The Price for Abandoning Principle
…to go against conscience is neither right nor safe. Here I stand; I can do no other. God help me. Amen. – Martin Luther
We’re taught that there may be a price for holding principles. Integrity could cost us our friends, our possessions, even our life. But there’s also a price for abandoning principle. And that price is much higher.
We see so many illustrations of this right now. Senator Ted Cruz, who once advised us to “vote your conscience,” discovered that he couldn’t exist in the political atmosphere of the times without endorsing a man he believes to be a liar. So for the sake of keeping his position and being able to do the right thing in the Senate, he did the wrong thing.
This is an expression of unbelief. Only me, only my party, can save the republic, so we have to do unprincipled things in order to get elected. But isn’t “doing unprincipled things in order to get elected” what we’re fighting against? Isaiah 2:22 reads, “Stop regarding man, whose breath of life is in his nostrils; for why should he be esteemed?” (NAS95)
The consequences of sticking to our guns are devastating: the loss of power, bad guys in charge, the death of the republic. OK, let’s agree on that. But Jesus said there’s something worse than death. Don’t fear the guy who can only kill you, He taught! If the republic ends but we retain our integrity, we have a foundation on which we can rebuild. (That was my argument last time.) If representative government lives on, but there’s no one in it with any integrity, what’s the point?
As I write this, some prominent Republicans are calling on Donald Trump to step down from the ticket because of his latest scandal. (Call me cynical, but there are probably worse Trump revelations to come.) What if Ted Cruz hadn’t endorsed Mr. Trump? What if he – alone like Churchill – had warned of the moral implosion of the Trump campaign? What if Cruz – as godly leaders do – had insisted that principles are inviolable even though the country crash down around us? Today, Senator Cruz would be the moral leader of the Party, and perhaps one day, the leader of the nation. As it is, he’s just another reluctant Trump voter.
Take another example: the pathetic evangelical “leaders” who cozied up to Mr. Trump despite his clear lack of biblical qualifications. Again, lack of trust in God led to trust in man. These shepherds led their flocks into plastic pastures of human power. Many of them are backpedalling today. They should at least take some time off from leadership for self-examination.
Where are the Shadrachs, the Meshachs, the Abed-negos who will say, “Our God is able to save us – but even if He doesn’t, we will not bow?” If the worst happens and no cavalry rides over the hill at the last moment and we lose everything on earth, we will not give up our hold on heaven!
That’s faith. In Hebrews 11 we see that faith caused some to be delivered, and others to be stoned. Some won great battles, some were sawn in two. There may come a point for each of us when we get to decide whether we’re going to pay the high price of principle, or the higher price of abandoning principle. The world, or your soul? The devil will try to dress up the choice and make it look a lot more complicated than that, but that’s the choice.
Christians, our forbears accepted torture and death rather than sprinkle a pinch of incense at the altar of the state deity. Only a tiny compromise. Only getting along to go along. Only doing a harmless little wrong in order to do so much good. No, tell my kids I love them and I will see them in heaven.
How are we able to hold our heads up as their descendants?
John F. Kennedy said, “There is little value in insuring the survival of our nation if our traditions do not survive with it.”
If those “traditions” include our best virtues of faith in God rather than man, valuing a clear conscience above all, and seeking God’s kingdom even if it means the demise of our once-beloved political system, then I agree.
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