Thoughts on Kingdom, Church, and Grace from an American living in Hong Kong

Saturday, June 27, 2009

My thoughts on Mark Sanford

There is at least one person who is benefiting from the sudden death of Michael Jackson. The passing of the pop icon effectively knocked the peccadilloes of South Carolina Governor Mark Sanford off the front page which helps him in his attempt to stave off calls for his resignation and keep his job.

I hope it doesn’t…

This week the Governor went missing. His wife didn’t know where he was, nor did the Lt. Governor of the state. Staffers finally revealed that Sanford had gone hiking on the Appalachian Trail to “clear his head”. Turns out that was the least of um…ah... what he had cleared.

Governor Sanford had actually traveled, on taxpayer expense, to a rendezvous with his mistress in Argentina. What has really got the blog-o-sphere humming about this story though is the fact that the governor was quoted as saying that people who hold public office should be held to a higher standard and called for then President Clinton’s resignation during his adultery scandal. Thus said, Sanford’s resignation should be a forgone conclusion…but its not.
And that is the essence of his hypocrisy.

Governor Sanford, as a practicing Christian, has now publicly admitted to his failings and has asked his family as well as the people of the State of South Carolina for his forgiveness but he has already attempting to sweep his misdeeds under the rug. He has begun quoting the Bible and talking about the great things David did after his confessed sins with Bathsheba. But if the Governor was really seeking to get right with those who he has disappointed, starting with God, he should not be talking about any great things in his future. Such talk serves only to render any remorse he is attempting to show now as suspect.

The United Kingdom has a much better track record of its politicians doing the right thing when faced with poor decisions. Recently the Speaker of the House of Commons resigned amidst allegations of financial impropriety. In the U.K, asking forgiveness does not translate into keeping your job. Whether former Illinois Governor Rod Blagojevich, Idaho Senator Larry Craig, or New Jersey Governor Jim McGreevey the list of scandal plagued politicians on this side of the pond that cling desperately to their positions seems to grow geometrically.

Some people have taken delight in pointing out the hypocrisy in Governor Sanford’s actions. However much of the ridicule seems to almost exonerate Clinton rather than universally condemn the repugnant behavior of both men. The fact that Sanford did essentially the same actions he accused Clinton of doing should not make the actions of either more palatable. If I rail against alcoholism and then get drunk one night, my actions do not make my condemnation of alcoholism less true.

My disappointment with Sanford does not center on his adultery. As a Christian minister and sometimes even as a friend, I have had to deal with adultery with those around me. Its what ones actions are when faced with it that dictates my response. When someone is broken, contrite and desperately wants to seal the breach with God and spouse, my heart leaps for the joy of a family saved . Other times I have dealt with people that go through a form of sorrow because they know it’s the quickest way of getting back to their place of respectability again. Its pitiful to watch and I feel I’m watching now in South Carolina.

I make no judgments on Governor Sanford but my advice would be to take the high road. Resign your position now and be a man. Spend the next weeks and months working on your family and then, because we serve a God who redeems, renter the public arena a forgiven man with your wife at your side.


Bob said...

Great comments here, Steve. I have to say that I have been most impressed with Sanford's wife. Rather than stand beside him like we have seen past spouses do, she is exercising some tough love and letting him face the music. OF course it doesn't hurt that she's brilliant and a millionaire in her own right.

While he did apologize, he has not expressed a great deal of remorse about the relationship he obviously still has with the lady in Argentina and is obviously still very much in love with him.

Can he actually be compared with King David, a man after God's own heart? Not for us to say but it's hard for me to see much similarity. For him to even bring that up shows a lack of humility in my view.

Bob said...

correction: still very much in love with HER.

petite-bunni said...

"Can he actually be compared with King David, a man after God's own heart? Not for us to say but it's hard for me to see much similarity. For him to even bring that up shows a lack of humility in my view."

I ditto that.