Stoning the immoral…..
How should I as a follower of Christ react when someone in public office gets caught in a moral misconduct? The past couple of days, Len Brown, the Mayor of Auckland, has been in the news. His action has not only caused embarrassment and pain to himself, but to his family as well. His integrity is shattered. And it has created a public uproar.
Society has an unwritten moral code for people in public office. It is the moral expectation that society has for people carrying out public duties. These expectations vary depending on the level of trust and responsibilities the public office demands. In other words, the public would expect a higher standard of integrity from a mayor or a ministers or senior members of the military or police force than a librarian, or a community worker or a clerk in an office. That is why there is often a public uproar when the behaviour of certain people in public office goes against the perceived moral expectations people have of the office. The behaviour does not need to be a criminal act, or an abuse of the power and authority of the office or mismanagement of public resources. The official’s actions just needs to go against the moral expectations of society.
The problem exists when the unwritten code of morality varies within society. Our society is so diverse that it is virtually impossible for society to have a universally accepted moral code. Ethnic groups, religious groups, socio-economic groups, age groups, etc have different standards of right and wrong. Some groups hold stricter standards than others. So how do we measure the behaviour of people holding public office when moral standards are very subjective? What do we do when a person holding office does something that is not illegal but goes against the moral code of the public? Whose code should we use to judge that official?
As a follower of Christ, I wonder what would Christ do? Jesus often challenged the religious leaders and public officials of his day. This was because they were practising hypocrisy. But then at times he met with public officials to explain to them the ways of God and allowed them the space to change. Jesus often invited people to change and do what is right. God is a God of second chances. And I am glad of that. Anyone who acknowledges that moral failings and do whatever is needed to make restitution, is given another chance. Is that something we could offer to people in public office who has done nothing illegal but have failed morally? If they acknowledge their action and makes restitution, could we give that person another chance? I would. Would you?