*Warning: this will be a long post. If you don’t want to read a long post…read it anyway.*
I tend to get depressed and ticked off when liberals do dumb things, but I find it even more upsetting when conservatives act wrongly. After all, conservatives claim to value integrity and ethics. This is even more true for Christian conservatives, who believe in absolute right and wrong. That’s why it’s sad when Christian conservatives sometimes find it easy to set their values aside.
As a South Carolinian, I like to keep an eye on local elections going on in my state. My district just had their Congressional primary. There were many Republicans running. It came down to Curtis Bostic (Christian, conservative who is adamantly opposed to irresponsible government spending), and Mark Sanford (proven conservative, former Governor of SC). There is a runoff scheduled between these two men. This match-up is somewhat worrying, as Mark Sanford has been shown to have a strong chance of winning. Why is this a problem?
For those of you who aren’t from SC or don’t watch the news, Mark Sanford was involved in a scandal while he was Governor. He was caught in an extramarital affair with an Argentinian women. He betrayed his family and his state, and he didn’t seem to be too ashamed of himself after he was exposed. Despite this, nearly 20,000 republicans voted for him on Tuesday. Why? Good question.
You see, prior to his affair, he was a great politician (hope that didn’t make your head explode). He was in Congress between 1995-2001. He was against government waste, and wanted to decrease the federal deficit. He even supported Clinton’s impeachment after his extramarital affair (ah, sweet irony). As Governor, he promoted public school vouchers, and even served in the Air Force Reserves. He was seen to be a man of principles.
In 2009, while he was Governor, Sanford disappeared for 7 days. No one knew where he was. His wife, children, and constituents had no idea what happened to him. He didn’t answer his phone, and failed to call his family on Father’s Day. His staff claimed that he was hiking on the Appalachian Trail (whether they knew the truth or not, I don’t know). Finally, he was spotted at an airport. It was eventually revealed that he had been on a tax-funded trip Argentina, where he had been involved in an affair. Sanford later admitted that he had been unfaithful to his wife many times over their 20-year marriage, but had never “crossed the ultimate line” until he had met his Argentinian girlfriend. Nice, dude. Nice.
Fast-forward to today. Sanford is divorced, engaged to his Argentinian mistress, and ready to grace America with his presence once again. His reason for running is to help get America back on track when it comes to spending. Like many other candidates (including Curtis Bostic), Sanford is appalled by the crazy government waste that conservatives have come to loathe. He claims to be ready to save tax money. And it seems that conservatives are ready to take him up on his offer.
(Side note: when he decided to run, Sanford asked his EX-WIFE to run his campaign. Classy.)
I’m not intending to start a war here. My question is: as conservatives, or better yet, Christian conservatives, is this man our best choice?
As conservatives, we often claim to stand up for morals and integrity. Since Sanford has shown us that he is willing to set those two things aside, should we vote for him? However, as Christians, we often claim to be non-judgmental. Does this mean that we should forgive him and move on?
Those Christians I know who are voting for Sanford, have justified their vote by saying something along the lines of, “Well, I know he betrayed his family, but I’m a Christian, and I’m supposed to forgive. Who am I to judge?” It is true that the Bible speaks out against judging others. Matthew 7 says, “Do not judge, or you too will be judged. For in the same way you judge others, you will be judged, and with the measure you use, it will be measured to you.” Many take this passage to mean that we are not supposed to judge others…period. However, just a few verses later, the Bible says, “Do not give dogs what is sacred; do not throw your pearls to pigs. If you do, they may trample them under their feet, and turn and tear you to pieces.” This may seem a bit confusing. We are not supposed to trust an unworthy person with something “sacred,” but how are we supposed to tell who is a dog/pig if we do not first judge them?
In Matthew 7, Jesus is actually stating that, if you judge someone’s actions, while you are involved in the same sin, you are judging yourself as well. This scripture is condemning hypocrisy, not judgement. It later says not to trust an undeserving person with something valuable. If we understand the true meaning of the first part, we can better interpret the second. Jesus is telling us that we SHOULD judge someone’s actions, without being hypocritical, so that we can determine whether they are worthy of our “pearls” or not.
With this scripture rightly interpreted, I believe that it is clear what SC Christian conservatives should do with Mark Sanford. We should strive to forgive him, as God has, but we cannot again entrust him with something valuable, such as public office. He has shown his true character, and has proven himself to be untrustworthy. If he was willing to do something he knew was wrong in his personal life, how do we know he won’t repeat this when he gets to DC? We should CERTAINLY be forgiving and loving. However, his lack of integrity and virtue should not be rewarded.
As conservatives, we need to stand up for the values we claim to see as important. We cannot keep condemning wrongdoings on the left, while looking past it on the right. As Matthew 7 says, we must first remove the plank from our own eye, before we can truly judge the speck in our brother’s eye.
If you are a Christian/conservative in my district, please give this situation adequate deliberation before you vote in the runoff. Also, if you know people who tend to think more conservatively, but are not planning on voting, try to convince them to go to the polls with you. This stuff is too important to stand by and say nothing.
If you want to look at both candidates, go to http://www.marksanford.com/ and http://www.stopspending.com/.
* descends from soap box*
(Real quick: I am going to be setting up a Facebook account solely for my blog within the next few days. Anyone who reads my blog or wants to know more about it is welcome to join. Be on the lookout for more info about that.) 🙂