I’m not going to join the jackals who are gleefully ripping South Carolina Gov. Sanford apart over his confessing to having an extramarital affair. Unlike basically any other politician I’ve ever seen in that position, I think he really feels pretty awful about this, I think he genuinely loves the other woman but knows it’s wrong and hurtful, and in addition, I suspect pretty heavily that he’s having a mental and emotional breakdown (probably related both to the affair, his feelings re: his family and this other woman, and political pressures, like having the South Carolina Supreme Court strike down his stance on the stimulus). Slate had some surprisingly fair coverage, but most of the faux-tolerant talking heads on the left smelled blood.
Rather, I’m just going to say this: the bit he said about sin and God’s law was incredibly profound, and right on. C.S. Lewis argued the same thing in Book III of Mere Christianity (which I was listening to on audiobook last night: if you want the audiobook, and you should, you can get it here). Here’s some of what Sanford said, courtesy of Ann Godlasky at USA Today via Get Religion:
- “It’s not a moral, rigid list of do’s and don’ts just for the heck of do’s and don’ts; it is indeed to protect us from ourselves …”
- “Sin is, in fact, grounded in this notion of ‘what is it that I want’ as opposed to somebody else …”
- “There are moral absolutes, and God’s law is indeed there to protect you from yourself, and there are consequences if you breach that. This press conference is a consequence.”
Lots of sins, like extra-marital sex, seem “victimless.” (It’s all about “luv,” right?) But these seemingly rigid and unneccesary rules make a whole lot of sense when they’re broken.
I’ll say this. Props to Governor Sanford for having his eye on God and not the poll when he finally confronted his sin in such a gut-wrenching manner. And major props to the governor’s wife for working to protect the kids instead of doing the political trophy wife thing to salvage his political career: standing behind him with a fake smile while he talks about another woman. Frankly, I think the biggest reason Sanford didn’t resign today is that he hasn’t even considered his political future yet (which may make him a bad politician, but again, right priorities). We’ll see how this plays out, but when I went from the news reports to watching the actual conference, I was amazed.