It’s official. Mark Sanford, formerly disgraced governor of South Carolina who cheated on his wife while claiming to be “hiking the Appalachian Trail”, has been elected to the House of Representatives. Granted, he was not up against a particularly strong challenger in Elizabeth Colbert Busch, but it’s nonetheless impressive given the backlash he had faced.
For many conservatives, it serves as a redemption story in which a leader formerly caught in immorality wipes off the dust and returns to leadership, with a freshly new moral outlook. Liberals, on the other hand, have launched a seemingly endless barrage of criticism, alleging that it demonstrates conservative hypocrisy on “family values.”
Of course, it should be noted that Sanford has never been a vocal social conservative. His big thing was always fiscal conservatism, and his reputation as a “budget hawk.” Thought it’s humorously noteworthy that he traveled to Argentina on taxpayer funds, though I believe he later reimbursed the state.
However, I have heard people claim that he was still the lesser of two evils because of, among the other things, protecting the sanctity of marriage (aka stopping gay marriage). Republicans have been hammering the point nonstop, that gay people getting married turns the institution on its head. And in many cases, Christian beliefs are a primary motivating factor. But divorce and adultery are often not spoken of. But what did Jesus say about it? Here’s what he says in Mark 10:
And he arose from thence, and cometh into the coasts of Judaea by the farther side of Jordan: and the people resort unto him again; and, as he was wont, he taught them again.2 And the Pharisees came to him, and asked him, Is it lawful for a man to put away his wife? tempting him.3 And he answered and said unto them, What did Moses command you?4 And they said, Moses suffered to write a bill of divorcement, and to put her away.5 And Jesus answered and said unto them, For the hardness of your heart he wrote you this precept.6 But from the beginning of the creation God made them male and female.7 For this cause shall a man leave his father and mother, and cleave to his wife;8 And they twain shall be one flesh: so then they are no more twain, but one flesh.9 What therefore God hath joined together, let not man put asunder.10 And in the house his disciples asked him again of the same matter.11 And he saith unto them, Whosoever shall put away his wife, and marry another, committeth adultery against her.12 And if a woman shall put away her husband, and be married to another, she committeth adultery.
Gay marriage opponents like to note that God intended marriage for one man and one woman, which Jesus alludes to in verses 7-8. However, when people say this, they are often implicitly opposing two men or two women, and not so much one man and multiple women. In that day, it was common for Pharisees to leave their wives to marry younger, more attractive women, and get off on the technicality that they weren’t committing adultery because they didn’t sleep with her while married to the previous wife. But Jesus had higher standards in mind. Just the other day, a non-Christian friend said, “Man, if Sanford was going to do that, he should have at least done it the right way, and not gotten with her until after his divorce was final.” The same thing people think now was thought then, and there is nothing new under the sun.
What anyone who supports the biblical view of marriage should be even more infuriated about is that it is not even like, say, Newt Gingrich, where he has an adulterous past and is now at least claiming to regret it. Mark Sanford’s adultery is IN PROGRESS, as he is engaged to Chapur, claiming she is his soul mate, with no apparent regard for his former wife or his sons. My grandfather left my grandmother for another woman, and I can tell you my father and uncle were not affected well by it.
Let me be clear, if you think the Republicans, as far as family issues go, should be voted for because they are the lesser of two evils, fine. But stop preaching the Republicans as the way forward for those who want strong families. Just be honest, and say that you think they are not as overt in their contempt for God’s teaching. They have just as much sexual sin as anyone within their ranks, and are doing nothing about it. Jesus had strong words for such hypocrisy in Matthew 23:
Then spake Jesus to the multitude, and to his disciples,2 Saying The scribes and the Pharisees sit in Moses’ seat:3 All therefore whatsoever they bid you observe, that observe and do; but do not ye after their works: for they say, and do not.4 For they bind heavy burdens and grievous to be borne, and lay them on men’s shoulders; but they themselves will not move them with one of their fingers.5 But all their works they do for to be seen of men: they make broad their phylacteries, and enlarge the borders of their garments,6 And love the uppermost rooms at feasts, and the chief seats in the synagogues,7 And greetings in the markets, and to be called of men, Rabbi, Rabbi.8 But be not ye called Rabbi: for one is your Master, even Christ; and all ye are brethren.9 And call no man your father upon the earth: for one is your Father, which is in heaven.10 Neither be ye called masters: for one is your Master, even Christ.11 But he that is greatest among you shall be your servant.12 And whosoever shall exalt himself shall be abased; and he that shall humble himself shall be exalted.
Further, in verses 24-30, he says:
24 Ye blind guides, which strain at a gnat, and swallow a camel.25 Woe unto you, scribes and Pharisees, hypocrites! for ye make clean the outside of the cup and of the platter, but within they are full of extortion and excess.26 Thou blind Pharisee, cleanse first that which is within the cup and platter, that the outside of them may be clean also.27 Woe unto you, scribes and Pharisees, hypocrites! for ye are like unto whited sepulchres, which indeed appear beautiful outward, but are within full of dead men’s bones, and of all uncleanness.28 Even so ye also outwardly appear righteous unto men, but within ye are full of hypocrisy and iniquity.29 Woe unto you, scribes and Pharisees, hypocrites! because ye build the tombs of the prophets, and garnish the sepulchres of the righteous,30 And say, If we had been in the days of our fathers, we would not have been partakers with them in the blood of the prophets.
Am I saying God cannot forgive Sanford? Certainly not. Am I condemning him from a place of perfection? No way. I have more sins than I can count. I have committed adultery in my heart more times than I can count.
But sin must be confessed to be forgiven, and there is no sign of repentance on Sanford’s part, nor on the part of the Republican party, with the “sanctity of marriage” in its platform. They have decided that some sexual sins are fine, while others are not, and apparently the ones they are more often faced with are the lesser sins.
It is time for Christians to see that the Religious Right has essentially evolved into the modern Pharisees. They are hypocritical and morally bankrupt. They judge the speck in the eye of others, including some of our gay and lesbian brothers and sisters, and ignore the log in their own. And they have spent years defrauding God’s people. Turn from them, and follow the Lord your God.