Nothing is potentially more dangerous to integrity and honor than comradery. That ingratiating wink, that warm pat on the back, that covert look of mutual superiority between two people over others in the room. It thrills the soul. But it can melt the judgment. “I’m an insider!” “I’m one of the few in the know!”
Unless we are careful, our decisions—our voting, our evaluations of moral and civic or personal issues—will be made not on the intrinsic merits of the case but on the basis of friendships and comradery. We have all felt the pull of it. As mothers, some of us remember taking a dim view of the neighborhood child’s bad manners while excusing our own child’s.
In the morally lackluster days of Israel’s judges, the town of Gibeah of the tribe of Benjamin committed an act so unspeakably vile that it finally awakened the moral sensibility of the rest of the nation. The 11 tribes came together from all parts of the land and exhorted the Benjaminites to take care of business, but the Benjaminites refused. They circled their wagons around internal corruption rather than extirpating it:
“‘What is this evil that has taken place among you? Now therefore give up the men, the worthless fellows in Gibeah, that we may put them to death and purge evil from Israel.’ But the Benjaminites would not listen …” (Judges 20:13).
We see it in our own government. Leaders are not necessarily elected because of their wisdom in governing but for visceral and emotional reasons. Legal outcomes are not necessarily determined by true concern for justice but by partisanship—blind loyalty to party, race, union affiliation. C.S. Lewis wrote in The Four Loves:
“Friends are in danger of coming to regard themselves as an élite. … Every reader who has known Friendship will probably feel inclined to deny with some heat that his own circle was ever guilty of such an absurdity. I felt the same. But in such matters it is best not to begin with ourselves. However it may be with us, I think we have all recognized some such tendency in those other circles to which we are the Outsiders.”
Forewarned is forearmed. Let us enjoy our friendships, which are God’s instruments for revealing beauty, but let us fear God and aim for justice like the One for whom there is no favoritism (Romans 2:11).