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Integrity or Loyalty?

by on August 26, 2015


Integrity or Loyalty – Which will it be? What is the difference? Does it matter? It matters. Integrity and loyalty are vastly different.

First, a disclaimer – Loyalty is not necessarily wrong and evil. Loyalty can be good and useful if it follows and supports integrity and fidelity. It is important to be loyal to a spouse or to a personal commitment that you have made. That is a good use of loyalty. In marriage, loyalty to spouse trumps all other affections. But, even there, loyalty follows and supports integrity fidelity.

Loyalty dare not stand alone. When it does, it is destructive. If you are loyal to a friend no-matter-what, you will make wrong choices. You will typically defend the friend no matter what he/she does, right or wrong. That violates integrity.

Integrity, on the other hand, is doing and living what is right at all times. It is uncompromising. It is teaching and defending the truth and right. It is refusing to be loyal to anything that is wrong. It stands unflinchingly for truth and righteousness.

A major change in society
There has been an unfortunate move in society – the move from integrity to loyalty – mostly in the last 100 years. It is even impacting many churches from very conservative to liberal. In many churches loyalty is now demanded – You are guilty if you are not loyal. In a system based on loyalty, disloyalty becomes the greatest sin.

That is not a surprise. Disloyalty was the charge against Jeremiah – “he speaks against this city (Jerusalem)” Jer.26:8-11. Was Jeremiah disloyal? He told the truth as God told him to say it. Is that disloyal? Apparently so in the eyes of the leaders. Because of his apparent disloyalty, the leaders said that he must die. Jeremiah was not disloyal. Telling the truth is not disloyalty. Jeremiah faced that charge several times in his life.

Ideology is the basis of loyalty
Ideology is a set of accepted beliefs based on political ideas. Those ideas are built into a structure by people who believe or hope to benefit from the ideas. The ideology replaces truth and then truth is lost because the ideas are seen as more valuable than the truth. As long as truth is primary, we can depend on truth to defend us.

When ideology becomes primary, truth is lost and loyalty trumps integrity. The Catholic Church experienced this. When they could not defend their system with truth, they switched to dogma. ‘It is not true because the Bible teaches it. It is true because the church says so.’

Ideology takes over when truth is lost. Ideology demands loyalty. That is what makes the loyalty system function. Loyalty to a system of ideology is what promotes the ideology and truth is lost.

Loyalty creates impressive structures
Loyalty is typically a system created by well-meaning people
Loyalty produces a very impressive appearance
Loyalty creates a culture of compliance and defensiveness
Loyalty pressures people into compliance
Loyalty suppresses and destroys truth
Loyalty quiets the dissenting voices.
Loyalty demands support of its agendas
Loyalty destroys discernment
Loyalty demands control and compliance
Loyalty means that agendas focus on unquestioned allegiance to a system
Loyalty creates internal conflicts that are eventually resolved to defend the system
Loyalty produces an allegiance that eventually becomes the “truth”
Loyalty places politicians in charge and leaves people in confusion
Loyalty creates a “not on my watch” mentality among leaders.
Loyalty creates polarization
Loyalty masquerades as submission
Loyalty is an inadequate basis for life and ministry

People are guilty, not based on a lack of integrity, but on a lack of conformity and loyalty to the system.

The motive of a loyalty system is to create a uniform society by making the people controllable. The motive may be noble but the methods are subversive and the result is bondage. Without the tribal markers of inclusion and/or exclusion these ideas could not survive. Arbitrary and artificial and untrue practices are now defended as the “way we have always done it.”

A loyalty system is very resistant to anyone who would challenge the ideology.
An integrity system, on the other hand, welcomes all who will love and identify with truth.

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