Saturday, June 27, 2009

He Said: Can Sanford Recognize His True Soul-mate?

When Jesus told us that no person should put away their spouse except for adultery he didn't say that a man or woman should put away their spouse even if they met their perceived soul mate. In Matthew couples are told in the earthly marriage vow: “Therefore what God hath joined together, let no MAN put asunder [ apart ]” (Matthew 19:6). In the case of Governor Mark Sanford he was plain and simply gratifying his self in sleeping with María Belén Chapur.

Declaring Ms. Chapur his soul mate does not exculpate Mr. Sanford. Mr Sanford entered in to a binding agreement with his current wife by who he had four sons. Perhaps he told her somewhere in their two decades of marriage that she he loved her and she was the only one for him. Just because a man uses a few lines like you are my soul mate should we all of a sudden feel sympathy for his adulterous and dishonorable behavior.

Not only did Sanford dishonor his wedding vows but he dishonored his political trust as a public official when he used $8,000 of the state's money to have sex with his girlfriend. People forget that he did not come forward willingly to make a confession. He was caught in the act and only did so because he was forced to. He is no better than Bill Clinton. At least President Clinton wasn't seen in a bar making out with Monica Lewinsky. Adultery is adultery and those who engage in it are weak human beings not romantic heroes. Mark Sanford is a hypocrite in that he condemned Clinton on moral grounds then succumbed to the same behavior.

Mr. Sanford does not understand the American public very well. We are willing to forgive public celebrities their indiscretions but not their hypocrisy. Right-wing politicians who trumpet their family values and then betray their families are never trusted. Jenny Sanford is willing to forgive her husband if he genuinely wishes to stay in their marriage and work on fixing it -- but will his constituents?

Today in Sex Americana in the Wall Street Journal Gerard Baker hit the nail on the head about Sanford when he said:

The evidence of recent years in fact appears seems to be that straight (in every sense of the term) adultery is no longer a political disqualification for office, not even in Bible Belt states, and not even for Bible-wielding Republican politicians.

Instead the role that sex plays in politics is more nuanced.

The common view is that hypocrisy is a bigger career-killer than actual sexual misconduct; that if you’re a finger-wagging, family-preserving conservative, you’re going to have a harder time sustaining a career after revelations that you strayed than if you’re a permissive liberal.

There’s clearly something to this. Certainly part of the secret of Bill Clinton’s survival, one assumes, was that no one ever imagined that the former president was trying to tell people how to be a good married man. When Arnold Schwarzenegger ran for governor of California, highly plausible claims that he had made unwelcome advances towards a number of women scarcely dinted his election prospects. And Eliot Spitzer, the former New York governor whose career was cut short by an expensive prostitute habit, seems to be on course for an improbable comeback....

But it ought to be clear that even among supposedly character-obsessed Anglo-Saxons there is an asymmetry to this relationship. Voters have shown a marked willingness to forgive a politically effective rogue. They can never be expected to extend the same forbearance to a morally perfect fool.

Sanford is not making much of an effort to save his marriage. In reading of his supposed breakup with Ms. Chapur in the Wall Street Journal this week he was seen in a bar canoodling with her. I guess he was letting her down gentle being he is such a great guy. He also failed to tell his wife he was breaking up in person as she had no clue where he was.

Jenny Sanford was in my opinion on the moral high ground when she said showing her strong belief in her commitment to God and her husband despite the humiliation:

Psalm 127 states that sons are a gift from the Lord and children a reward from Him. I will continue to pour my energy into raising our sons to be honorable young men. I remain willing to forgive Mark completely for his indiscretions and to welcome him back, in time, if he continues to work toward reconciliation with a true spirit of humility and repentance.

This is a very painful time for us and I would humbly request now that members of the media respect the privacy of my boys and me as we struggle together to continue on with our lives and as I seek the wisdom of Solomon, the strength and patience of Job and the grace of God in helping to heal my family.

Mark Sanford on the other hand was not very penitent when he said:

And in this regard, let me throw one more apology out there, and that is to people of faith across South Carolina, or for that matter, across the nation, because I think that one of the big disappointments when, believe it or not, I've been a person of faith all my life, if somebody falls within the -- the fellowship of believers or the walk of faith, I think it makes it that much harder for believers to say, "Well, where was that person coming from?" Or folks that weren't believers to say, "Where, indeed, was that person coming from?" So one more apology in there.

I personally think that where Mr. Sanford was coming from is that he was one randy dude that like every other adulterer was just justifying his bad behavior. His foolishness is not just that he carried on an illicit affair but that his real soul mate Jenny was standing ready to welcome him back with open arms. In my mind Jenny to whom he is legally and lawfully married is his real soulmate.


  1. He Said, I hope you're not suggesting that no matter what you should always stay in a marriage, such as abuse. I definitely don't think those marriages involved soul mates. Lots of people are immature and don't know how to commit. Sanford is obviously one of those people. He should never have married her if he didn't feel that she was his soulmate and if he felt it starting to fade then he should've had the decency to work it out without looking for love in all the wrong places. I don't trust politicians who cheat. If a politician or anyone for that matter makes a commitment to their spouse in marriage that they will forsake all others and they don't feel that that is important, then why would they feel anything else in life is that important either? I don't feel that you can separate the two. Now, if there was a politician who was honest from the get-go and his/her wife was OK with his/her infidelity and nothing was hidden, well at least he/she's being honest about it and it's the way he/she wants to live.

  2. I agree with you that our whims, and that is what all that talk about soul mates amounts to, do not justify infidelity. But more importantly, I am happy that it's not me.

    He who is without sin throw the first stone.

    No matter what we do, the nature of sexuality is that it makes humans uncomfortable. If you don't have sex, you'll be uncomfortable. If you do have sex, you'll have children and then you'll really be uncomfortable.

    Even if you choose not to have children, sex relates you intimately with your partner and that comes with responsibility and constraints.

    It is important to approach sexuality with humility. Mortals are not in charge of their bodies. We are our bodies.

    Any claim to the contrary, that we are in charge of ourselves, is arrogant, or in theological terms, idolatrous.

    We are more likely to remain true, if we carefully seek to understand sexuality and if we acknowledge our limitations openly. Especially, openness is important.

    When it comes to sexuality, nothing can get you into more trouble than denial.

  3. Hellmut, I really like that comment. Those are some very important thoughts. Obviously many of these "family values" politicians THINK they are in charge of their bodies, then when temptation comes they realize just how weak the flesh really is. I'm not saying we are slaves to our bodies, but moral character is difficult to develop and maintain. Very humbling.