Let me get this straight: famed actor Alec Baldwin wrote a Huffington Post blog advising disgraced South Carolina Governor Mark Sanford to remain in office and fight the rising voices of condemnation and shame calling for his resignation. These calls come amidst discoveries that the "Christian" governor has engaged in multiple affairs and placed his constituents at risk by disappearing for several days while visiting his Argentinean mistress: sometimes at taxpayer's expense.
Baldwin thinks we should look the other way. Instead of condemning this man who has embarrassed his political party, his church, his family, and constituents, we should embrace this as a teaching moment. "Whatever personal problems that public officials deal with privately, leave them alone. This could happen to anyone, in any state, regardless of party. Why make the voters of South Carolina suffer while Sanford is skewered? If he wants to resign, so be it. If not, let him deal with it in private," argues Baldwin.
Hummm. Somehow, this advice coming from Alec Baldwin causes me to consider the source. Is this the same man, who was caught on tape ranting and raging at his 11-year-old daughter whom he called "a thoughtless little pig"? And, is this the same man who expressed a longing to purchase a Filipino bride by mail? By his high-minded statements, Baldwin clearly believes that adultery among public officials is purely a private matter and is, perhaps, a fringe benefit of holding office.
I am sure that Mr. Baldwin means well. His position highlights the values difference between Hollywood and mainstream Americans, some of whom, expect their elected officials to serve the public good while exhibiting high moral standards. This is especially true if the elected official is a conservative Republican who spent much of his life preaching traditional family values while pointing accusatory fingers at other people. In the case of Governor Sanford, he and Newt Gingrich called for President Clinton's resignation in the wake of the Monica Lewinsky affair.
Sanford is a Southern Baptist, and he like others place their faith in God's abiding grace. The Bible, itself, is pretty hard on hypocrites and Jesus, himself, comes to the rescue of the woman caught in adultery, telling her accusers let he who is without sin cast the first stone. As the story goes, the accusers drop their stones and fall by the wayside. Jesus tells the woman to go and sin no more. Some of us can agree with Governor Sanford that all men are fallen and in need of a savior.
To his credit, Sanford tearfully apologized to the public, and, once caught, confessed his sins to man and, presumably, to God. Now, Governor Sanford needs to go that extra step and remove the stench from his office. It will require more than a simple repayment of taxpayers' money. While defending himself, the Governor made a comparison to the Biblical King David who committed adultery with Bathsheba, and had her husband killed in battle to cover his crime. Nevertheless, David remained a man after God's own heart. The Governor would like us to draw the implication that he did nothing nearly as bad as David.
Consider that King David paid a high public price for his sin. So should Governor Mark Sanford. The Bible warns us that leaders and teachers are called to a higher standard. In Luke 12:48, we are told that to whom much is given, much is required. The actions that are required, now, from Governor Sanford and any Christian caught red-handed are confession, repentance, and, I add, resignation. We can forgive Governor Sanford for his human frailties. We can pray for him. We can wish him well. But, what we cannot condone is another day of his remaining ensconced in the Governor's mansion defended by the likes of Alec Baldwin.