Georgetown Law student Sandra Fluke testified before the House Democratic Steering and Policy Committee on February 23. In her comments she supported the Obama Administration’s mandate that religiously-affiliated institutions must provide funding for contraception. That mandate has since been modified, but is still controversial.
Even more controversial is the firestorm set off by Rush Limbaugh six days after Ms. Fluke’s testimony. The talk show host made comments about her that are still headlining the news this morning. I will not repeat them here, as they are highly pejorative and sexually suggestive. Rick Santorum called them “absurd”, while Mitt Romney said, “it’s not the language I would have used.” House minority leader Eric Cantor described them as “insulting”.
After defending his statements for several days, Limbaugh apologized for them over the weekend, saying his “choice of words was not the best, and in the attempt to be humorous, I created a national stir.” Despite his apology, a seventh advertiser has now pulled its ads from his show. Yesterday, Ron Paul said of Limbaugh’s apology, “He’s doing it because some people were taking their advertisements off of his program. It was his bottom line he was concerned about. I don’t think he’s very apologetic.”
I don’t know if Rush Limbaugh was sincere or not, but I do know that my words and my attitudes are sometimes not the same. This convicting fact was made clear to me over the weekend as I read Stanley Grenz’s masterful work on Christian ethics, The Moral Quest. Grenz makes this statement: “Jesus knew that inward piety and not outward conformity to the law marks true obedience to God, because God’s intent focused on establishing right relationships.”
When I read that assertion, a simple but significant insight struck me: I can act holy without being holy, but I cannot be holy without acting holy. God wants my internal life to be godly because it is the source of all external actions. By contrast, Satan tempts me in my thoughts and attitudes because he knows that such sins will inevitably reveal themselves in my actions and witness. This fact explains Jesus’ consistent emphasis on internal godliness–anger is as sinful as murder (Matthew 5:22) and lust is adultery (v. 28; see Mark 7:21-23). Our culture measures spirituality by our actions; Jesus measures it by our attitudes.
How do we do the right thing for the right reason today? Before Israel entered their Promised Land, Moses told them, “When you go to war against your enemies and see horses and chariots and an army greater than yours, do not be afraid of them, because the Lord your God, who brought you up out of Egypt, will be with you” (Deuteronomy 20:1). If we want what is right, no matter the cost, God will help us do what is right. So I’m praying for a godly heart this morning, in the confidence that godly actions will follow. Will you join me?