Friday, July 03, 2009

Pastors, where are your priorities?

Another long day in traffic. Another extended period of time listening to NPR. This time it was a short opinion piece by Daniel Schorr on the now bizarre case of Gov. Mark Sanford and his cheating ways. The title--"Cover-Ups Hurt Cheating American Politicians"--explains the premise of the three-minute long segment I heard as he opined that cheating doesn't necessarily hurt politicians (see Silvio Berlusconi in Italy for example) but the fact that American politicians cover-up their cheating does (see Bill Clinton).

However Schorr ends his time by opening us up to his own bewilderment:

One is left to wonder what makes politicians like ex-Sens. John Edwards of North Carolina and Gary Hart of Colorado jeopardize promising careers by cheating on their wives. Henry Kissinger famously said, "Power is the great aphrodisiac."

First, if he is right, the career wouldn't necessarily be jeopardized if politicians in America were as forthright as Berlusconi. As much as we claim propriety in this nation, I have my doubts. However, I was immediately saddened by the priorities expressed in these words.

Does one really have to wonder so long to figure out what makes promising politicians cheat on their wives? Could it be that Schorr and men like Sanford and Edwards see the political career as jeopardized by cheating on their wives as opposed to their marriages being jeopardized by their pursuit of power? Schorr's quoting of Kissinger touches it somewhat, but what he communicates in his words is that marriage should serve the career advancement, thus if the marriage is in danger, the career is in danger. Therefore politicians must do whatever it takes to portray the image that the marriage is okay, even if it includes covering it up.

What a devastating, broken view of marriage. Sadly this happens in our churches too. Professors in all my classes communicate time and time again the devastating effects of pastors who get their priorities all mixed up. They cling to their positions as pastors, finding identity in the power they have instead of it being in Christ. As that lust takes over it permeates into other areas of life, many times leading to cheating on their wives. Then, as if utterly blind, they try to hide their sin instead of confessing it, thinking that their pastoral position is jeopardized by cheating instead of being repentant because their marriage is destroyed by their lust for power.

I have to ask, pastors, where are your priorities?

Pastors, please know I am praying for you. I pray you do not see marriage in life as something that advances your own personal cause or career. In a conversation one evening with my pastor I was reminded that I should see marriage as a main vehicle for mutual service, sacrifice, and love that exalts Christ. I hope I see marriage as a beautiful, but incomplete picture of our relationship with Him--the Church as His Bride.

In doing so I trust my public service as a pastor will be honest and full of integrity, giving as opposed to self-serving. Schorr, Kissinger, and countless others have power wrong. Power is not the great aphrodisiac. Real power is found in great sacrifice.

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