Okay so who among us was really surprised today to hear Gov. Sanford finally admit that he had been engaged in an adulterous liaison with a woman that by his account "he had real feelings for" and who is a "dear, dear friend"?
I for one, was not.
I worked on the House GROC Committee when then Rep. Sanford was a Member of Congress in the Republican Majority. I got to know him fairly well and I liked him. I think he had and still has a bright future in politics. The irony, however, is that while I do not approve of how he handled himself as an elected public official or as a husband, I am empathetic to him and understanding of his frailty as fellow human being.
I think we all should be and here is why: I have been there. And so have many of you.
Particularly some of those of you in the media, who I personally know are some of the worst drinkers, adulterers, and worse. I find the hypocrisy of public life now to be simply ridiculous. When will we all wise up, particularly those who have deemed themselves to be the sanctimonious moral police--only to see this happen time and time again. Speaker Gingrich, President Clinton, Senator Ensign, Senator Vitter, Congressman Livingston, Congressman Burton, Congressman Foley, Senator "foot tap" Craig, Gov. Spitzer, and now Gov. Sanford.
Folks, if we are all honest many of us have been at the same moral crossroads--maybe it wasn't adultery--maybe it was something else. Maybe you were going through a rough patch, coming out of a bad relationship, maybe you had an addiction, or found yourself in the midst of a life storm that you could not quite weather. Maybe you lost your faith, and in that period found someone who was an "island" to your soul--someone who for a moment became your sanctuary. Right or wrong folks it happens because we are but dust.
I know because as I mentioned; I have been there. The greatest personal failing of my life, became my greatest strength and in the abyss I found myself. It's all about choices and how we choose to respond to sin or failings that determines who we will ultimately be in life.
Maybe you didn't cross the line as did Sanford or maybe you did, but as I listened to Sanford make his remarks and look visibly shaken at the damage he had done to his wife and children my heart broke for him, as well as for his family. I also felt for the "other woman" involved because at the end of the day folks if the governor is being truthful, he and this woman started out as friends and that friendship turned into a "spark" and from there they did what many before them and many after them do--they threw good sense and morality out the door. For a moment it was just those two people, lost in each other, "caught up" as the old folk say and they forgot about the consequences that always come when we sin.
Trust me the consequences always come.
But it is here that we all need to buckle up because it is here that we can find our character and our deepest calling in life. Affairs just don't happen folks. They start with deep self dissatisfaction, and deep longing. My guess is that the Sanford marriage was in trouble for sometime. It was just unspoken, I suspect. The good news is that now it is all on the table, and there is no place to hide. My hope is that this man and this woman can forgive, heal, and rediscover one another. My prayer is that four boys will see their dad as a man who made a serious mistake, but who had the character to admit it, and move forward a better man.
I will end by saying that I think Gov. Sanford should not resign as Governor of South Carolina and he should not allow himself to be removed as a candidate for President in 2012. Who among us is without sin? It is time we started acting like a nation of grown up adults--Christians who understand what the Bible truly teaches us about failure and sin.
My favorite biblical hero is David. And I admire David because he triumphed over great personal weakness and failures. We all know the great sin David committed with Bathsheba and we all know that God dealt with him and her severely at first--and we know that the "sword" never departed from David's house as a result of the sin. But, we never talk about what happened after that sin. One of the greatest Psalms; Psalm 51 was written after this failing--David became a better husband, father, servant and King because of his ability to move forward after inflicting great wounds on himself and his family.
My point: Gov. Sanford, don't be a quitter. Don't let the modern day pharisees run you out of politics. You are a human being. You made a terrible mistake--haven't we all. You have confessed your wrong to your wife and it appears that she is willing to give you a "chance to reconcile" the marriage. She is the only person who matters in this other than your boys. I for one wish you well and I hope that you will use this failing to teach others how not to fail. And I hope that you will teach your sons and the rest of us what it is to be a man of humility, character and honor in the midst of great adversity & personal failing.