Friday, June 26, 2009

The Case of the Fallen Governor

It seems that Chuck Colson has summed up what many of us were thinking in light of the actions of Governor Mark Sanford. Shock, anger, sadness and yes bewilderment as to why a man who seemingly had it all would take the risk that he took and then be discovered. I urge each of you to read carefully and then take time to read the comments I have added at the end of the piece by Mr. Colson.

The Bewilderment of Sin
The Case of the Fallen Governor

June 26, 2009

In the past 24 hours since Governor Mark Sanford admitted his affair, I’ve run the gamut of emotions: sadness, depression, anger, and most of all, bewilderment.

The particular tragedy of Sanford is that he had been an outstanding governor. He’s attractive, engaging, and smart. He is an articulate and tenacious defender of family values. And he espoused the cause of Christ.

Now, his career lies on the ash heap of history. He’ll have to gracefully withdraw from political life and try to put his shattered marriage back together.

I mentioned sadness and depression. Sanford’s admission is simply the latest among pro-family conservative Christian politicians. Remember Senator David Vitter, involved with a prostitution service? Then just a week ago, Senator John Ensign of Nevada—a good friend I have known for years—he, too, admitted an affair.

And now Mark Sanford, probably the last man in American public life I would have expected to so incredibly disappoint us.

Sadness, depression—then there’s anger. These men dishonored their families and their offices and the Christian faith they profess.

But most of all, I am bewildered. Sanford had it all—a beautiful wife and family, high public office, and he was a viable candidate, perhaps, for President. Why would he throw it all away?

The answer came to me as I stewed over Sanford’s demise—and as I have reflected on my own life and my own failures, particularly before I knew the Lord.

We humans, you see, have an infinite capacity for self-rationalization. We reason that we can give in to those seemingly minor temptations—say an emotional attraction to a co-worker, or just one drink at the party—because we think we know the boundaries. We think our reason can keep us safe.

The problem is, as C. S. Lewis wrote in his timeless essay, “Men Without Chests,” that our reason is no match for the passions of the flesh. Lewis put it this way: Our stomachs (that is our appetites) can’t be controlled by our minds (that is, reason). Something else has to come in to play—and that is the spirited element, or our chests, as he called it. It’s our will being trained to do what is right and just.

Nearly every grave moral failure begins with a small sin. Because there comes a time, after we toy with sin, when one pull of the flesh causes us to cross the line, to disengage from reason, and to follow our appetites wherever they may lead.

And, I’m afraid, this is especially easy today. We’re told we can have it all, that we can be free to pursue any pleasure. Our wills are not trained to do what is good, but to do what pleases us. Many of us have become, as Lewis said, men without chests.

So, fellow Christians, don’t be self-righteous. Let the Sanford tragedy be a cautionary tale. Are you toying with sin? If so, for your self, your family, and your Lord—stop. Don’t put yourself in a position of compromise.

Instead, let us—you and I—prayerfully build up our chests and train our will that we might, by God’s grace and in fellowship with other believers who hold us accountable, not betray our Lord.

Remember as well the words spoken in I Corinthians 10:13(AMP): For no temptation (no trial regarded as enticing to sin), [no matter how it comes or where it leads] has overtaken you and laid hold on you that is not common to man [that is, no temptation or trial has come to you that is beyond human resistance and that is not adjusted and adapted and belonging to human experience, and such as man can bear]. But God is faithful [to His Word and to His compassionate nature], and He [can be trusted] not to let you be tempted and tried and assayed beyond your ability and strength of resistance and power to endure, but with the temptation He will [always] also provide the way out (the means of escape to a landing place), that you may be capable and strong and powerful to bear up under it patiently.

Before standing in judgement of Governor Sanford we should also remember the words in Galatians 6:1 (NIV) Brothers, if someone is caught in a sin, you who are spiritual should restore him gently. But watch yourself, or you also may be tempted.


Anonymous said...

None of us beyond temptation, and everyone among us has flaws in our character. We try, but ultimately we fail to achieve or maintain perfection in anything that we do. For those of us looking in on the Sanford issue, if we are disappointed to learn that he is, after all human, let us remember that there is only one perfection; it is not of this world, nor even among our species. Perhaps it is time that we stop looking for perfection in our politicians —for most assuredly, we are bound to find disappointment.

Beyond the character flaws of this otherwise fine man, we might wonder about the moral fiber of press and politicians (of either party) who gleefully encircle the carrion that is now Sanford. The individuals who seek their own fortune in his demise might cause us ask ourselves, and them, since when has false morality become a laudable trait?

“Moralizing and morals are two entirely different things and are always found in entirely different people.” — Don Herold

Always On Watch said...

Unfortunately, Sanford's adultery will negatively impact the Republican Party. The liberal media will see to that.

Ticker said...

Mustang, great words of wisdom on the issue.

AOW, unfortunately you are correct for as Mustang said the carrion are circling and will willing pick the flesh from the bones, leaving them to bleach in the sun of another day.

Brenda Bowers said...

" Former Clinton Aide Stephanopoulos: Dems Have a Harder Time Surviving Sex Scandals
Former Clinton operative George Stephanopoulos appeared on Thursday's Good Morning America to bizarrely assert that Democrats have a harder times surviving sex scandals than Republicans. While discussing South Carolina Governor Mark Sanford, he breathlessly claimed, "We've never seen anything like this before" and never mentioned his former boss, Bill Clinton, who escaped impeachment conviction after being caught in a sex scandal with Monica Lewinsky. GMA co-host Diane Sawyer informed viewers that Stephanopoulos had been "looking back at this roll call of apologies for indiscretions, Republicans and Democrats." The "This Week" host spun, "Democrats have had a harder time holding on to office after scandals, recently, than Republicans."

Can you believe this?!? The Dems always get away with their scandals of any nature because neither they nor the voters, especially their voters, expect anything but bad behavior. The Republicans are however a juicy treat for press and Dems alike because they are seen as being above such behavior and their voting block expects better.

That said, I personally am sick of the constant Peeking Tom mentality of the most immoral American population we have ever seen. I simply don't give a hoot who, or even what, these men decide to fornicate with except if it happens on the floor of the Senate during voting on a major spending bill. BB

Ticker said...

BB, Dems have short term memory or so it seems.

Sue said...

What a wonderful post! I too was shocked and saddened at Gov. Sanford's fall from grace. Thank you for posting the article by Chuck Colson. I have admired him for along time. Thanks for posting this timely reminder to us all!

Bryan said...

I do not know all the specific steps in Mr. Sanford's life that brought this about, but if he is willing and humble, I know that there is abundant grace available to restore or make alive in what really counts in this life.

Jeff Dreibus said...


Here is my somewhat more flippant perspective upon this issue:

Jeff Dreibus