Things I’ve Learned from Bill Clinton

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I know that a good conservative Christian is supposed to view Bill Clinton as the Beast (you know, the whole 666 guy) or possibly Satan himself. Okay, maybe that is a little extreme; but you do have to admit that when he was president, the man was vilified in most Christian media. He could do nothing right and everything he did was going to bring about the downfall of Western civilization.

But it turns out that the United States of America survived not one but two terms of Bill Clinton’s presidency, and to be honest, I sort of miss him. Although I agreed with almost none of his policies, thought he was a philanderer I still liked the guy.

I still like him. He is a likeable guy. He is the kind of guy that you want to chat with while your barbecuing, the kind of guy who tells the best stories ever, the kind of guy you wouldn’t trust alone with your wife but love to spend time with at a pub or on the golf course. 

For the past month or so, I’ve been slowly working my way through President Clinton’s memoirs, My Life. It is a lot of material, and I am listening to it rather than reading it so I get his life in small doses. I am only up to 1978 when he was elected attorney general of Arkansas, but I have already learned more about how liberal politics work and the reasons the nation turned to him in 1992. More importantly, I’ve learned some vital spiritual lessons.

  • Your view of a father really does affect how you view God. President Clinton lost his dad when he was a kid, then lost the man he called ‘Daddy’ when he was in college and then lost his third father figure while he was still in his twenties. This affected the way he embraced life, the ways he felt about God and religion and his view of the family.
  • Being a Christian is not restricted to one political view. I have no doubt that President Clinton have a sincere faith that is reposed in Christ and the Bible. I think the context of his life molded his personality and politics, and I definitely believe that he has failed morally many times but I cannot help but believe that he (and many other political liberals) are sincere believers who have different opinions.
  • Ignorance breeds hatred. I can’t tell you the name of a single conservative Christian who has done anymore than a cursory survey of President Clinton’s life. He was hated out of ignorance. We treated him exactly the way we hate being treated.
  • God gives a nation the leaders they deserve. This is not a wildly popular notion, but it is true. President Clinton was, in my opinion, the only kind of president the USA would have elected in 1992 because he reflected our values as a nation at that time. The same can be said for George W. Bush and Barack Obama. We don’t like to admit it, but the people elect the president they want and not the president they need. God lets us have what we want often.
  • The man in the White House doesn’t change Jesus’ vision one bit. Bill Clinton was a heck of a better guy than Caligula, Nero or Constantine I. He never ordered mass conversions of people on threat of death. But even if he had been as bad as them, it would not change what Jesus is doing one bit. His church keeps moving on, and his kingdom is undaunted.
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