By Harry Osborne
Does character matter anymore? Do you care whether one tells the truth, exemplifies fidelity, avoids intoxication or exhibits other factors consistent with good character? Some polls in recent weeks have suggested that many are willing to excuse a President with significant character flaws because they discount the importance of character to leadership, especially when they think he brings them economic advantages. It seems to me that the same tendency may be seen throughout our society.
One need not think very hard to come up with several cases of esteemed athletes widely used in advertising and other ways who have been caught in various unlawful or unethical actions. The defense of their continued use is that the athletes are not intended to be role models in character, even though they are taken as such by many young people. When disciplinary action is taken against offenders, it rarely amounts to more than a slap on the wrist.
This disregard of character is sometimes taught at an early age. Have you seen coaches of young children seek to win even if it meant cheating? It is a sad fact that youth sports are being marred by adults who bring foul language and alcohol usage into the presence of children. Is that a proper influence regarding character to be placed before our children or does such matter to us?
The same questions could be asked about the effect of teachers, governmental officials and others who have influence in our society. If their character is flawed, can they be trusted to lead in their given areas? The Bible declares that character issues should be carefully viewed and that one without good character should not be trusted for leadership. For example, notice these statements of Scripture about the importance of good character in leaders.
Regarding the need for righteousness — “It is abomination for kings to commit wickedness, for a throne is established by righteousness. Righteous lips are the delight of kings, and they love him who speaks what is right” (Prov. 16:12-13).
Regarding the need to speak the truth — “Excellent speech is not becoming to a fool, much less lying lips to a prince” (Prov. 17:7). “The truthful lip shall be established forever, but a lying tongue is but for a moment” (Prov.
Regarding the need to shun promiscuity — “Do not give your strength to women, nor your ways to that which destroys kings” (Prov. 31:3). “Whoever commits adultery with a woman lacks understanding; he who does so destroys his own soul. Wounds and dishonor he will get, and his reproach will not be wiped away” (Prov. 6:32-33).
Regarding the need to avoid intoxicants — “It is not for kings to drink wine, nor for princes to seek intoxicating drink; lest they drink and forget the law, and pervert the justice of all the afflicted” (Prov. 31:4-5).
If the need for character was seen by those guided by God’s inspiration, why is our society increasingly showing disregard for the importance of character? If a man’s words cannot be trusted, how can his leadership? If a man’s words are filled with fifth, why should we expect anything different with his actions? If he is given to drugs and alcohol, how can we be confident in his sobriety at times when wise judgment is needed?
Character does matter! In fact, one’s character is the best gauge we have by which to judge one’s fitness for leadership. If we disregard flaws in one’s character and put him or her in a place of leadership over our children or our country, we are inviting disaster upon ourselves. God has always blessed righteousness and punished evil. Remember Sodom and Gomorrah?