OPINION: by Bill MuehlenbergNews Weekly
No apology after latest outburst from PM Rudd
, October 3, 2009
Here is the scenario: a politician seeks to woo the Christian community to get elected. Once elected, he engages in various actions which are far from Christian. He refuses to apologise for these actions, all the while happily allowing himself to be filmed leaving houses of worship on a regular basis.
I refer of course to Australia's Prime Minister Kevin Rudd. He knew before the last election that he especially had to target evangelical Christians to get into office. So he made a lot of evangelical noises, hoping to win their confidence. The strategy worked, as he went on to win the election.
Since then, he has had an unfortunate record of less than Christian actions. Most recently, he let loose with the "f" word on numerous occasions as he addressed Labor Party members in his office, with women included in the audience. Among other things he said the following to the MPs: "I don't care what you f-ers think!" He then singled out one senator with these words, "You can get f-ed" and "Don't you f-ing understand?".
He is now in New York and was seen on the Sunday morning news leaving a church with his wife, smiling in his angelic fashion, again seeking to convey the image of the mild-mannered nice guy. There is a word for all this. It begins with "h" and ends with "ypocrisy". "Double standards" is another phrase that comes to mind. "Not walking the talk" is another.
Now everyone slips up on occasion. We all lose it once in a while. That is to be human. But those who claim to be Christian do not - or should not - let things stop there. The next obvious step is simply to acknowledge one's wrongs or sins, and ask for forgiveness, both from God and from any offended parties.
That is how one makes progress in the Christian life. It begins with acknowledging your sins, and seeking, with God's help, to get mastery over these problem areas. It does not mean sinless perfection, but it does mean being honest with yourself and with God, confessing your sin, and moving on by his grace.
Rudd had exactly that chance on Sunday, September 20, but he scoffed at it. I witnessed it on a television newscast. When a reporter asked about his outburst, the Prime Minister, with a rather arrogant look on his face, said this: "I make no apology for either the content of my conversation or the robustness with which I expressed my views."
They were robust all right - and they were also quite rude, crude and unnecessary, especially coming from someone who tried to convince the electorate of his great Christian credentials. But, as I say, Christians are still fallen - although forgiven - and they will likely make mistakes, and fall into sin, on a regular basis. But with God's help there should be improvement in such areas.
As mentioned, the first step to turning things around is to acknowledge one's wrongdoing and confess it. God has been offended, and often others have been as well. Rudd certainly offended a holy and pure God, and he certainly offended those he was talking to.
Yet this man seems to see absolutely nothing wrong with what he did, nor apparently can he see any incongruity between these and other outbursts and his Christian profession of faith. His behaviour would make more sense if he never did profess to be a follower of Jesus Christ. But even non-Christians can admit when they are wrong and offer apologies.
Our Prime Minister demanded that the nation apologise to Aboriginals, yet he refuses to do the same for his own obvious offences. So if he thinks his foul-mouthed tirade is nothing to apologise for, then he neither fits the description of one living in civilised society, nor of one claiming to be a disciple of Jesus.
As I said, we all blow it, and often. But, for the believer, there is hope of getting better with God's help. And there is a sure avenue to pursue here: that of repentance and seeking forgiveness. It seems our Prime Minister has become so arrogant and impervious to both civilised and Christian convictions, that he will just happily snub the great majority of Australians.
And, no, this is not a case of majoring in minors. Such outbursts appear to have become a regular feature of the way Rudd operates.
Admitting that he has a problem here and that he might need some help or counselling would be one fruitful way to proceed.
But to arrogantly ignore public concerns, and refuse to even acknowledge any wrongdoing, is a mark of someone who scorns public opinion and, more importantly, of someone who makes a mockery of his God and his profession of faith.Bill Muehlenberg is a commentator on contemporary issues, and lectures on ethics and philosophy. His website CultureWatch is at: www.billmuehlenberg.com