Does Character Matter Anymore? (#614)

Where are the men of noble character? Where is even the hunger in our society to value character over expediency? The political landscape today, including continued charges of men using their power to abuse women for their own amusement, and the brouhaha over the Judge Roy Moore candidacy in Alabama has demonstrated that people care little about character anymore. If you follow the media it seems the defining "values" of our time is power and not character. But maybe this is just the skewed view of media that celebrates the wrong thing.

Podcast Notes:
Wayne's Travel Schedule in early 2018
The latest news from our project in Kenya
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28 Comments

  1. Regarding Roy Moore, apart from the sex allegations, there have been a lot of reprehensible things he’s said and done, while using his faith to bolster certain positions that made him a questionable candidate, in my opinion. Interesting that those things which have happened since the 40-year old sex allegations weren’t made as big a deal of. To me, the allegations say almost as much about the accused as it does the rest of us and the self-righteousness and ideological purity that’s been exposed. So many people walking around shell-shocked, but really, who among us doesn’t have something in our backgrounds, that if exposed to the light of day, might shock or greatly disappoint those around us? I’m not trying to minimize what’s happened to some women (and the men who are guilty should be dealt with appropriately), but it just seems like the reactions of some are not in proportion. We seem to live in a faux outrage culture that blinds us to our own frailties and shortcomings. Maybe that’s the point: get obsessively outraged at someone else’s sin so you don’t need to look at your own.

  2. I’ve been listening for a few years now. I’ve never commented, but I have enjoyed the conversation. I sincerely appreciate the ongoing conversation, and it has contributed to my journey greatly. Brad, as a woman, I beg you to research about the abuse of women before you make the accusation that women have been silent. Women have been SILENCED. You are unwittingly contributing to the abuse, shame, and oppression of women in making that accusation. I say this with the most respect and love I can possibly have. I don’t mean this to say “Shame on you” or “You’re wrong.” I say this because I think you honestly and earnestly seek the truth. And in this case, I feel that this is so important for you to find the truth. Listen to women, read their blogs, listen to their stories, seek out the truth in this. It will take empathy and humility. As a woman who has been abused, and silenced, I truly hope you can find more information that transforms the way you have spoken about these issues.

    • Hi Jessica,
      I’d have to go back and listen to the podcast to remember all the details of what was said, and I will take your admonition to heart… I’m genuinely sorry if there was anything in the way in which I/we discussed this subject that you found hurtful or added to the abuse you have already endured. Obviously, that wasn’t my desire. So forgive me there. But knowing some of these very situations with actual facts and knowledge–I do not think it is accurate to suggest that all the people involved are just victims who have been silenced, with no culpability for their failure to confront what they know to be wrong. I don’t think I was speaking about the direct victims of abuse, but more the community that surrounds the abuser. (At least that was the intent. Forgive me for however it came across differently. I wouldn’t dare to pretend to speak flawlessly or appropriately sensitive to all folks — I’m pretty sure I’m a bit too much like a bull in a china shop sometimes to pretend that.) So, for where it was insensitive, my apologies. That said, I would still stand by my disappointment with how there are far too many people who could say or do something, that don’t.

      Sadly with many in positions of “power”, there are a host of willing accomplices in their entourage that quietly look the other way, fearful that saying anything or confronting something they know to be wrong will result in the loss of their favor, their income, their future, a career, etc… As someone who has been a whistler blower and as a result lost “everything”–I don’t think I am unaware of the dynamics surrounding how power is abused, be it sexual, verbal, financial, etc. That was more the point I was trying to bring into all this. Sorry if that was not clear. There was no desire or intention to put further pain on those who truly are victims of direct assault. I am well aware how painful, overwhelming and debilitating all that can be… But I don’t have the same compassion for those who stand by, or turn a blind eye, when it is within their power to do something, to say something, to stand up and resist an abuser… Could those decisions be incredibly costly to such interferers? – Yes… I’m intimately aware of that. thanks for bringing all this to my attention, and again — my apologies for what came across insensitively.

      • Brad and Jessica. Brad I think what Jessica was talking about was how women are “silenced” it’s not always overt.

        It takes as much character to NOT be silenced as it is to NOT use power to silence someone. Unfortunately in the past women have come out on the losing end of this. With their lives being ruined. I hope what we see now is the
        pendulum swinging. If you read John’s comments above he makes some excellent points. The battle ground is strewn with bodies.

  3. i have for some time struggled with whether followers of christ should be involved with government/politics at all. my view is that there are two kingdoms, the kingdom of god and man’s kingdom, and neither allow for dual citizenship. man’s kingdom uses right-handed power, and god’s kingdom doesn’t. the other issue i have is that being involved with man’s kingdom produces nationalism which leads to an us-versus-them mentality. in god’s kingdom, there is no such category. so, i don’t see any reason why i should see the government as anything more than a distraction in my everyday life. i pay my taxes. i follow their laws, but as a citizen of the kingdom of god i see no need for nationalistic thinking. i respect the opinions of others who disagree with me…i guess i just don’t understand how they justify having a foot in both kingdoms, so to speak.

  4. Kent, I think most of us would agree with your assessment of the contrast between the political world and the kingdom of God. And while that leads some to abandon any influence there entirely, others see it as an opportunity to bring the priorities of God’s kingdom into the relationships and choices of the political domain. It may be a losing cause because of the conflict between left-handed and right-handed power, but I’ve no doubt there are people there to be loved, and the kingdom perspective need not be absent there for whatever impact it might have.

    It may be less about having a foot in both kingdoms than it is being IN that world without being OF that world. But I think history demonstrates that most people who tried to be IN but not OF, eventually become OF that world when they couldn’t resist the trappings of money and power that that kingdom offers.

    This is one of those things we really have to trust to individual conscience. If God directs one away from it and to other things, awesome! And if God directs others to have impact there, that’s great too. We both need to pray for the other in any case.

  5. Good topic..
    —-
    I do not have much respect for any politicians.
    As Wayne wrote, “history demonstrates that the most who tried…
    eventually become OF that world when they couldn’t resist the trapping
    of money and power that kingdom offers.”

  6. Wouldn’t it be awesome if someone in leadership actually was real with us and admitted their failings… owned them and publicly demonstrated an attempt to make up for it with the ‘victim’… and shone the light back on the true perpetrators (the devil, our own fallen nature’s and this worlds broken systems)!

    Oh wait, the media would eat them because we would consume it!

  7. In this podcast, I think Brad was spot on regarding politics and Wayne was spot on regarding relationships. Trump did not choose to run as president on his own. He was approached by the military who knew all the key players in the destruction of our nation. We have never been in a culture war, rather we have been under attack by international agents who have no loyalty to our country and tend to be perverts. The best way to increase a police state is to encourage immorality to justify more totalitarian laws. The culture war is a push back on this stealth attempt to destroy morality by godly people who see this erosion of the nation.

    The Roy Moore election was a trap to document voter fraud by George Soros who owns the voting machines and bused in illegal voters. Soros, the Rothschilds and the Saudi Princes have been key players in destroying our culture. The Saudi princes have all been arrested by the new Saudi king. Indictments have been made against Soros, Clinton, and many others and they await trial.

    The cascade of Hollywood and political sexual exposures along with the massive number of politicians and CEO’s stepping down is because the NSA has copied all the blackmail information and pedophilia activities of these men. They were approached by government patriots and told to step down or have this information made public.

    Is Trump a godly man? Who really is? Few. Can a man of character lead the nation? Yes, after the swamp is drained and I believe God has raised up Trump for such a time as this just as he did Cyrus. Cyrus later came to faith in the living God, and Trump may do so, too.

    • Sorry, Alex, there’s a lot there I’m not buying. I’ve heard this stuff for over 50 years, and it never seems to pan out the way the conspiracy theorists want it to.

    • It certainly does. I actually heard that from someone who worked for an anti-trafficking organization years ago. I’m glad to hear it isn’t true. I stand corrected, and herby withdraw my comments made about such on the podcast. Thanks for the correction.

  8. I understand. There are 10,000 indictments against these war criminals. Trump is not using Mainstream news to get his information out. He is using Twitter and a White House insider has been using alt media to show what is going on. The mainstream news will not share this info because they are part of the stealth coup against our country. This will be known in due time. Skepticism is healthy. Watch the news.

  9. Enjoy your podcast always. You asked for women to express what makes them feel uncomfortable. I can only give my own viewpoint. I was a stay at home mother for years, so my husband says I have been protected or sheltered. I now work full time as a nurse. What always bothered me in the church was pastors or other church leaders who gave too an intensive a hug or a full body hug. I don’t mind a gentle side hug from a man I know well, especially if my husband and I are there together. Being 60 years old and a believer my entire adult life, I was in the church at the time when the wife’s submissive role was greatly emphasized. While this was taught from the pulpit, I had church leaders ask me apart from my husband why my husband was not doing more in the church. It put me in a bad spot and was confusing to me as a young wife. Looking back I feel this was an abuse of power and manipulative. While there was no sexual harassment involved, it may me struggle with a conflict of loyalty and caused me to question my husband’s leadership in my home. I believe it was intentional. There is abuse of power in the church as well as in politics. It can be manifested in different ways. My husband and I do not participate in the organized church and have not for years. There are things I miss about it, but the abuse of power and manipulation are not some of the things I miss. I would love to hear others take on this.

  10. Wayne and Brad, I’m a 60 yr+ woman and this conversation has so many tendrils my mind is exploding! I’ve tried to post a comment several times but had to stop and research/revisit my own frame of reference on several of the issues.
    You have material for years of podcasts from this one topic “Does Character matter anymore”. The issues being faced by the human race is getting so complicated…population increases, wars and rumors of wars, the breakdown of traditional geographical borders, migration waves diluting cultural mores. How does one define “character”? The Roy Moore issue is a great example of a “life boat ethics” exercise. What was the “Right” choice? How would you define the “right choice”? If your personal feelings toward abortion were a defining issue for you because of your life experiences how would you deal with the cognitive dissonance such a choice would create? And the article about sex trafficking and Sporting events? I’m still digesting how to see a “sex worker” and a “migrant farm worker” as having the same “character”? Where does the outcome of our choices start crossing the lines of “good” character? Does someone who slaves in a hot field to put food on our tables have the same character as someone who makes a living exploiting the “sin” in others?? AND When does “sex work” become sin? AND why is prostitution ok but an honest love between 2 same sex God loving, God fearing Christians not Ok?

    SO HERE IS my big question:
    Where does “FORGIVENESS and MERCY” fit into all of this mess? mmm?…) and how about the adultress…Jesus forgave her and told her to sin no more. .. Umm where was the man? How much time has to pass before someone is really “washed” with the blood of Jesus. What about King David??? A man after God’s own heart? I wish you guys would have mentioned this is your podcast because personally I’m conflicted here.

    There is a great article by Jack Wellman, “Why it’s easy to misjudge people”? http://www.patheos.com/blogs/christiancrier/2018/01/03/why-we-almost-always-misjudge-people/
    “…He casts our sins into the ocean …a type of death, but we still love to go fishing for them”..including those of others.” As far as God is concerned our sins are forgotten…but “it’s human nature to try and resurrect the sins of others”.

    How can I believe that God really “loves me”? Wayne your book “He Loves Me” had a huge impact on my life. I’ve given the book out many times but lately the “Yuk meter” is screaming when I listen to you talk about Trump. Not saying you don’t have a right to your opinion and not that you are saying anything false BUT ??? In this country right now there is no kindness, respect for the leaders that God has had a hand in putting in power, when they are treated the way this President has been treated. I know I’m an old lady but really isn’t character about HOW we forgive and how we trust in the promises of God. We see through a glass darkly. The hate that has been spewed around for the past year on a national level is demoralizing. AND the real problem is we are all “justified” in pointing the finger at the other guy and the lack in his character. To focus on one person is microscopic..our political system is in crisis. Bad judgement idiotic schoolboy crap (I hate it) yes but is it worse than looking the other way while drugs are brought into the country or national security protocols are irreverently breached? Washington is a cesspool…and yes it has been corrupted just as religion by money and power. At least Trump had his $$$ going into office.

    I love you guys and this podcast. Keep up the good work. I do apologize for the rambling. You scratched the surface of many many issues. How do we rip the BandAid off and begin to heal?

  11. Wayne… my point on the “yuk meter” is more about HOW do we calibrate our “yuk meters”? I completely understand where you are coming from.

  12. Hi Bev. You’re right, this podcast stirred up a ton of things, and that’s what I love about this conversation. We may in the end see these things differently, as Brad and I do, but talking about them helps clarify our thinking. I love that. I didn’t catch what you meant by comparing prostitutes with immigrant workers. Sorry. There wouldn’t be much except for those women forced into prostitution, which is most whether by being trafficked or by having no other way to feed themselves or their family.

    The forgiveness and mercy questions for leaders who make big mistakes is an interesting question. David did get a pass on some pretty big items, when other kings were roundly condemned by the prophets for their failures. We may have to explore that more some day.

    And about our Yuck Meters. I’m not sure I want to calibrate mine. I want the Holy Spirit to do that. I want to be able to trust that sense of Yuck when he’s steering me away from something, even if I can’t find a good reason to feel yucky about it. And I trust him to show us when we mistake our Yuck Meter for our personal distaste for someone or something. The Spirit is really good at this stuff as we learn to lean into his reality instead of trying to survive on our own.

    • wayne, thank you for your kind response. I was really unsure of commenting. I agree on the “yuk meter” because I feel the HS is working on an individual basis….and I have been toying with the idea that He uses all these individual differences (as in the case of denominations, churched unchurched) for a purpose beyond our limited understanding. Where the boundaries are become the “gray zones” so many expound on in the pulpits. Basically I think (?) He wants us to think! All of these topics kind of get to our understanding of or definition of sin? So maybe you guys can talk about sin sometime. If we do not know what we should pray for sometimes and if we can grieve the Holy Spirit… is that the basis of sin? Do the 10 commandments prohibit homosexuality or is it just wanton fornication or plain old adultery? Where does sexual abuse fall into all this? Slavery?

      BTW In my neighborhood church bible study we are tackling 1 & 2 Timothy :-0 Lucy you have some splanin to do. 🙂 So glad I have the Jesus Lens under my belt pretty sure I won’t be contributing much to the study. I’ve been run out of bible studies before…really just for asking my questions.

      Looking forward to 2018 podcasts. Thanks again.

  13. I am reminded of when a person asked Jesus a question prefaced by “good Teacher”. Jesus response: “Why do you call me good? No one is good except God alone.”

    Is the question of character (good vs bad character) a bit misleading? People will always disappoint. We have character flaws throughout. At some point, the ugly truth about someone’s brokenness will always reveal itself. And then people are surprised(?).

    I find myself a man of good character is certain areas, but not in others. Push the right button and my good character goes out the window. But even in those ares that I think I have good character, I no longer delude myself. Given the right circumstances, those could disappear too. They remain by the grace of God only.

    I am not surprised by all the recent sexual harassment news. But isn’t it the pot calling the kettle black? Years and years of sexual “freedom” and suddenly we find ourselves reaping the whirlwind. What did we expect?

    While I do not approve of the sexual harassment of men, I am astounded that women in the world feel that female empowerment is to flaunt their sexuality and should be allowed to be as provocative as they want. The entertainment industry is filled with it. The church too. That to me is sexual harassment as well, against men who are more visually stimulated than women. Its so easy to cast stones, but not so easy to take responsibility for your own sin.

    We put people on pedestals when they display things we like and admire, not knowing that in their hearts they are as corrupt with self interest as the next person. Then we are surprised and disappointed when they fail. Why? Because the world thinks people are inherently good. Jesus did not entrust himself to anyone because her knew their hearts.

    No man is of good character. It just sometimes appears that way on the surface. Jesus is good, no one else.
    Are we trusting Him or corrupted humanity and their systems?

    • John, I appreciate the points you are making and Wayne’s response. Man has feet of clay and satan is an opportunist. I love the thought of being “transformed” by the love of God/Jesus/Holy Spirit and I cling to that hope. BUT I see so many people who are constantly struggling. ?backsliding? I think your point is well taken that we cannot know how corrupted ours or another’s hearts can be and it’s human nature. When satan confronted Jesus in the desert I think he was counting on Jesus’s new “humaness” taking precedence. I like your reminder that “no man is of good character. It just appears that way on the surface” Basically it’s a struggle every day. I have friends battling alcoholism and it’s ugly…but very human. I think in many cases the judgement of “good character” says more about the person making that call. Maybe we have to wait until a person’s life is complete i. e. dead to make that call.

    • John L: You touched on something that is really key. We naively assume that we can become a ‘good judge of character’, or, for that matter, that we can assess what is goodness. That’s the problem with the knowledge of good and evil. But true goodness and character exist at an inner depth that is unobservable to us. Like you said, “It just sometimes appears that way on the surface.” And that’s what we trust — the evidence of what we observe. Eventually, the untruth of what we observe gets exposed, so we retreat into denial.

      It amazes me how much apparent goodness can come out of a wicked heart. “The heart is deceitful above all things, and desperately wicked: who can know it?” I think I know my own heart, and the hearts of those around me, until a motive or agenda gets exposed. But “no one is good except God alone” or, goodness is not goodness unless God is producing it, or, true goodness comes into our world only through a heart that God is transforming. (or, of course, directly from him) True goodness is not about the act, or what it looks like, but is rather about the source of it; Who it comes from.

      Throughout my life I have trusted a form of goodness that let me down over and over again (including ‘goodness’ in myself) that turned out to be counterfeit. Yet I did not know a way to STOP trusting it. Now I see that this treadmill is part of what I am being saved from.

      We cannot discern the source of goodness without being present with God himself. He is the vine, we are the branches. He alone bears the fruit. Any time I try to bear the fruit, or any time I try to generate character or goodness, or any time I try to help God out, I get Ishmael, and miss the promise I am heir to. The promise is his righteousness, his fruit, not mine. Being present with him is what gives me what it takes to let go of my own attempt to create character or goodness or fruit.

      That’s why I say it has to start with me. My old ways still manifest, unconsciously or by habit, that counterfeit junk from my old heart that looks pretty good. I desperately need him to expose my heart, and become my “social validation feedback loop.” I need to be close enough to him to let him define me. He is the only source of true goodness, and he is also the source of the true me. That is something that only he can be. Both for me personally, but also for the whole world.

  14. John L, I love what you’re thinking through here. We all make mistakes and in certain situations respond to our baser instinct. But when I talk about “good character” I’m not talking about perfection, but the overwhelming trajectory of a life. Does it tend toward honesty and integrity, or cutting corners, lying, and using people for our own gain. We all make mistakes certainly, but a person of noble character can own those mistakes, seek forgiveness, and offer restitution to make things right. I’ve met a lot of people in my life that I would say have honorable character and others who have an ongoing reputation for cheating and defrauding people whenever it suits them. God loves both, forgives both, but it is transformed character, to me, that presents the most compelling presentation of the Gospel. We are not JUST forgiven, we are also to be transformed so that we increasingly display God’s character by the way we live. Or at least that is my hope and passion.

    • Thanks Wayne for your response.

      Could it be that we need to differentiate between the flesh and the Spirit when it comes to character? In the world, good character is a observation made by humans who look only on the outside. In the spiritual realm, Christ says that no one is good except God. God looks at the heart.

      In the transformation of character as a believer, my thinking is that it is not so much that my “flesh” is being changed (as it is always at enmity with God), but it is Christ in me living through me that produces some form of transformation. The transformation I am experiencing is not the “flesh” improving but an increase of the Spirit moving in me. It is not my character being displayed but His character through me.

      Maybe this is semantics. But I recently began to understand more fully the difference between living in the flesh and in the Spirit. I have come to understand that there is still part of me (the flesh) that voices its opinion, and that opinion is always anti-God. It is the sin crouching at the door, it is what Paul calls “the things I do not want to do”. And this part of me is NOT “saveable” or “transformable”. “Change” happens as we move away from fleshly decisions to Godly ones with the help of the Spirit of God.

      I am finding that as I journey on in my faith, there is an increasing dependence on the work of Christ as I become more fully aware of how desperate my need for Him actually is. This is a good thing: a decreasing dependence on my “fleshly” ability to do right and an increasing dependence on Him to work in me to will and to do. In other words, as I mature, I actually begin to further realize that without Him, without His Spirit at work in me, there is little to nothing that merits being called “of good character”. I cannot take credit for anything!

      This does not mean that I am not worthy of His love, as discussed in your Lifestream blog. We are worthy of His love because we are His creation. We are loved, because God cannot help but love. Daily, I embrace this gift that He has given. I am not happy that I am not perfect (my flesh), but I am overjoyed with the fact that He knows that and loves me anyway,. And He has provided a solution that allows me to be in His presence. In spite of the imperfection in the flesh, I am perfect in Christ who is the perfect one with perfect character.

      I find I prefer to look at Him than how I am doing at my own “transformation” as up and down as it is. If people see good in me, it is because it is Christ doing something in me.

      Anyway, I have not figured it all out. LOL. But the less I look at my inability and the more at His ability, there seems to be a greater peace in me, and that makes me less anxious, and thereby easier to live with … so my wife and friends tell me. 🙂

      • Hey, John L. I didn’t see your response to Wayne until after I submitted the comment above. Your comments are profound to me. If I’m reading it right, I think you are saying the same thing as me.

        I agree that the real conflict is flesh vs spirit (or heart). True goodness and character are of the spirit, and can only be generated by God, deep in our insides. All the counterfeits exist on the outward fleshly level, and never go deeper than that. The most difficulty is in allowing the genuine to emerge through that bulletproof exterior.

        That’s part of the problem that the flesh presents. My flesh is the part of me that I have come to trust above anything else. The flesh, to me, is my ways, my processes, and my mindset, including the way I think and decide. As you said, “this part of me is NOT “saveable” or “transformable”.” With Love and time, my flesh is being untangled. By knowing I am loved, and learning to trust Someone else, I can surrender control of my ways, my processes, my mindset and my decisions.

        I’m also learning to trust my new heart instead, and the Source of Life that dwells there. I am learning to live from my heart instead of my head. While I am experiencing a heart transplant, my mind is being healed. Wasn’t that the original promise — new heart, renewed mind. This is the “increasing dependence on Him to work in me.”

        While I cannot assess my own spiritual progress, I have noticed that my old aggressive and arrogant nature is beginning to fade. My old motivations are much weaker, being displaced by others, like heartfelt compassion.

        One other comment. You said, “He has provided a solution that allows me to be in His presence.” His presence is imperative, because it is the very present Presence of God that transforms everything in us. His promise to Abraham was, “Walk in My Presence, [be present with Me] and I will [do everything else]!” That includes making the new abundance of my new heart bloom into the world.

  15. Hi Wayne and Brad,
    I am only about 20 minutes into this podcast (have to break it up into my work commutes), but I thought you both might enjoy listening to some of Brene Brown’s talks on YouTube, if you have the time. Wayne- she has a lot to say about shame verses guilt. Brad- when you said there are no noble hero’s on the stage, I knew you would appreciate Brene. Anyway, that’s all I have to say for now, except I hope to catch you in a Texas, Wayne, if you end up around my area.
    -Amy B.

    • Hi Amy. We know Brene very well, in fact we’ve done some podcasts on her Ted Talks and books. But to clarify we were talking about the political stage in Washington, DC, and the pulpits of those who claim to be prophets, not that there are some genuine people writing and speaking to this country. Sorry, if that wasn’t clear. Hope to see you in Texas, Amy.

  16. Wayne & Brad,

    As always, wish I could sit with coffee and have this conversation with you both. Here is my question: What is your definition of character? Because what I hear, is that is an expectation of someone. In this instance, a political leader in our country. But, we could take it further to just the everyday man and woman. The problem I have with the entire movement in this discussion is obviously it is absolutely wrong that any person sexually harass another person. That being said, why aren’t we talking about how to cope with the fact someone has done something wrong to you? Why do we expect people to NOT sin? I chose to live in the reality that I am capable of any sin. That means everyone is capable of any sin. So, instead of living in the realm of being shocked with someone sins, I live in the world of “we have all fallen short, Jesus how do I show this person love?” Why do we expect people in power to not sin? That includes pastors. Or is it that some sin isn’t as “bad” as others? Talking about grabbing women isn’t as bad as raping? According to scripture, all sin is equal. I am not the judge, but the Judge does live inside of me. He is often reminding me that in His Kingdom, there is Grace. I think character is the Hope that someone acts on what Jesus is telling them to, but realizing they will probably not meet our expectations.

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