Rush-ing to Judgment?

Rush Limbaugh’s announcement Friday that he is addicted to prescription painkillers came as no real surprise to me. When I heard him the week before announce that he would not comment on the situation until he knew what exactly he was facing, it was not difficult to put two and two together. After all, if the allegations were totally untrue, why not deny it?

Though Rush’s confession wasn’t a surprise, it still a disappointment. I remember when my grandfather first turned me on to Limbaugh’s program back in the late 1980’s/early 1990’s. The things he said really resonated with me and had a large impact on the development of my own political philosophy. Rush’s blunt, yet clear statements of truth overshadowed his detractors—who either dismissed him as too simplistic or heaped ad hominem arguments upon him about his arrogance and bravado.

As an evangelical Christian, I can’t make the claim that everything Rush says is right—I have to filter everything through worldview of Scripture. I know little of Limbaugh’s religious beliefs, but I’ve listened to many of his shows and I would bet (if an evangelical is allowed to do that…) that he is not an evangelical Christian. Even so, I usually end up in agreement with most of what he says.

The most difficult part of this is that Rush was the one speaking out against the things that he has himself been caught up in. Drug addicts weren’t his primary focus, but people who were dependent on such things were his primary target. Rush was a hypocrite—his entire argument has been shattered. Or has it?

Rush is certainly, as he said in his statement, no hero for admitting this and taking steps to fight it. In this he is merely doing his duty—heroic acts only happen beyond the call of duty. We don’t know how all this will play out, but for now it seems that Rush has broken the string of hypocrisy. He said, “I am no victim and do not portray myself as such. I take full responsibility for my problem.”

Will Rush’s credibility be hurt by this episode? Certainly. Will the truths that Rush spoke about be hurt? Absolutely not. As Rush takes responsibility for his actions, it appears that he indeed sees that truth always outlasts the man. The nature of truth itself is larger than people who present it.

What Limbaugh has done for American conservatism will stand under this maelstrom for at least two reasons. First, Rush really was right, and people realized it. Look at all the other conservative talk show hosts who have sprung up and done well since Limbaugh’s breakthrough—Sean Hannity is but one example.

Second, the nature of Rush’s offense is nowhere near the magnitude of Bill Clinton’s scandal or the ordeal the Kobe Bryant is now facing. Though it doesn’t excuse him, the addiction did result from initial medical uses. He should have dealt with it long ago, but if he really does take responsibility and change, I think most people (even conservatives) will find this forgivable, although the liberals he so often criticizes will never forgive him—if they can’t successfully attack his views they will surely pounce upon him.

The Bible tells us that we are all sinners—that somewhere, somehow, all of us fall short of God’s standard. Redemption from a drug addiction is what Rush faces—but redemption from sin is something that all of us need. I pray that Rush finds redemption from both through the one ultimate Truth—God’s payment for our sin in the death and resurrection of Jesus Christ. That is a truth that the liberal media, much less the grave, cannot stifle.