The past few weeks have produced many unfortunate and painful headlines for some high profile political figures. I’m thinking of Arnold Schwarzenegger, John Edwards and Anthony Weiner.
Of course they are only the latest that have made news because of their sexual indiscretions. Two years ago it was me, John Ensign and Mark Sanford; so I can relate.
The story of my extramarital affair, exposed by my own indiscretions and a poorly planned extortion attempt, made headlines for about 14 days, most of them “above the fold,” meaning on the top half of the front page of newspapers, on the front AOL, in People magazine and on countless websites. The other politicians I mentioned had higher profiles than me so the coverage they received was even more extensive.
Believe me, it wasn’t a pleasant experience and I don’t wish it upon anyone. But sin oftentimes produces severe consequences.
In reliving these headlines and even writing about them, I could not help but make a couple of relevant observations.
First, the three men I mentioned said they were sorry for their actions, but none publically confessed their sin, asking God for His forgiveness. After my story became public and I addressed the media, asking for God’s forgiveness was one of the first actions I took. Of course, I had already sought God’s forgiveness in my heart prior to the publicity, including asking for my wife’s forgiveness. My prayer is that these men sought God’s grace privately and sincerely.
Michael Hyatt, the Chairman of Thomas Nelson and an accomplished writer and blogger recently wrote of his blog “Don’t minimize your sin by calling it a mistake. Unlike a mistake, we choose to sin. Therefore, we must accept responsibility for it – and the consequences that follow.”
You can’t be cured of a disease if you don’t recognize you have it and by the same token, you can’t be forgiven of a sin if you don’t confess it to God. We not only need to take responsibility for our behavior but more importantly, we must change our behavior – usually more difficult than we care to admit.
Second, people need to understand that inappropriate emotional relationships are just as damaging as physical relationships.
As far as we know, Rep. Weiner did not have a physical relationship with the women he sent inappropriate messages and pictures to. However, we know his decision to venture outside of his marriage by having personal and intimate conversations with other women was just as hurtful to his wife as if he had a sex with them – maybe more so.
I recently wrote an article for The Christian Post on this very issue and you can read it in its entirety at:
Without exception, every Christian marriage counselor I interviewed for the article was in agreement; emotional affairs are usually more damaging than physical affairs – and more difficult to “unwind.”
This was particularity intriguing to me since I engaged in inappropriate physical relationships and many others I know have fallen into inappropriate emotional affairs; either intentionally or unintentionally. Both types are affairs are sinful and go against Jesus’ teaching in His Sermon on the Mount.
Many times when divorce takes place, unfortunate consequence is the children suffer when they don’t have the benefit of a Mom and Dad raising them under the same roof. Nearly every study done on children of divorce find they suffer in several areas including having emotional insecurities, physical problems and performing poorly in school.
That is why I hope Anthony and Huma Weiner can find a way to rebuild trust and preserve their marriage – something much more important than him staying in congress.
Like sin, there are many consequences of failed marriages including violating our commitment to God, our promise to one another and neglecting to provide a proper environment for our children.
I have recently finished my memoir and will be discussing these and other topics in much greater depth. In the meantime, my prayers are that those couples or individuals engaged in either emotional or physical affairs immediately stop what they are doing and seek qualified counseling, preferably Christian counseling.
And for those individuals or couples that are not married, they should discuss appropriate boundaries and expectations with the opposite sex before marriage. That way they can enjoy the emotional and physical intimacy God intended only for married couples.
As author Gary Thomas asks in his book, Sacred Marriage, “isn’t marriage supposed to make us more holy rather than just happy?”