Leadership and The Sixth Commandment

By Rev. Kim Latterell, Synod Bishop’s Associate

Given the craven state of affairs among our current political leadership, perhaps it is fitting, a ripe time to recall the Sixth Commandment, its prohibitions and encouragements. As the commandments are meant to both address human sin and guide civil life for the good of all, a refresher about fidelity seems timely.

Regarding adultery, Luther in his Small Catechism explains the Sixth Commandment this way: We are to fear and love God, so that we lead pure and decent lives in word and deed. And each of us loves and honors our spouse. And in his Large Catechism on the same commandment, Luther adds: Married life is no matter for jest or idle curiosity, but is a glorious institution and an object of God’s concern. For it is of utmost importance to God that persons be brought up to serve the world, to promote knowledge of God, godly living and all virtues, and to fight against wickedness and the devil.

So, if Luther offers a true picture of fidelity, how is it that so many Christians have chosen to offer blind support in turning a blind eye to corrupt political leadership? Support is given to a President accused by dozens of women of inappropriate sexual behavior, groping, rape, and voyeurism, who brags of such assault and also of how many married women he seduced. Hush money payoffs to models and porn stars simply get brushed aside. Similar support is offered on behalf of a Supreme Court candidate accused of sexual assault by two, perhaps three women, along with a refusal by that same party’s leadership to actually investigate claims or interview potential witnesses. Such support had also been offered by that same group to a Senate candidate credibly accused of sexual assault upon underage school children and young women. More names can be added to such a list of corrupted politicians.

Luther writes clearly of how strong the challenge is in the human heart and flesh to be found faithful. He offers no Pollyanish view of human nature. But he counsels no out from the call to human decency, respectability and fidelity in how we treat one another. And he holds every human no matter the rank or station to the same high moral standard and expectation.

Rather than silence, or partisan support, or simply a shrug of the shoulders and a so what, Christians (of all people, no matter political party affiliation) must speak up, react against, and work to curtail such unacceptable behavior in order to have God’s gift of good and just government. Christians are to stand with victims, not perpetrators. Luther again (LC):

“This commandment is directed against every form of unchastity, no matter what it is called. Not only is the outward act of adultery forbidden, but also every kind of cause, provocation and means, so that your heart, your lips and your entire body may be chaste and offer no occasion, aid or encouragement to unchastity. Not only that, but you are to defend, protect, and rescue your neighbors whenever they are in danger or need, and, moreover, even aid and assist them so that they may retain their honor.”

There is no justification for failing to hold such leaders to account.

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