Whether we are talking about respect of one nation for another, or respect of one individual for another, nothing undermines respect more than duplicity – saying one thing and acting differently.
I think it is a big reason why President Obama's recent speech to the nation, where he attempted to explain why he has proposed military action in Syria, fell so flat.
The president cast his rationale for wanting to take action in moral terms. But the very dubious moral record that this president has established, both regarding respecting the sanctity of life and traditional moral principles, seriously undermines his credibility for moral leadership.
He called President Assad's using poisonous gas against "a thousand people – including hundreds of children" a "crime against humanity."
He said "…when, with modest effort and risk, we can stop children from being gassed to death, and thereby make our own children safer in the long run, I believe we should act. That's what makes America different."
But, sadly, under the leadership of this president, America is not different. And this credibility gap badly hurts our country's moral credibility at home and abroad.
Earlier this year, President Obama became the first sitting president to address Planned Parenthood, the largest abortion provider in America.
He concluded his remarks to that group the same way he concluded his address to the nation about Syria the other night – saying "God bless you."
How can a president, who appeals for God's blessing for America's largest abortion provider, possibly be credible in justifying American military force abroad because of moral outrage?
If the use of chemicals to destroy children is what bothers this president, why does it not bother him that a growing percentage of abortions done in our nation are chemically induced abortions using abortion inducing drugs, most common of which is known as RU486, that became legal in 2000?
In 2008, according to a report in the New England Journal of Medicine, 32 percent of the early term abortions performed in Planned Parenthood clinics, for which our president seeks God's blessing, were done using these abortion-inducing drugs.
Abortion inducing drugs are included along with contraception that employers are mandated to provide free to employees under Obamacare.
In June, a bill was introduced in the House of Representatives sponsored by Rep. Trent Franks (R-AZ), with 184 co-sponsors that would make abortion illegal after 20 weeks (5 months).
The legislation is called the Pain-Capable Unborn Child Protection Act.
According to language included in the legislation, "By 8 weeks after fertilization, the unborn child reacts to touch. After 20 weeks, the unborn child reacts to stimuli that would be recognized as painful if applied to an adult human, for example, by recoiling."
The Obama administration wasted no time in issuing a statement noting opposition to this legislation and indicating, "If the president were presented with this legislation, his senior advisors would recommend that he veto this bill."
Perhaps abstract arguments can take place regarding the status of the unborn child in very early stages of pregnancy. But after five months, as the pregnancy enters the third trimester, the living, human status of the unborn child is clear and obvious and it takes a true moral callousness to deny this.
This president not only sits by and allows wanton murder of unborn children. He supports and endorses it using dubious arguments about women's health and "reproductive rights."
The light of liberty cannot shine if it is not fueled by the light of consistent moral principle.
That light has been flickering in recent years and children, born and unborn, have been innocent victims in our own country.
When this is happening at home, how in the world can we expect to exercise moral judgment or command moral credibility and respect abroad?
We can't. And we need to wake up that this is the core problem from which we suffer today.