Sexual Scandals in Public Office

Eliot Spitzer, former Governor of New York state, resigned in disgrace five years ago for soliciting prostitutes. Last week he announced he will be running for New York City Comptroller which would make him the chief fiscal and accounting officer of the 4th largest city in the world. Similarly, Anthony Weiner, former Congressman from New York, who resigned from Congress in 2011 after sending inappropriate pictures of himself to a female Twitter follower, has announced his candidacy for Mayor of New York. Current polls suggest he has a fair chance of winning. Can you imagine the prospect of a US city being run by these two people? Some years back in the USA if a politician was caught in disgraceful and immodest behavior they would quickly wither away into oblivion. In the past, leaders in the USA found to be lacking in ethical conduct or personal judgment while in office would express their regret and apologies and then silently step out of the public arena. However today, in a nation that used to elect leaders based on Judeo-Christian ethics, the Nike culture prevails. To a large extent, ‘just do it’ or ‘win at all cost’ describes the ethics of this great nation.

download Before we continue the inspection of the saw dust in the eye of the USA, are we paying attention to the plank in our own eye? The moral lives of politicians in Africa south of the Sahara are not even discussed! Even though most of our nations do not separate religion and the state, when it comes to divorce, extra-marital relationships, mistresses or prostitution our leaders do not see these as disgraceful or shameful. While Americans may seem forgiving of sexual sin, Africans do not even make it an issue in the political arena.

Whatever the case, sexual sin creates a breakdown of the family and the nation. King David and King Solomon messed up their families and nation as a result of sexual sin. It is no different today. We must not let political leaders get away with sexual sin without reproach.  Sexual sin left unchecked will lead us down a slippery slope that will only further undermine the family and the nation. 

Politics is a noble duty. The fact that the two Americans can run for office knowing their constituents are fully aware of their indiscretion suggests the population is tolerant of sexual sin. As African democracies grow, citizens must learn how to identify and vote for quality leaders. The values that hold true for leaders in every culture include: marriage to one husband or wife, hardworking, love for neighbor, service to community, care for the environment, and love for nation. The church is best positioned to develop people with such character qualities. Paul teaches that a leader must be blameless, faithful to his wife or husband, a person whose children follow his example who are not open to the charge of being wild and disobedient not pursuing dishonest gains and loves what is good (Titus 1:5).

Good governance requires leaders who are selfless, hardworking and above reproach. People who do not know Christ think this is an impossible task.  Apart from Christ, we agree, but those who are in Christ have an enormous reservoir of grace available to us by which we can commit ourselves to and live up to these high values. Many in our churches seek to live this kind of life. The church must encourage them to be available for leadership in public office. Otherwise the moral fabric of our nations will erode on our watch.  

Lawrence Temfwe