Someone (else) to blame

Daniel Henninger writes about the tendency for congressional ethics reform to be aimed at outsiders in today’s Wall Street Journal Opinion Journal. While people get trapped from time to time in these ethics codes, we stil see plenty of unethical behavior going on – plenty of what they call “business as usual” in Washington.

I’m reminded of the rationale some Muslims give for the heavy restrictions on women and women’s dress. Women are by nature tempters, it seems. Innocent men fall for their wiles right and left. So we have to cover them up from head to toe so the poor guileless men won’t succumb to their enticements.

I have no doubt some women practice enticement. But I’m a guy. I know we males are anything but innocent victims of the wiles of women. Too many of us are all too willing to pounce on anything we can rationalize as an “enticement.” As as ordinary sinners, we like to pass the buck when bad stuff happens.  “She made me do it.”

So is scrapping ethics codes (and practices of modesty) the thing to do? I don’t think so. Planning to act ethically is a good thing. Being modest remains a Christian virtue (for women and men). But we need to start with an admission of our own propensity to sin – to give into temptation. Until we learn to take responsibility for our own actions, we’ll never see real ethics reform, whether in Congress, the church, or in our lives.

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