I read the news today – oh boy….
Unless you are not in touch with current events in the US, you’ve heard the story.
Supreme Court Justice nominee, Brett Kavanaugh, has been accused of sexual assault when he was in high school. And the breaking news is he has been accused by another woman of assault while he was in college.
And in checking the story I see that just now a lawyer is about to release information (or so he claims) regarding at least one incident of gang rape by Kavanaugh and his friends at some point in the past.
And there’s a lesser-known story (overshadowed by the Kavanaugh story) about Representative Keith Ellison abusing his wife or girlfriend or something… (I didn’t look too hard because the specifics aren’t super relevant to this rambely blog post.)
And, of course, we all know the story by now, about the President’s own admission, on tape to a TV gossip show host, saying he could “grab them by the p*ssy.”
This is our world now. This is what we’re talking about.
So here’s my question: To what degree should a person’s past affect their current and possibly future positions in business or politics?
When should we, as the gathered crowd ready to pass judgement, throw the first stone?
And here’s my opinion, for what it’s worth:
We, as humans beloved by God, should be forgiven for our past sins.
But we, as humans, must also accept the possible ramifications of our actions, even in our ‘distant’ past.
Because while we are forgiven, while our character and ethics can, and should, evolve and group and improve, there is always a consequence.
And when it comes to holding an important position, be it the local school board, or a seat on the bench of the highest court in the land, we must acknowledge that, right or wrong, people are going to dig that up.
I have a past. I’ve done some terrible things. So have you. These things speak about what we are. At least in the eyes of those who might put us in a position of responsibility. Right or wrong, that is the reality of the world we live in.
The more important thing is how do we answer those accusations? What matters about our character NOW is what will we say about our past? Do we deny it? Do we own it? Do we take steps to completely squash our accusers?
My point of view is guided by my faith and beliefs, so I will share my opinion based on that.
And to do that, I’m going to share a bit about my past.
Almost 30 years ago, round about my wife and my 2nd anniversary, thing went completely to sh*t. We had ventured into an attempt at running a mall food-court burger shop. I thought I knew what I was doing, but all I really managed to do was run up a huge amount of debt in a very short time and file bankruptcy. It was truly a disaster.
Out of desperation, I accepted what I believed to be an honest job opportunity from friends in Arizona (we lived in Nebraska at the time). So I left my wife and toddler daughter and got on a Greyhound bus and went to Phoenix. With no money and no place to live, the plan was that I live with our friends there until I got settled in my position and was able to find a place to live of our own.
I’ll spare you the details, but the job never existed. I took a crappy minimum wage position at a pizza place because that was all I could find. I was lonely, miserable, depressed, and broke.
I tell you that not as an excuse for what happened next, but just as background.
Our friends, a husband and wife couple, were very generous. He was the co-manager of an apartment building, but also did some work for his brother. He was never home except very late at night. Leaving she and I alone. Almost all the time.
I was lonely. She was lonely.
Again, not an excuse. And I can’t seem to bring myself to out-right say it. Even though it’s been decades and it’s far behind us and we went through a long period of marital counseling and I know I’ve been forgiven, the guilt of it is still very real. So I can’t say it. But you can infer from this that I did a terrible thing.
I am forgiven. It is in the past. It’s behind me. As some in the Christian community like to say, it’s “under the blood of Christ” because he died for my sins and I’m forgiven by God. (there are about a hundred things wrong, theologically, with that statement, but that’s for another post.)
People like to say “forgive and forget”. God might answer “what sin?” if He and I were to talk about this.
But we also live in a real world with real people and real actions have real consequences even if they are in our far past.
And if I were to run for office, it would come up. As it should. It speaks to the character of the person I was.
But my job, now, would be to speak as the character of the person I am NOW.
To deny my past, to claim it didn’t happen or that it has nothing to do with my life today, would be ridiculously insincere and false.
If I claim to be a Christian, what is my responsibility for what has happened in the past?
I need to own it.
To do otherwise is to bear false witness.
If someone were to challenge my position as the ‘leader’ of this ‘ministry’ called Christianity Without The Insanity because of my past sins, claiming it makes me unworthy to lead, I would only make it infinitely worse by claiming it never happened, or that I don’t remember. What would that make me in the eyes of my followers? A fake. A phony.
(Now we could get into the whole discussion of how I feel I don’t really ‘lead’ CWOTI, I don’t, it’s a community and I’m just part of it, but that’s off on another tangent.)
To be ‘real’, to be ‘sincere’, to be ‘human’, to be a follower of Christ, I am compelled to acknowledge the past. And while I believe I am forgiven by God and my family, I must also accept the consequences of the choices of those around me.
And such is the state of our politics in this country at this time.
Kavanaugh, Ellison, Trump, and whomever else we are talking about, are we looking at people who are being sincere about their past? Are they owning the actions of their past selves and making a case for their current selves? Or are they dodging? Distracting? Are they sincere? Or slimy?
This rant isn’t really about making a conclusion. It’s about how should we go forward.
I never really spoke about the accusers. In my opinion, that isn’t the point here. By default I believe that those that claim to be a victim should automatically be believed. At the same time we have the legal concept of “innocent until proven guilty”. Those two things are not incompatible. If I accuse my neighbor of stealing my ladder, he will either have the ladder or not. Until it’s proven that my ladder is in his possession, he’s innocent. My claim is neither true or false, it just IS. Until it’s investigated we can’t know.
And that’s how we should proceed. Believe the accusers insofar as we actually hear them out and investigate their claims. And the accused should cooperate with that action.
If someone were to accuse me of the thing I admitted to above, an investigation wouldn’t turn up any evidence. Except the testimony of one or two people. It would be up to a judge or jury to decide what is true or not. (Except in my case I would own it.)
I’m all over the place here. I’m not going to edit this. My brain is going a mile a minute. I’m angry and frustrated and disgusted by the whole situation playing out on our national stage.
Just own it. Own your past. It’s part of you even if you’ve been forgiven. It’s what has brought you to the place you are now. Own it, accept it, and accept the consequences of your poor choices.
That’s it. That’s all. Rant over. Carry on.