Friday, January 31, 2020

Humility! Can We Impeach on this Value?

It's a sad and tragic time in the U.S.A. An impeachment trial in the Senate is underway. Democrat or Republican, one can only grieve that the political situation has become so desperate that we have reached this critical event.

Neither of my Senators have responded to my fundamental impeachment question. I asked them both if it was against the law to solicit help from a foreign government for aid in an electoral campaign. Now the non-partisan Government Accountability Office has just issued a report that when the President held up aid allocated by Congress for Ukraine, he broke the law. Whether that legal opinion, or the news from one of the principal Ukraine players, Lev Parnas, will have any effect on our Senators, the trial, and the hyper-partisanship in the Senate, remains to be seen.

            For me, the legal questions are secondary to the moral questions. I'd like to see an impeachment inquiry by a broad and diverse gathering of religious leaders and ethics scholars to try the President on ethical and moral grounds. There's nothing I'd like better than to witness the retiring editor of Christianity Today, who sees the President having a "grossly immoral character," in the same debate hall with Franklin Graham. Or I'd love to watch Serene Jones , President of Union Theological Seminary, go toe to toe with Paula White, the President's personal pastor.

Probably the first moral issue I'd ask them to address would be lying, since that seems to be the President's most grievous sin. As of December 15, the Washington Post claimed the President had made 15,413 false or misleading claims. That's a lot! Of course we all know the Washington Post is part of the "liberal" press that doesn't like the President. Besides, I can hear some of his supporters say, some of those claims may have been out of ignorance or to protect some important national secrets. Can we forgive what my mother called, "little white lies?'

        But then yesterday I watched the President answer a question about Lev Parnas, saying he didn't know him, didn't know who he was or what he did. That, after I had seen several different pictures of the President with Mr. Parnas, including video at Mar-a-Lago, and several others where Parnas was laughing it up with the President's personal lawyer, Mr. Giuliani. The President's response to the questioner was what my mother would call a "bald-faced-lie!

I'd ask the moral impeachment gathering to consider what Scripture has to say about lying. Although I'm not one to use Scripture as proof text for my personal convictions, I know many evangelical Christians do. So I'd like the gathering to consider Proverbs 12:22: "The Lord detests lying lips, but he delights in people who are trustworthy." Or given the tendency of the President to bully, threaten and demonize his opponents, maybe the moral impeachment trial should consider Ephesians 4:29: "Do not let any unwholesome talk come out of your mouths, but only what is helpful for building others up according to their needs, that it may benefit those who listen."

Maybe the religious leaders could take the following list of Christian values and examine the defendant according to each of them. Christian Sunday Schools try to instill these values in children (that's where the list originates): respect; responsibility; self control; moderation; honesty; integrity; kindness; compassion; forgiveness; contentment; thankfulness; patience; perseverance; peace; loyalty; commitment; justice; hope; service; joy; humility.

Humility! Can we impeach on this value? There's a story in the Gospel of Luke about two men who went up to the temple to pray. Jesus told this parable, "to some who trusted in themselves that they were righteous and despised others." In the parable, one was a Pharisee and the other a tax collector. One was a braggart and the other one recognized his limitations. Jesus concluded, "for everyone who exalts himself will be humbled, but he who humbles himself will be exalted."

I'd like the trial to consider humility … and wealth and poverty. Maybe they would consider the story of the widow's mite in relationship to the Trump Charity that cheated kids with cancer, was fined and disbanded.

Perhaps more important than any other, the impeachment gathering might examine the President on his concern and care for God's good Creation. How might he respond to Romans 1:20? "For since the creation of the world God's invisible qualities - his eternal power and divine nature - have been clearly seen, being understood from what has been made, so that people are without excuse."

Carl Kline

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