark_Smith's picture

josh p wrote:

But, as has been repeated endlessly on SI, many would vote for Bernie if the other guy was a little more to the "left". I don't understand that but it's their prerogative to make that decision. 

I certainly never said that... Talk about a straw man! Bert where are you. Logic this guy!

Bert Perry's picture

Mark, Josh is perhaps exaggerating a bit--probably the results of his recent honeymoon, congrats, Josh ** --but he's actually pretty close to some things I've said about politics being a game of choosing the "least worst" alternative.  If the world is going to H*** in a handbasket, you choose the guy putting the handbasket on a donkey cart instead of the guy who would put it in the passenger seat of a Camaro with a teenage driver.

So while I hope our politics never gets the the point where a guy who found nothing amiss after honeymooning in a place with bread lines seems like the saner alternative, it's fair.  (there are those honeymoons again!)  Reality is that there are any number of areas where I as a near-libertarian am perplexed at what mainstream politicians will support--it ain't just the guy who actually got kicked out of a hippie commune for laziness.

**  The congratulations is sincere, the wisecrack about exaggerating because of a recent honeymoon is of course a wisecrack.

Aspiring to be a stick in the mud.

Joeb's picture

Bert I couldn't have put it better myself.   You got a triple on that one.   An honest assessment of both candidates.  It's greatly appreciated.  

josh p's picture

Mark_Smith wrote:

 

josh p wrote:

 

But, as has been repeated endlessly on SI, many would vote for Bernie if the other guy was a little more to the "left". I don't understand that but it's their prerogative to make that decision. 

 

 

I certainly never said that... Talk about a straw man! Bert where are you. Logic this guy!

No one said that exactly but the idea that no matter how bad the republican is they would always vote for them if even slightly better than the Democrat has been said A LOT. I once used the analogy of Stalin and Hitler and some actually said they may vote for one over the other. 

Mark_Smith's picture

I give up

dcbii's picture

EditorModerator

Mark_Smith wrote:

I give up

Mark, there's no point in spending a lot of time arguing with most any stripe of "never Trumper."  Unfortunately, that's even proven true here on SI.  Godwin's law has been proven correct again.  Just as with pretty much any other internet discussion, when any remotely possible reasons come up for for taking a position (or voting) in opposition to what others think, it was a foregone conclusion that someone would bring up a comparison with Hitler (and/or Stalin as the case may be).  Trump has been compared to Hitler too many times in the media to count, and more than once here on SI.  I completely respect those who want to make a different voting decision (even if I don't agree), but when those I disagree with then compare my position to picking between Hitler and Stalin (or questioning my Christian principles), it's time to tune it out and move on.  Not that much different from "giving up."

Dave Barnhart

pvawter's picture

Mark_Smith wrote:

but Trump is the president, and either he or Biden will be president starting in January.

So what are you going to do? Complain for 4 years?

I'll do what I did in 2016. Vote for a candidate that I can actually support, even if he has no chance of winning and ignore the false dilemma that has been used to strong arm so many into supporting an unqualified candidate.

josh p's picture

dcbii wrote:

 

Mark_Smith wrote:

 

I give up

 

 

Mark, there's no point in spending a lot of time arguing with most any stripe of "never Trumper."  Unfortunately, that's even proven true here on SI.  Godwin's law has been proven correct again.  Just as with pretty much any other internet discussion, when any remotely possible reasons come up for for taking a position (or voting) in opposition to what others think, it was a foregone conclusion that someone would bring up a comparison with Hitler (and/or Stalin as the case may be).  Trump has been compared to Hitler too many times in the media to count, and more than once here on SI.  I completely respect those who want to make a different voting decision (even if I don't agree), but when those I disagree with then compare my position to picking between Hitler and Stalin (or questioning my Christian principles), it's time to tune it out and move on.  Not that much different from "giving up."

 

Not a case of Godwin's law at all. Not sure if I was unclear but I have actually proposed that EXACT scenario, just to take the "lesser of two evils" scenario to the extreme, here on SI and someone said they might vote for one over the other. Please show where I compared Trump to Hitler. Quote me. My point was that there are those that don't vote for Trump for reasons more important (to them) than character, and that is his policies. 

Joeb's picture

I think Character matters but the extremes Right and Left have been HYPOCRITES.  Biden with his Me To issues is going to cause him problems with Democrats.  A lot of Bernie people will vote for Trump.  
 

Also how do you explain Kentucky and Nebraska going against Trump's  picks and endorsements for Republican Governors.  Why because both picks were Extreme Christian Republican Righties in the ilke of the Gothard Duggar category.   That to me says a lot especially in Nebraska.  Kentucky was fed up with their nut case Governor.    The voters tossed Walker out and Walker's State Supreme Court pick.  
 

The right wing voters love Trump but don't want these NUT JOBS  neither do most Democrats want the  likes AOC and the rest of the squad.   Kansas Republicans totally rebelled against Brown another extreme Christian Right nut job.  
 

These voters  see the things happening with Paige Patterson who was allegedly very involved with Bannon and the Donors to SWBTS threatening to use Republican State legislative power to reinstate Paige Patterson.   The voters don't miss that gross hypocrisy.  I think the same thing that is happening in Oklahoma that happened in Kansas to Brown.  The Republicans there are starting to rebel against another Christian Righty Nut.   
 

Just my opinion if I'm wrong then why did Trump's pick in Nebraska one of the reddest states in the Union not get elected to Governor.  Bert a little insight.   

Jeremy Horn's picture

Joeb wrote:

I think Character matters but the extremes Right and Left have been HYPOCRITES.  Biden with his Me To issues is going to cause him problems with Democrats.  A lot of Bernie people will vote for Trump.  
 

Also how do you explain Kentucky and Nebraska going against Trump's  picks and endorsements for Republican Governors.  Why because both picks were Extreme Christian Republican Righties in the ilke of the Gothard Duggar category.   That to me says a lot especially in Nebraska.  Kentucky was fed up with their nut case Governor.    The voters tossed Walker out and Walker's State Supreme Court pick.  
 

The right wing voters love Trump but don't want these NUT JOBS  neither do most Democrats want the  likes AOC and the rest of the squad.   Kansas Republicans totally rebelled against Brown another extreme Christian Right nut job.  
 

These voters  see the things happening with Paige Patterson who was allegedly very involved with Bannon and the Donors to SWBTS threatening to use Republican State legislative power to reinstate Paige Patterson.   The voters don't miss that gross hypocrisy.  I think the same thing that is happening in Oklahoma that happened in Kansas to Brown.  The Republicans there are starting to rebel against another Christian Righty Nut.   
 

Just my opinion if I'm wrong then why did Trump's pick in Nebraska one of the reddest states in the Union not get elected to Governor.  Bert a little insight.   

Joeb,

Regarding the Kentucky and Nebraska governor elections. I can't speak to Nebraska, but I can speak to Kentucky. It had zero to do with Bevin's alleged extremism. It was all about the teacher pension issue. For background, there wasn't/isn't enough money in the budget to continue funding the teachers' pensions. Bevin wanted to restructure the fund and it was massively unpopular. It was this issue that cost Bevin re-election. The race between Bevin and Beshear was very close, so close that Bevin didn't concede right away and called for a recount.

dcbii's picture

EditorModerator

josh p wrote:

Not a case of Godwin's law at all. Not sure if I was unclear but I have actually proposed that EXACT scenario, just to take the "lesser of two evils" scenario to the extreme, here on SI and someone said they might vote for one over the other. Please show where I compared Trump to Hitler. Quote me. My point was that there are those that don't vote for Trump for reasons more important (to them) than character, and that is his policies. 

Actually, I didn't say you had compared Trump to Hitler.  That was never my intention.  I just went back and re-read what I wrote, and it does read as if I was referring to you in my contention about Godwin's law.  I apologize for that.  I was actually meaning the original post that you were referring to (and I still believe that other comparison is indeed a case of Godwin's law), but not to yours.  I stated it poorly, and I'm sorry it came out that way.

I still have no intention of trying to justify my choices to either those who question my Christianity or compare my voting strategy to a choice between Hitler and Stalin and having to not vote for either.  I know lots of people who didn't vote, or went 3rd party, my own pastor among them, but I decided (for me) that that was a strategy that was ultimately self-defeating, so I didn't go that direction.

Dave Barnhart

Joeb's picture

I appreciate your clarification on Kentucky.   PA has had on going war over the Teacher's and State Worker's pension fund with Republican against Republican and Democrat against Democrat and Republican against Democrat.  So it's understandable that could be a divisive issue from every which way.  
 

I see both sides having the lack of character problem.  

Bert Perry's picture

In effect, that's exactly what the United States did during WWII by supporting Stalin (#2 genocidal maniac ever) in hiss war against Hitler (only the #3 genocidal maniac ever by total # killed)..   We also supported Mao (#1 genocidal maniac ever) in his battle against the Japanese (#4 or so).

Obviously in "politics by other means", we might consider that we don't have easy choices, no?

Aspiring to be a stick in the mud.

josh p's picture

Dave, thanks for the clarification. 

josh p's picture

Bert Perry wrote:

In effect, that's exactly what the United States did during WWII by supporting Stalin (#2 genocidal maniac ever) in hiss war against Hitler (only the #3 genocidal maniac ever by total # killed)..   We also supported Mao (#1 genocidal maniac ever) in his battle against the Japanese (#4 or so).

Obviously in "politics by other means", we might consider that we don't have easy choices, no?

Bert, yes these are difficult times given the extreme polarization. I don't really see the parallel there with voting. Certainly there is a pragmatism there but supporting a country in warfare is not the same (to me) as electing an official to govern one's country. I do think the US has largely made foolish decisions in who it supported in history but, in the case of Stalin, he was respected by a lot of US politicians at that time and the revelation of the Terror hadn't come to light yet. 

Bert Perry's picture

Well, Josh, are we suffering the cold blooded murder of nearly a million pre-born babies per year?

If preserving a core of democracy in England, France, Germany, and Japan allows us to partner with the #1 and #2 genocidal maniacs in the world, perhaps mitigating the modern Holocaust allows us to vote for an adulterous liar when he's running against a liar who ran interference for her adulterous husband. 

Or put differently, the character issue is one of many, and policies and results are also a moral issue.  You make the best choice given the circumstances, and I'm quite frankly pleasantly surprised at the results with my vote to keep Hilliary Clinton out of the White House.

Aspiring to be a stick in the mud.

Help keep SI’s server humming. A few bucks makes a difference.