Wednesday, June 24, 2009

Adultery and Forgiveness

It was with sadness that I learned about Gov. Sanford's admission of immorality today. This has nothing to do with his politics. His sin—not to mention the now-public nature of that sin—has brought grief, tension, and shame to his marriage and family.

Gov. Sanford "apologized profusely" to his wife, sons, staff, and fellow South Carolinians today for what he had done and how he had hurt these people. He specifically asked for forgiveness.

I sincerely hope that the governor was sincere about that.

But how should a Christian react when he finds out that another believer has sinned in such a way?

The governor has apologized publicly for what has become a public sin. This is the first and most appropriate thing to do. If a fellow Christian has sinned in a way that has become public, it is appropriate to lovingly and prayerfully encourage him to confess that sin publicly and ask forgiveness of those whom he has sinned against.

If a Christian has sinned but will not apologize, and loving encouragement coupled with biblical admonition still does not have the needed effect, then the Christian must pray for that person. One who will not repent and apologize for sin is treading on dangerous spiritual ground, and the judgment of God will be in his future.

Unless a person is directly affected by the sin, there is little else he can do. If the person is the one (or one of a group) sinned against, then the admonitions of Matthew 18:15-17—so routinely ignored in our day and age—must be followed.

Once forgiveness and reconciliation have occurred, then we must encourage and edify the one who has sinned. There will be scars, of course—sin always bring scars, and some deeper than others. There will be consequences to every sin. Mark Sanford will have to live with the regrets of this experience, even if he achieves a full reconciliation with his family, to his dying day. His political future is probably going to be brief. For these reasons and many others, not the least of which being the biblical admonition to "edify one another" (I Thess. 5:11), he needs our prayers and encouragement to do what is right.

You can view the video of his press conference here. Notice in particular these opening lines from Governor Sanford:

"There are moral absolutes, and God's law indeed is there to protect you from yourself, and there are consequences if you breach that. This press conference is a consequence."


Brenda Brough said...

I really appreciate your calm, logical thoughts on such a common problem in politics. This problem is not prevalent ONLY in politics, but plays out in families across America every day. They just aren't in such a visible position. What completely baffles my mind is that men involved in such situations seem to think that IN SPITE of the fact that their every move is documented on national TV, radio, and internet, this one little thing will be overlooked and no one will notice!! "No one will notice that I've left my office and TAKEN A TRIP TO ARGENTINA!" His wife has known about this for some time now, and I find it a little comical that she just shrugged his disappearance off and didn't say anything, knowing full well the fool was digging his own grave and was about to be caught in the most grand and glorious way that she couldn't do it better herself!! This man, as many others, is obviously trapped in number of sexual sins to the point that he doesn't care if he is caught. Obviously this isn't his first fault. But as you stated, that is what sin does. It creeps in and takes over and destroys your life and often those around you. Thank goodness for the forgiveness and grace of God.

Ken said...

I have also found it interesting (and disturbing) that, in particular, when a spouse commits immorality and thereby sins against the other spouse, the immoral spouse seems to lose all sense of equilibrium when it comes to issues of right and wrong, even after the sin has come to light. The man runs off to Argentina—did he really think that no one would notice that he, the leader of the state, had left the continent?

But that is what sin does, as Brenda pointed out. David committed immorality with Bathsheba and then saw to it that her husband was killed—did he really think no one would notice his child was born less than 9 months after he did all that? Did he really just go on with life in the palace?

Yes, he did. But David, when finally confronted with his sin, repented. He was forgiven...but the scars of his sin lasted beyond his dying day.