What kind of conduct should we expect from our leaders? Evolutionist Richard Dawkins has argued that their private lives belong to them alone and that they have every right to protect them, even with lies:
- Bill Clinton was impeached not for sexual misconduct but for lying about it. But he was entitled to lie about his private life: one could even make a case that he had a positive duty to do so.
Just yesterday, nude photos of England’s Prince Harry in the embrace of a nude woman were leaked to the press. The BBC writes:
- Prince Harry was on a private break from his military duties when the pictures were taken. Pictures showing Prince Harry and a young woman naked in a Las Vegas hotel room have been published on a US website. The two photos of the 27-year-old royal, published on gossip website TMZ, were taken on a private break with friends over the weekend. The site reported that the prince was in a group playing "strip billiards"
The media has raised several issues. Perhaps the first is the privacy issue. The media argues that Harry has a right to his private life.
The second issue is the one of judgment or decorum. It seems that Harry has had a long history of doing and saying things unfit of royalty. In one prank, he donned a Nazi uniform. He has also been accused of “underage drinking and drug abuse.” In general, he has a reputation as a “partier.” In this instance, he and his handlers have been faulted for not confiscating cell phones before the nudity began. Some in the media have responded, “Good for him! He deserves to have a bit of fun!”
However, I think that there is a much more significant question at stake. “Who is Prince Harry and what governs his life?” Is it possible to separate his private from his public life? What if thoughts of sex, drugs and rock and roll govern his life? What if, as he is addressing the people of England through a national crisis, he is thinking about bedding-down the women before him?
If you are not a theist, you will probably even be incensed by this question? You’ll think what right do I have to insinuate that Harry would have these sexual thoughts when addressing the nation?
Well, I don’t mean to pick on Harry or anyone else. I just want to explore this idea that it doesn’t matter who we are in our private lives. I just want to ask if there is anything inconsistent about President Clinton talking on the phone about public policy issues as Monica Lewinsky was ministering to his manly desires. Can we separate public from private life?
You will probably answer that this is an extreme and isolated example and doesn’t shed much light on the issue of public and private. You might also respond that many American presidents have ably conducted their presidency as they were having an adulterous affirm, sometimes even several of them.
Granted, this is a difficult issue to debate. Perhaps Roosevelt ably fulfilled his role as president as he was having an affair. However, it could be just as easily argued that he could have fulfilled it even better had he not had the affair.
Certainly, we can make this case in regards to Bill Clinton. The disclosure of his affirm not only crippled his family but also his presidency. However, Richard Dawkins would argue that adultery – his private life – wasn’t the problem but rather his failure to adequately cover it up.
However, this raises additional problems. For one thing, our private lives can adversely affect our judgment. Roosevelt had made a pledge to his wife to honor and to love until death separates. However, he failed to live up to his pledge. Is there any relationship between his not keeping his pledge to his wife and failing to keep his presidential pledge? If he proved himself untrustworthy to his wife, why should he be trustworthy in regards to the presidency? The public person is a reflection of the private person.
Besides, it is hard to exercise proper judgment if we are busy contorting our mind to justify permissiveness. Perhaps, as a result, Roosevelt had been overly permissive with Joseph Stalin, against the warnings of Churchill, allowing Stalin to grab Eastern Europe?
You might think that this is a leap of logic - and perhaps it is - but it is patently obvious that our judgments and philosophy fall in line with our lives. In other words, our private lives cannot be segregated from who we are and what we think.
Another problem with this “cover-up” philosophy is simply that what is covered-up will eventually be exposed, sometimes with terrible consequences.
Lastly, to lead effectively is to inspire trust. To inspire trust requires the leader to be trustworthy. He has to be able to convince his people that he has their best interests in mind and not his next sexual encounter. Our life-script must be centered on one motivation or another, as Jesus warned:
- But if your eyes are bad, your whole body will be full of darkness. If then the light within you is darkness, how great is that darkness! No one can serve two masters. Either he will hate the one and love the other, or he will be devoted to the one and despise the other. You cannot serve both God and Money. (Matthew 6:23-24)
We cannot serve our sexual appetite and other people equally. One vision must predominate. Jesus also suggests that as we focus our eyes on the wrong things, we will think the wrong things. We will be “full of darkness.” There is no way that we can separate our hidden motives from the rest of our lives. These motives will color everything else.
This doesn’t mean that Prince Harry can never be an adequate leader. However, as long as partying trumps service, service to his nation must suffer as a result.