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to the Editor
3rd Congressional District candidate opines on Gov. Sanford
posted July 7, 2009
“There are moral absolutes, and . . .God's law indeed is there to
protect you from yourself, and there are consequences if you breach
that." –Governor Mark Sanford. I cannot recall a more painful public
admission of adultery in my lifetime. Not only has Governor Sanford and
his family suffered, the people of South Carolina have felt betrayal
and embarrassment as well. Although I am saddened by the spectacle, I
believe something good can yet come out of this.
In his emotional news conference on June 24, Governor Sanford may have
said a few things that would have been better left unsaid, but he did
several things right. First, he took responsibility for his sin and he
asked forgiveness from everyone he has hurt. He did this in a very
personal and unscripted manner, and most people would agree that his
confession and apology were heartfelt and genuine.
Secondly, Governor Sanford made some comments about God's law, sin, and
consequences that are truthful, relevant, and worthy of
discussion. Although some think God and God's law should be left
out of public discourse, this ignores what is a very important aspect
of many people’s lives. The spiritual and moral foundation of our
nation has been built upon the Judeo-Christian understanding of God’s
nature and God’s laws, and so it's appropriate to talk about that in
the public square. The Governor's own words are the moral of this
story, and provide a profound opportunity to reflect on several age-old
truths that are just as current as ever.
First, there are moral absolutes in life, things that are right and
things that are wrong. In America, our understanding of moral absolutes
has been derived primarily from the Bible. These absolutes existed
before any of us were born, and they will be here long after we depart.
They apply to each one of us, and they are relevant at all times and in
Unfortunately, since the 1960s, our culture has steadily turned away
from moral absolutes and embraced the philosophy of moral relativism
and situational ethics. I am not saying Governor Sanford embraces this
philosophy; taken at face value he says otherwise. But our
culture has taken a definite turn towards relativism in the area of
morals, and Governor Sanford, and all of us as well, are subject to the
temptations and influences of the prevailing ethos.
Our current ethos is much more flexible in its understanding of right
and wrong than in the past, and of course, purports to be a more
intelligent and sophisticated approach to life. Moral relativism and
situational ethics allows people to kind of set their own rules as they
go along in life, albeit as long as they don't hurt somebody else.
Instead of a holier-than-thou attitude, our society has adopted a
cleverer-than-thou attitude. In our narcissism, we think we can bend
and break the rules as necessary to suit ourselves.
There are two problems with this approach to life, however, the first
being that actions have consequences. We can choose our actions in
life, but we don’t get to choose the consequences. And while
consequences are not always immediate, they are inevitable. The idea
that we can violate moral absolutes and get away with it is a
The second problem with moral relativism and situational ethics is that
people do get hurt. Lying, cheating, stealing, and killing are not
victimless actions. And the idea that whatever goes on between
consenting adults affects nobody else can be true only if people live
in complete isolation of one another, outside the fabric of community.
The reality, however, as this saga so poignantly illustrates, is that
the violation of moral absolutes has painful and destructive
consequences all around.
In the end, as Governor Sanford said, God’s law is there to protect us.
It doesn’t prevent us from enjoying life to the fullest, it enables us
to enjoy life to the fullest. In this real life tragedy, what remains
to be seen is if Governor Sanford can reconcile his heart with what he
knows to be God’s truth in his mind. On an emotional level, he has
believed a lie about his adulterous relationship, and it appears that
he has not yet come to terms with that. With all due respect, I will
pray that he comes to understand that he has already met his true soul
mate, and he is married to her.
Richard Cash is a Republican candidate for US Congress in the Third
District. He can be reached at Richard@SendRichardCash.com
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