When leaders of our nation make big mistakes, choosing the bad over the good, it’s up to parents to figure out the best way to explain the situation to our kids.
Unfortunately it seems that we have been forced to step up more often lately, as politicians continually violate basic moral principles of honesty and trust.
As sleazy as some politicians may be, however, there is always a lesson to be taught, and in the case of Representative Anthony Weiner (D-N.Y.), lying about a bad choice is at the top of the list.
As kids, we always heard mantras about lying: “Liar, liar pants on fire!” or “Remember the boy who cried wolf?” I will be reinforcing the principle to my own children that not only is lying morally wrong, it also creates new problems.
As Christians, following the basic moral foundations of the Ten Commandments that is at the heart of what we teach our children, but it’s also at the heart of our great nation.
Regardless of what the president may sometimes seem to think, our nation was founded on Judeo-Christian principles and teachings. When people start making up their own morality, their own rules, or worse, believe as if none of it applies to them, then there are sure to be cracks in the foundation. In fact, John Adams wisely pointed out that “our Constitution was made only for a moral and religious people. It is wholly inadequate to the government of any other.”
Lying is detrimental to any kind of trust formed in relationships — in Anthony Weiner’s case, it was the trust between himself and his wife, between himself and his political party, and between himself and his constituents. (And by the way, his wife is the biggest victim here.) Coming up with excuse after excuse after excuse for not only a few days, but for over a week, has done serious damage to what is left of his character.
Trust is crucial to making relationships work and thrive. If there is no trust between two people, or between leaders and the people, what’s left?
In this case, why should anyone believe what Anthony Weiner is saying about anything? While he stated that he is sorry and admitted that he made mistakes, I imagine the trust most people had in him has vanished.
When I was growing up and made mistakes and attempted to lie about them, my parents caught on right away. I was sufficiently punished and faced the consequences -- even though I was sorry I had lied.
So far, that’s the part that makes this teachable moment about Rep. Weiner less than ideal. Although he has done real damage to his relationships and he can cry and admit his guilt all he wants to what are the other consequences of his actions? As of now, he has done his best to hold on to his seat in Congress after disgracing himself.
There is more to this teachable moment, however. And it is this: Lying is a vicious cycle as Rep. Weiner has so vividly demonstrated. Once it was revealed that a lewd photo was sent to a college co-ed from his Twitter account, Weiner tried to delete the evidence.
Then he came up with a new excuse every day.
First he said his account was hacked... Then it was just a "prank." Then he didn’t know if the photo was really of him.
He ended up telling lie after lie after lie.
Once someone lies to cover up a mistake, in this case several mistakes, it’s hard to stop. Lying about one thing will inevitably lead to being dishonest about something else and so on.
It doesn’t end until the truth finally comes out, and it always will.
It’s unfortunate that our nation’s leaders engage in immoral acts on a regular basis and then attempt to cover them up with all sorts of lies and fabrications.
But, as parents, although the actions themselves may be embarrassing, the teachable moments are there, and it’s crucial to take advantage of them.
The actions of Congressman Weiner, and others in similar situations, are unacceptable. Hopefully this is the lesson we will all be passing along to our children.
Penny Nance is CEO of Concerned Women for America.
Penny Young Nance is president and CEO of Concerned Women for America, the nation’s largest women’s public policy organization. She is the author of the book "Feisty and Feminine: A Rallying Cry for Conservative Women" (Zondervan 2016).