Why Christians Bond With Corrupt Leaders

One of my favorite things I do in my professional life is appear once a month on the Holy Post podcast. The podcast was founded by Phil Vischer (creator of the legendary VeggieTales franchise) and Skye Jethani, and my once-per-month appearances are called “French Fridays.” I always enjoy the conversation, but this month’s edition is particularly good, and definitely not because of me. It’s because of Skye. 

We were talking broadly about the Christian community’s persistent connection to corrupt leaders (inspired by this remarkable Vanity Fair profile of Jerry Falwell Jr.), and Skye used a brilliant biblical analogy, one that explains both God’s mercy and our very human tendency and temptation to bond with the wrong people.

The story comes from the book of Numbers, Chapter 20. As a bit of background, the people of Israel, led by Moses, were in a wilderness with no water, and the people were angry at Moses. God then gave Moses explicit instructions: “Speak to the rock while [the people] watch, and it will yield its water.” 

But Moses, angry at the rebellion against him, revised God’s instructions. He gathers the people and says, “Listen, you rebels! Must we bring water out of this rock for you?” Then Moses struck the rock with his staff. 

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