Political sex scandals are a dime a dozen, but Gov. Sanford’s dalliance remains noteworthy for how he invokes his Christian faith to explain himself. On the New York Times‘ fantastic “Room For Debate” blog, religious commentators offer interesting takes on Sanford’s Biblical analogies, particularly the story of King David and Bathsheba.
“If the governor looks at the Bible, he will see that the story of David is told as a cautionary tale, not something to be emulated.” –Chuck Colson
“A politician who invokes the ‘I am a sinner’ language is subtly implying…‘don’t judge me harshly, since you’re just as bad.’ The problem with this is that Jesus never suggested that being cleansed of spiritual sin meant you were exempted from temporal punishment.” -Steven Waldman
Another suggests that this episode further reveals a fundamental tension between Christian faith and political conservatism:
“Christians believe that no one is blameless and all must therefore ride the coattails of a perfect being into heaven. But conservatives espouse the gospel of personal accountability. The paradox of American evangelicals is that [they hold] utterly opposing views of redemption.” -Rabbi Shumley Boteach
Yet it may be a mistake to conclude, as do some liberals, that such moral values should therefore be completely irrelevant to political discourse:
“…Personal failings do not automatically discredit the causes for which he was fighting or serve as irrefutable proof that he never believed in those causes in the first place…Americans should not be disqualified from speaking their conscience on contentious social and moral issues for fear of being exposed someday as imperfect.” -Colleen Campbell