An ugly domestic row has served to throw light on a dark place politicians prefer to keep secret.
Our leaders have long argued that they should be judged on their policies – not their private lives.
But the unfortunate exposure of a furious spat between Boris Johnson and his girlfriend Carrie Symonds would seem to have put paid to that.
And it is surely symptomatic of the mess we are in as a country after successive governments have relentlessly undermined the very Judeo-Christian values which hitherto underpinned both the family and the nation.
For all our gung-ho determination to flout every biblical commandment going as we shake our fists at God, it is the One enthroned in heaven who laughs at our extreme folly. (Psalm 2.4)
Yet, despite consistent efforts to protect politicians’ domestic arrangements from scrutiny while insisting we focus on the ‘issues’ (by which is meant the economy, immigration, Brexit etc), the latest saga demonstrates all too clearly that family breakdown is the biggest issue of them all. And we continue to ignore it at our peril.
It should be obvious: if you can’t run your own household, how can you be expected to run the affairs of the nation?
This remains one of the key stipulations for leadership in the Church. And I don’t see why it shouldn’t also apply to those aiming to lead what for centuries has been known and admired as a Christian nation.
The Apostle Paul writes to Timothy: “Now the overseer (bishop) must be above reproach, the husband of but one wife, temperate, self-controlled, respectable, hospitable, able to teach, not given to drunkenness, not violent but gentle, not quarrelsome, not a lover of money. He must manage his own family well and see that his children obey him with proper respect. (If anyone does not know how to manage his own family, how can he take care of God’s church?)”
It is a strange irony to witness the appearance of anarchists outside the beleaguered couple’s flat protesting against them. After all, aren’t anarchists supposed to defy order and authority? So we are apparently left with Hobson’s choice – chaos outside the home, or within it?
But I see hope of restoration amidst this awful impasse. We are all naturally selfish; the problem goes back to the fall of man in the Garden of Eden. But there is also a wider, generational, issue at stake in the case of the couple presently under the spotlight.
The would-be Prime Minister’s dalliance with Miss Symonds, who is 24 years his junior, is evidently the latest in a string of extra-marital affairs. Further, he is not yet divorced from his wife Marina, and his four children are reportedly, and not surprisingly, hugely upset by the breakdown of their 25-year union.
In the case of Boris, we learn that he had “a childhood strained by his father’s relentless infidelities and his mother Charlotte’s breakdown”. Partly as a result of this, it seems, he has an insatiable quest for love that even marriage could not satisfy. According to columnist Dominic Lawson, he loves to be loved and hates to be hated.
In Carrie’s case, she is the child of an extra-marital affair and reportedly the great-granddaughter of former Prime Minister Herbert Asquith, also through an extra-marital liaison.
My point is that there are clear generational characteristics of weaknesses or curses caused by past sin which are likely to continue through the generations unless and until there is an intervention by the only one capable of reversing such a dreadful plague – the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ.
It is in the context of the giving of the Ten Commandments that Moses records God’s commitment to punish “the children for the sin of the fathers to the third and fourth generation of those who hate me”. (Deuteronomy 5.9) And in chapter 23, verse 2, we read of grave consequences for the descendants of illegitimate births! (See also Deut 11.26-28)
Another factor at play here is the likely, and unprecedented, scenario of an incoming resident of No 10 Downing Street sharing the home with someone to whom he is not married.
But as I’ve already indicated, there is a solution – Jesus became a curse for us. Yet only by applying his sacrificial blood to our own hearts can it become efficacious for us, just as the Jews in ancient times had to daub the lintels and doorposts of their homes with the blood of a lamb as a sign for the angel of death to ‘pass over’ them and spare their first-born, paving the way for their freedom from slavery in Egypt.
Boris’s nightmare could pave the way to personal freedom – no longer enslaved by passion and ambition, but at ease with himself and at peace with God.
This in turn will enable him to achieve true success, whether or not as Prime Minister of Great Britain. For in God’s economy, true success is not measured by how much notoriety or possessions we gain, but by how much we have invested in his kingdom. (Matthew 6.19-21)
Whatever our politicians say, the breakdown of family life is the real issue of the day – it is a factor in the exponential rise of knife crime and gang culture, in the acute housing shortage and in the dreadful epidemic of mental illness, especially among the young.
It won’t be fixed while ever we continue to ignore the only ‘rule book’ we can truly trust – the Word of God, otherwise known as the Bible.
Charles Gardner is author of Israel the Chosen, available from Amazon; Peace in Jerusalem, available from olivepresspublisher.com; and A Nation Reborn, available from Christian Publications International