The Fall of Sanford
Anytime a politician falls, it is a terrible and sad disgrace, not a time for gloating or "I-told-you-so’s." The last two weeks have seen two promising conservative politicans, professing believers, who have admitted to extramarital affairs. As a guy who has been in and around politics, I have a few thoughts:
We evangelicals belief in the inherent sinfulness of man. Anyone can fall. Nobody is immune to moral failure. Nobody nowhere. That’s why preachers and Christian leaders especially must set up boundaries and guidelines. From all accounts Mr. Sanford was a model husband and father. And yet the seemy culture of politics pulled him in and possibly destroyed a once-model family. Saddness.
Power is corrupting. It is so terribly corrupting. We all want to be in charge and when we get there, there is a temptation to isolate ourselves from reality and surround ourselves with sycophants who tell us we’re pretty and perfect and can do no wrong. What a dangerous place to be. Apparently Mr. Sanford fooled himself into thinking his sin wouldn’t find him out.
Be careful where you point fingers. Those who don’t believe in the institution of marriage and the sanctity of life have said Governor Sanford is a hypocrite for so forcefully denouncing outher politicians when they fall and denouncing the homosexual movement, when his own life reflected sexual license. And in this case they are dead-on right. Here’s a careful warning to conservative, family-values politicians (whose positions and platforms I support). Be careful at the shrillness of your speech. Those wagging fingers can come right back at you. Governor Sanford was a somewhat cocky conservative, who took delight in the fall of others and came off kind of shrill. Now all those words he spoke are coming back at him. As Christians, we should always lead with grace. Don’t let the talk show guys be your guide. Let the Bible be your guide. Let Jesus be your guide.
Be careful how you rise, because that may be how you fall. Governor Sanford owed some part of his political rise to his condemnations of the fall of others. He was a loud guy who denounced President Clinton. He outed another Republican and used that as a way to gain favor. In business, in life, in church and ministry life, if you make your moves by stepping on others, you’re setting yourself up for a dangerous fall. Always, always lead with grace and let God do the promotion.
The conservative movement needs to look itself in the mirror. We made hay at the indescretions of President Clinton, but since then, many of those conservative guys have seen their own skeletons come leaping out of the closet. I laugh at how Sean Hannity will denounce Clinton and then interview Newt Gingrich in the same breath. I love Newt for his thoughtfulness and ideas, but don’t you see the hypocrisy? I don’t believe we should surrender on the moral issues one bit, but can we peper our politican action with grace? Do we have to send shrill press releases and bury the other guys like they are the devil incarnate? Do we as Christians have to send daily emails that stretch the truth about politicians we don’t like while accepting half-truths about the guys we approve of?
Above all, folks, we need to guard our families. Our own families. Love them, teach them the Word of God, and set up boundaries for our own protection.