scalesFor when Herod had John arrested, he bound him and put him in prison because of Herodias, the wife of his brother Philip.  For John had been saying to him, “It is not lawful for you to have her.” (Matthew 14:3, 4)

Politics and illicit sex.  They’ve been side-by-side since God instituted human government.  Abraham forced his wife, Sarah, to say she was his sister (two separate times!) because he knew the pagan rulers would kill him to claim her sexually because she was “a beautiful woman”.  Egypt’s Pharaoh (Genesis 12:10-20) and Gerar’s Abimelech (Genesis 20:1-18) both took Sarah into their houses and both received a big surprise when they found out she was married, but we can see it was still common to take women they wanted.

Samson, an Israelite judge, visited a prostitute (Judges 16:1).  David infamously took Bathsheba as his wife and had her husband killed (2 Samuel 11:2-21).  In Solomon’s palace one would be hardpressed to find a room or corridor that didn’t contain a wife or concubine (1 Kings 11:3).    

Then there was Herod the tetrarch from the verses above.  He was sleeping with his brother’s wife.  When John the Baptist called him on the carpet for that, Herod had John thrown into prison and eventually had him beheaded.

What can the Church learn from all this and what is its responsibility to these leaders who are still falling centuries later?  John the Baptist’s example is one worth following, I believe.  The condemnation of Herod’s impurity was not all John said to him.  John’s message always centered on repentance and turning to God, and we can be sure he confronted Herod with the same words.  As he did that, John also spoke up for right living and gave the tetrarch an example of sin he should turn away from.

Should we do that?  Why not?  The Scriptures are the judge, not us.  Speaking the truth to power doesn’t have to be done harshly or hatefully, but with a goal of repentance and recognition that God’s Word should be obeyed from those whose hearts love Him and have been changed by the gospel.   It’s not wrong to point out areas of weakness and failure.  Obviously, today’s immorality may not be as public as Herod’s nor is infidelity the only sin that must be confronted.

Our world would call this over the top.  Too judgemental.  But ask yourself a couple of questions if you follow Christ:  Is it possible we keep seeing this marital cheating in our leaders because the Church is not showing the way morally in our land?  I’m not talking about pushing a moral legislative agenda, but actually living moral lives ourselves for the nation to see that there’s a different value system for believers, then having the moral authority to speak up for right living.  And are we in prayer for our leaders’ marriages or their temptations and thought lives (1 Timothy 2:1-4)?

Maybe we just expect politicians to cheat, so why try to change it?  Because with every act of infidelity, with every press conference to announce the latest moral implosion, God’s glory is not seen.  The Church shouldn’t try to get government officials to repent of sin to make us feel better or maybe, just maybe, get that law passed that we care about so dearly.  The Church should be bringing the gospel to its leaders, praying for their salvation and desiring their deeper spiritual growth because God is great and must be seen as more beautiful than anything else in this world.

Let your representatives know you are praying.  Then really PRAY.  Offer to meet with them and get to know them.  Adopt one as a local church or small group.  Get into their lives to express this kind of care.  Take cookies.  At some point, address eternity and share your testimony.  This may not be John the Baptist’s exact method, but there are several differences between John’s lifestyle and ours.  Did you have locusts for lunch?  What we can do is follow his example of having direct contact with a leader. 

If confronting sin is needed, say what needs to be said.  Calling sin what it is is not judgemental.  It is required if the true gospel is to be shared.  It should be done in love with one end result in view: magnifying God and seeing Him treasured.  I don’t see the Church with a priority like this when it comes to engaging its culture and government.  What is the answer to the title question for this post?  God is the Judge.  The Church must get serious about impacting its leaders with the truth.