Whether dealing with poison-tainted grapes, drugs to treat AIDS, or new methods of contraception, U.S. Food and Drug Administration Commissioner Frank E. Young is frequently confronted by tough issues. A trustee at Fourth Presbyterian Church in Bethesda, Maryland, and a newly appointed World Vision board member, Young recently talked with CHRISTIANITY TODAY about his faith and his job.

All the ethical scandals in Washington are prompting many to wonder if something is inherently corrupting about politics.

Some of the problems that Washington produces can lead to corruption because power is very hard to hold and use correctly. But you always have to guard against corruption in any area of potentially high and unaudited power. The issues facing a pastor or university official are no different from those facing a public official: money, sex, greed, and pride. The difference in government is that the opportunity for exposure is much greater than in the private sector. The political process is so intense, people have made a business of finding fault. You deal not only with the concept of wrongdoing, but also the perception of wrongdoing.

How do you deal with the conflicting pressures put on you as a government official?

I go to the third chapter of 1 Kings where Solomon was asking for wisdom to make decisions. He asked for an understanding heart to discern between good and bad. Every day I try to discern between good and bad and to follow through with my perspectives on what belongs to God and what belongs to Caesar. I can’t decide public policy with theology, but I do pray for wisdom.

Have you received criticism from people who are uncomfortable because you don’t leave your faith outside your government door?

My faith has become more ...

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