Otherwise, why not let out all those in prison for life sentences or awaiting death penalties…make them priests…if we don’t believe church leaders shouldn’t be held to a higher standard.
It’s a ridiculous observation made to put it another way than you may be thinking. Why isn’t it natural and logical for us to expect those we entrust so much with to set good example?”
I don’t disagree with you when you say that it is natural and logical, etc. It is, indeed, and there’s the rub. We do expect, and in many ways demand of others what we find in ourselves not possible, not worth the effort, beyond our capabilities and so on. We are most on our guard to make excuses for ourselves…all the while believing we do, in fact, meet a “higher standard”, never really acknowledging we fail of the “higher standard” we are quick to convict others for not meeting. That’s a very convoluted way of saying the same thing Christ said of the persons who point out the mote in another’s eye all the while ignoring the great log in their own. It is, not to put too fine a point on it, a kind of hypocrisy, and possibly sinful.
Of course you will argue with me that somehow the office, the position, the responsibility assumed means that only the very best will be chosen, especially if it is some high and holy office. I merely mention Alexander VI as an answer. (ED: Or perhaps Bill Clinton, Gov. Edwards, the Enron officers, Goldman-Sachs and millions of others.)
There is nothing in any position, profession or portion of wealth and prestige which guarantees that the person occupying or bearing it is going to be any better a human being…morally…than the next one. That, R____ ,is a matter of the acceptance of grace and conformity to the will of God, wisdom, prudence and the other gifts of the Holy Spirit. It has little at all to do with out fallen human nature, except that through long practice the person opens himself humbly to accepting the grace of the moment and being humbly grateful for being allowed to be a servant of that same divine will. You will recoil at all of this religious stuff, I think since you are, of course, a business man. And, what, you are entitled to wonder, has the one got to do with the other? Where do humility, doing God’s will, the gifts of the Holy Spirit and all of that enter into the wide, wide world?
I will maintain that some part of every act is a moral act since all we do in some way affects others and the world around us. If God knows the fall of a sparrow, He knows the entry of a number in a ledger, and if He can account for a sparrow’s fall, He will hold us to account for that entry. The office holder, whatever his position, is only prestigious as much as he honestly and humbly tries to do God’s will for him and for the people affected by his office; in that and in that alone consists his “higher standard”.
And, because we are who we are, we will all fail. There were only two perfect human beings, Christ and His mother. They accepted the higher standard offered them. Both of them suffered for it. We know of Christ’s temptations. We don’t know anything of hers, but I am sure she had them. Probably one of them was to rub her eyes and wonder if she was having a bad dream when the angel appeared with the news she was going to get pregnant. However she simply said yes, and didn’t go out and buy a nice dress and tell all the neighbors she was carrying a little bundle of joy.
Now, you mention that clergy volunteer for their positions. That is faulty and incorrect theologically speaking, but quite in line with the business and political model many people want to strap onto the church or fall back into thinking about when they think about the church. It couldn’t be farther from the truth. The men and women who become priests or vowed religious are following a “call” to do that…at least the ones I know. I am well aware of the thousands who have entered those states of old because their parents forced them, it was an easy living, or, recently lamentably, an outlet for their perversions. That does not gainsay that authentically and truthfully one must be called to that state, and formed in it. The abuses which have come to light in the last ten years are there precisely because organically a rottenness was allowed to enter the system. Consider that what is happening is a pruning of the vine; cutting away diseased growth and practice.
I will not answer your last question because I do not think it was seriously meant. A murderer was in fact made an Apostle. You must remember St. Paul.
Finally, we entrust our souls to God’s care, and God has chosen to operate through those whom He has called as His ministers. You must remember Christ’s words about giving the power to bind and to loose to the Apostles. It is this which is the genesis of any respect we may wish to offer to them. But more than that? I might, after some time spent in his company entrust my life to a partner, and I did that when working. But I do not entrust the salvation of my soul to another man. He is incapable of the task by his very nature, though he has been called to help me, as everyone has been called to the same task. Perhaps you could talk to a holy abbot about what it takes to be faithful to that call.
If the truth be known, our clergy aren’t our leaders. They are our servants (actually God’s servants to us in whom they fins the presence of Christ whom they serve first), which is exactly the root meaning of “minister”. It gets very complicated, doesn’t it, since we should receive their service as if it were Christ serving us, humbly and gratefully and with great love and affection…Remember Christ’s commandment about loving one another?
So are those who “serve” in government our servants, and any standard we hold them to should be the standard of faithful servant. So much for presidential power.