As I wrote back in March, first and foremost I am a Christian. My relationship with my Heavenly Father takes precedence over all other relationships, or it is supposed to. The next most important relationship that I have is with my wife. In fact, as I have also written before, I believe that after the relationship we have (or don’t have) with our Creator, the most important relationship in the universe is the bond between husband and wife.
This is why adultery is so tragic. The family, as given to us by our Creator, is the foundation of every social institution the world has ever known. Families form communities, churches, schools, corporations, governments, and so on. Therefore the attack on the family—through divorce, redefinition of marriage, etc.—is devastating in ways that many folks never imagine.
When conservative Christian politicians, pastors, etc. who have stood for and preached biblical family values commit adultery, the consequences are even more devastating. The damage done to their political/professional careers pales in comparison to what is done to those betrayed by their selfish deeds—spouse, children, friends, family, etc. However, the damage done politically bears serious weight as well.
When leading political conservatives, such as Nevada Senator, John Ensign and South Carolina Governor, Mark Sanford, commit adultery, it deals a blow to the conservative brand unlike what happens to the liberal cause when they (John Edwards, Jim McGreevey, Eliot Spitzer, Tim Mahoney, Paul Patton) are caught doing the same.
The mainstream media bias against conservatives notwithstanding, as a liberal blogger recently implied, the use of a politician’s personal life as setting some sort of standard for how they will govern is a conservative’s moral issue, not a liberal’s. Thus, conservatives, especially Christian conservatives, will always be held to a higher standard.
As C.S. Lewis put it, “When we Christians behave badly, or fail to behave well, we are making Christianity unbelievable to the outside world. The wartime (W.W. II) posters told us that Careless Talk cost Lives. It is equally true that Careless Lives cost Talk. Our careless lives set the outer world talking; and we give them grounds for talking in a way that throws doubt on the truth of Christianity itself.” Substitute conservative and conservatism for Christian and Christianity and you get the political equivalent of what Lewis is saying.
Let me say right here that any of us, Christian or not, is capable of adultery (or any other sin). We’ve all made mistakes, or as the Bible teaches, “We’ve all sinned.” In fact, looking at this from a spiritual perspective, I believe that those of us who are Christians have a bit of a larger target on us when it comes to temptation. Therefore, it is incumbent upon us to be vigilant and accountable when dealing with temptation and sin.
If temptation ever becomes sin, one thing always to consider is how the offender responds after the light has shown into his darkness. Is he repentant? Does he properly admit his sin? Is he as King David was after the prophet Nathan chastised him for his adultery with Bathsheba? After Nathan’s rebuke David replied, “I have sinned against the Lord (2 Sam. 12:13).” According to Scripture, as a consequence of his adultery and murder, David’s son born to Bathsheba died. David pleaded with God for his son, but God did not relent and David accepted the dire consequences for his sin.
There will indeed be consequences for Governor Sanford and Senator Ensign, not the least of which will be a significant hit on their political careers. Let us remember to prayerfully lift up these two men and their families. Let us especially pray that God can restore their marriages and bring healing as only He can.