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Letter to the Editor

3rd Congressional District candidate opines on Gov. Sanford


web posted July 7, 2009
Dear Editor,
“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 every situation.

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 falsehood.

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

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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