Searching for moral leadership? Look within.

There’s a question begging to be answered in our current cultural moment: “Where is the moral leadership in our nation?”

It’s not in Hollywood or in the halls of Congress.

It’s not in the media or in the White House.

But is it in YOUR house? How about mine?

Is it in GOD’s house, and if so, which one?

Why is it so hard to identify a single moral leader in America when Jesus clearly stated it’s the job of Christians to be just that?

WE are the light of the world.

WE are the salt of the earth.

 But if salt loses its saltiness…it has become worthless, so it is thrown out and people trample on it. (Matthew 5.13 GNT)

Are we Christians worthless in this current cultural moment?

Yes, if we choose party over piety.

Yes, if all our moral eggs are placed in the ballot box.

Yes, if we defend people instead of the Gospel which calls guilty souls to repent and change.

If all of this is true, then yes; we deserve to be trampled.

No, we don’t have to be perfect. I don’t know anyone looking for perfect Christians. But they aren’t looking for hypocrites either. Those are easy to find. On one hand, it’s because Christians are too hard on sinners. Like Pharisees, we love to shame those who fail and stone them in the public square. Unfortunately, Christians are known for being mean and judgmental.

On the other hand, Christians are too easy on sinners by engaging in what I call wimpathy. Wimpathy is feeling sympathy for someone else’s moral failings because we also have failed. If we give a friend a pass, we can get one too.  Christian men who struggle year after year with pornography may qualify as overly wimpathetic. Yet a man who gawks is no different than a man who gropes. Jesus said so:

Your heart can be corrupted by lust even quicker than your body. Those leering looks you think nobody notices—they also corrupt. Let’s not pretend this is easier than it really is. If you want to live a morally pure life, here’s what you have to do: You have to blind your right eye the moment you catch it in a lustful leer. You have to choose to live one-eyed or else be dumped on a moral trash pile. And you have to chop off your right hand the moment you notice it raised threateningly. Better a bloody stump than your entire being discarded for good in the dump. (Matthew 5.27-30, MSG)

Good for the dump. Trampled and thrown out. That’s why we can’t find moral leaders. We’re hard on others and easy on ourselves. We are hypocrites.

To be clear, Christian women are just as guilty. Many of us, including me, would be mortified to have our skeletons cast into the public square for media scrutiny. I came to Jesus in 1981 as a college student guilty of sexual sin. While I wasn’t a predator or a criminal, I still have ugly secrets that I hope never see the light of day.

Yet this photo of Princeton’s chapel symbolizes the presence of God on the campus where I discovered my moral bankruptcy.


And this discovery was a gift. Like the woman caught in adultery and dragged into the public square, I was touched by the Savior who neither condemned me nor allowed me to walk away without clarity about my next step: “Go and sin no more.”

Jesus Christ was our great example of moral leadership. He did not condemn anyone for their sins, but he had expectations of repentance and change. While it’s easy to throw stones right now, each of us would do well to examine our own hearts for wimpathetic complacency. Then we’ll have the credibility to lead others on their journey to new life with the Savior. True moral leaders lead others to His cross.

Jesus spoke to the people once more and said, “I am the light of the world. If you follow me, you won’t have to walk in darkness, because you will have the light that leads to life.”

John 8.12 (NLT)


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