I, like it seems most everyone else in this country, have experienced a huge range of emotions as a result of this upcoming election. I have heard the question asked more than once of "how did we get here?"
Character and behavior have seemed to be what is in question, which clouds the deciphering of issues and policy. Both candidates have certainly invited in a lot of criticism and disgust from those watching, and most conversations have been well deserved.
And although I surely can't defend either one's behavior in any way due to my own frustration, I have been equally frustrated by the disconnect of those around who have grabbed hold of two distinct areas of concern: Donald Trump's view and treatment of women and Hillary Clinton's propensity towards lying and deception.
As a woman, I of course have been disgusted by comments that have been said and appreciate those I have heard speak out and rise against it. However, during the midst of controversy, I read 2 new reports of pornography use in our country and have found a slew of studies that have been done that connects excessive porn use to disrespectful views of women and to an increase of sexual and violent attacks against them.
The studies have shown that 70% of men in this country and 30% of women engage in some form of pornography at least once a week. To my dismay, the findings of those who attend church regularly is not far off according to a comprehensive study by Josh McDowell and the Barna group.
There are many who argue about the affects of porn use on men and defend the "boys will be boys" ideology, but as I have studied how it is crafted and how it affects brain function, I find it hard to dismiss that the same disrespect that Donald Trump gets criticized for is the same underlying disrespect that fuels the attraction to pornography.
What I have had a hard time managing in my own mind, is the apparent hypocrisy of those who cry out disdain against one man's lewd comments and behaviors while, according to the statistics, are secretly engaging in similar behaviors. There seems to be a disconnect.
Hillary Clinton, on the other hand, is being criticized by her alleged lies and deceitful behavior which is frustrating at best. Even members of the typically liberal media have expressed their distrust. I find this interesting as well since according to a 2002 study by the University of Massachusetts, 60% of adults in this country can't have a 10 minute conversation without lying at least once. Of course, we all want to argue over the definition of lying, but in doing so are we only trying to find ways to ease our own consciences.
The hypocrisy seems to ooze from this area as well. We all comment on the instability that comes from not being able to trust what is being said by one of our nation's leaders, but we know that we deal with dishonesty every day in one form or another. The same person calling Hillary a liar is the same person who lies to their husband when questioned about the new dress hanging in the closet, saying they have actually had it for a long time and he just hasn't bothered to notice. I don't know too many ladies who haven't fallen for that one.
I'm in no way dismissing the actions of either of the two candidates, but what I am frustrated over is our in-congruency as people. Most citizens in this country have been taught a set of moral standards based on what is acceptable behavior and what is not. These standards come from an ideology rooted in what is thought to be both beneficial for those outside of ourselves as well as what benefits us as individuals.
The average person is identifying the behaviors displayed by the two candidates as unacceptable. I find it interesting that this same kind of behavior is entertaining when portrayed on some sort of reality tv show or an aggressive, confrontational talk show. Again, there is a disconnect.
As a person who has accepted Jesus Christ as my personal Savior, I have been called to shift my focus from following my own set of standards, which are unstable and inconsistent at best, to follow the standards set forth by the Bible and Jesus Himself. Those of us who follow Christ need to start having a better conversation and this election has given us an opportunity to do just that.
God is clear in His word that the human heart is consumed by sin and defaults to ungodly behavior naturally. Jeremiah 17:9 says "The heart is deceitful above all and desperately wicked." When we fail to understand that, we can be like the man referenced in James 1:23 who fails to apply the truths he finds in scripture when he sees himself in the mirror for who he truly is one moment and then forgets when he walks away. When away from the truth, he starts to see himself as someone much better than the reflection showed.
When we start to see ourselves as being much more righteous than we really are, we fall into the trap of in-congruent living. I think this can take on two results. One trap is that we can live two distinct lives. We live out the righteousness that we possess through our oneness in Christ, but are dishonest with ourselves and others about our craving for sin. We find it hard to accept this true reflection of ourself so instead of authenticity and repentance, we slip into hiding and secrecy. This is why one man can go to church in the morning and speak up against the travesty of disrespect towards women, but can later go home and click onto sights that support those same lewd views.
The other trap is that we become self-righteous and judgemental of those who are are not living up to the standards that we find important. The church as a whole is often criticized for this very thing which is a problem. It's easy to become frustrated by those who seem to have no regard for behaviors we find to be offensive or which contradict Biblical standards. The interesting piece of this is that those who are openly accepting their own sinfulness, and are living accordingly, are at least living within their own authenticity.
The new conversation I would like for us to start having is this: If we truly believe that we all have sinned and have fallen short of the glory of God (Romans 3:23) and that the only remedy we have to pull ourselves out of that life of sin that only brings destruction and heartache in the end (Phillipians 3:18-19) is to accept Jesus and the salvation He offers, then instead of criticism and disdain, we need to be sharing truth.
The truth is that without the Holy Spirit working in our heart, we all naturally turn to lies to cover our lack of judgement at times. Without having the Word of God written on our hearts to convict us, we all can turn to gossip, slander, lewd comments to get a laugh, disrespectful views about the other sex, other races, and those we find weak.
We as the people of God, need to see the disconnect and connect the two pieces that Jesus was so brilliant at. The merging of grace with truth and discipline. Grace towards those who don't understand that God has created them for righteousness and that they actually have a way out of the darkness they feel trapped in without even realizing it. Truth and discipline, calling for repentance and a change of behavior after being called out for behavior that is harmful to everyone.
I have heard it said that leadership reflects the heart of the people. If there is any truth to that then this election has given people a glimpse of what is really being revealed in the reflection displayed by these two candidates. I find it comforting that the vast majority haven't liked it and are rebelling against it. It opens up an opportunity for those of us who know where the real power for change comes from and that trying to control behavior on our own effort breaks down over time. We need to remember that if even we who know that Christ provides the power we need for change to occur, depend on our own devices, we are all one decision away from disaster. To see ourselves any different is arrogant and dangerous.
This is what God wanted us to remember:
And you were dead in your trespasses and sins in which you previously walked according to the ways of this world, according to the ruler who exercises authority over the lower heavens, the spirit now working in the disobedient. We too all previously lived among them in our fleshly desire, carrying out the inclinations of our flesh and thoughts, and we were by nature children under wrath as the others were also. But God, who is rich in mercy, because of His great love that He had for us, made us alive with the Messiah even though we were dead in trespasses. You are saved by grace! Together with Christ Jesus He also raised us up and seated us in the heavens, so that in the coming ages He might display the immeasurable riches of His grace through His kindness to us in Christ Jesus. For you are saved by grace through faith, and this is not from yourselves; it is Gods gift-not from works, so that no one can boast. For we are His creation, created in Christ Jesus for good works, which God prepared ahead of time so that we should walk in them. Ephesians 2:1-10
Maybe this is the conversation we need to start having--