Mark Sanford’s Emails, Christianity, Temptation, & Do Liberals Think It’s Okay To Cheat On Your Wife?

I was reading through Mark Sanford’s emails to his mistress in Argentina and it’s hard to even imagine how humiliating it must be for everyone involved, including his wife, to see those emails in the paper.

Furthermore, despite myself, I felt a twinge of pity for Mark Sanford after reading this passage,

“While all the things above are all too true — at the same time we are in a hopelessly — or as you put it impossible — or how about combine and simply say hopelessly impossible situation of love. How in the world this lightening strike snuck up on us I am still not quite sure. As I have said to you before I certainly had a special feeling about you from the first time we met, but these feelings were contained and I genuinely enjoyed our special friendship and the comparing of all too many personal notes (and yes this is true even if you did occasionally tantalize me with sexual details over the years!) — but it was all safe. Where we are is not. I have thought about it and in some ways feel I let you down in letting these complications come into a friendship that I hope will last till death. In all my life I have lived by a code of honor and at a variety of levels know I have crossed lines I would have never imagined. I wish I could wish it away, but this soul-mate feel I alluded too is real and in that regard I sure don’t want to be the person complicating your life. I looked to where I often look for advice and counsel, and in I Corinthians 13 it simply says that, ” Love is patient and kind, love is not jealous or boastful, it is not arrogant or rude, Love does not insist on its own way, it is not irritable or resentful, it does not rejoice in the wrong, but rejoices in the right, Love bears all things, believes all things, hopes all things and endures all things”. In this regard it is action that goes well beyond the emotion of today or tomorrow and in this light I want to look for ways to show love in helping you to live a better — not more complicated life. I want to help (one of Maria’s sons) with film guys that might help his career, etc. I also don’t want you walking20away (sic) from some guy (I take it the younger guy you mentioned a t dinner) because of me — and what we both have to see as an impossible situation. I better stop now least this really sound like the Thornbirds — wherein I was always upset with Richard Chamberlain for not dropping his ambitions and running into Maggie’s arms. The bottom line is two fold, my heart wants me to get on a plane tonight and to be in your loving arms — my head is saying how do we put the Genie back in the bottle because I sure don’t want to be encumbering you, or your options or your life. Put differently, given I love you, I don’t want to be part of the reason you are having less than an ideal week in what sounds like a cool spot.

This reminds me of a discussion I once had with a friend of mine about temptation. Her argument was that if the guy was moral enough and loved his wife enough, he’d never stray under any circumstances. I told her that I thought that if a man was moral and loved his wife, he would work very hard to stay out of situations where he could be tempted. That’s not because he’s immoral or because he doesn’t love his wife, but because the “flesh is weak” and even a good man, if he’s tempted enough, in a moment of weakness, may give in.

Reading that email, Sanford reminds me of what I was driving at. I bet if you had talked to him a year before that email was written and he told you honestly what he believed, he would have said it was more likely that he’d jump into a live volcano than cheat on his wife. He probably would have believed it, too.

That brings me to the liberal reaction to this. I can’t blame them for taking the opportunity to hammer Sanford and the Republican Party over this, but many of their critiques seem to lack a fundamental understanding of Christianity and morality, which, given the state of liberalism in this country, is no big surprise.

First of all, as Rick Warren has said,

“The church is a hospital for sinners, not a hotel for saints.”

Christians fall short of perfection on a regular basis. The Netroots alternative to that seems to be, “You should be completely and utterly without morals and then you’ll never be a hypocrite.” Of course, if you come back and say, “So, you’re admitting that you’re not as good a person as a Christian,” they’ll get offended.

But, here’s the reality: if you strive to be a good person and better yourself, you’re not going to always succeed — at times, you’re going to fail miserably. Still, in my experience, the people who try and fail are much better, much more decent people than those who don’t try at all because they don’t want to risk being called “hypocrites.”

Moreover, it’s a little hard to grasp the Left’s argument on marriage since, by definition, anybody who cheats on his wife is a huge hypocrite. Bill Clinton, John Edwards, Eliot Spitzer — they all took vows to be faithful to their wives and every last one of them, right up until the moment they got caught, would have told you they thought cheating was wrong and that people who do that ought to be ashamed of themselves. So Sanford, cheating on his wife? It is hypocritical, but only in the same way that anyone who cheats on his wife is hypocritical.

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