While Paul was looking intently at the council he said, ‘Brothers, up to this day I have lived my life with a clear conscience before God.’ 2Then the high priest Ananias ordered those standing near him to strike him on the mouth. 3At this Paul said to him, ‘God will strike you, you whitewashed wall! Are you sitting there to judge me according to the law, and yet in violation of the law you order me to be struck?’4Those standing nearby said, ‘Do you dare to insult God’s high priest?’5And Paul said, ‘I did not realize, brothers, that he was high priest; for it is written, “You shall not speak evil of a leader of your people.” ’
We have arrived at what has now become an epidemic of incivility towards our public officials of all parties and at all levels. It is exceedingly common now to go on the internet and watch public officials be maligned and made fun of in the most malicious of ways. Supposed humor about the decapitation of our current president is a recent and glaring example, but insulting and abusive speech abounds. It has become now fashionable to speak cruelly and unkindly of our leaders and people on all sides of the political spectrum seem to feel at liberty to do so. It is, I think, a sign of moral decay in our society that people feel the license to speak uncivilly of public officials, but in fact speaking uncivilly is how one now becomes a public official. Sad.
There is no instruction against criticism of policies and even persons. It is necessary that we be able to criticize public officials for the sake of a free democracy. Nevertheless, as the Lesson tells us today, we are not to speak evil of a leader of our people. That means we are not to wish them or their families harm or ill -- no matter how vigorously we might disagree with their policies and take exception to their character.
There are two roads. I wish we'd take the high one. And I wish we'd quit being so entertained by, giving money to, and electing those who take the low.
I may sound like an old man talking here. But passing 40 means I've earned that right. And I want you to know that what I'm saying matters for the sake of the character of our country.