Adultery and Our Politicians

It’s interesting how the media covers all of these adultery scandals involving our politicians.  When a situation arises, like when Republican governor Mark Sanford admits to adultery, the political gamesmanship goes into high gear.  Conservatives in the media downplay it, or they complain that liberals are drawing too much attention to it in comparison to, say, the adultery of Democratic presidential candidate John Edwards.  Liberals in the media make references to hypocritical, fundamentalist Republicans.

It’s almost like the adultery itself is nothing but a prop in a staged political attack.  But we need to not ignore the adultery itself. The effects on the politicians personally are pretty big.  Their careers are threatened and their political parties get some bad press.  Supporters feel compelled to say illogical things like “private behavior doesn’t matter.”  Really?  If a politician is willing to break a promise to his spouse and to God, how comfortable should the public feel about his character when it comes to public interests?  And what about the impact on the children?  Not only is it disappointing and disillusioning, but what does it do to their attitudes towards their own future attitudes regarding love and marriage?

There’s another issue here that also bears analysis.  There is a temptation to respond to charges of religious hypocrisy by lowering one’s religious profile.  If you keep your faith to yourself then it won’t be as embarrassing when you don’t live up to it.  But that is the wrong direction for our politicians to go.  At a wedding–where you stand up in a church and declare in front of God and everybody that you will be faithful to the person standing next to you–that’s an exciting time.  And you would do well to see it as an opportunity for accountability.  Embrace your faith and embrace the promise you have made to God.

With God’s help you can be faithful to your spouse.  Without it, you are more vulnerable than you realize.  Certainly Bill Clinton, Larry Craig, John Edwards, Mark Sanford, and all the rest did not mean to damage their political careers and legacies or humiliate themselves and their families.  They gave in to their temptations because, well, they’re sinners.  But so are the rest of us.  We aren’t invulnerable to temptation.  But, again, the answer is not found in mocking religious faith or ignoring it.  The cure is more God, not less.