I wonder how many people believed President Clinton when he looked into the camera and with a steeled face and a semblance of righteous indignation declared to the American people, “I did not have sexual relations with that woman.” Just in case people did not know “which” of his accusers he was referencing, he was clear to specify “Miss Lewinsky.” Or maybe he didn’t really intend to be specific—there are thousands of “Miss Lewinskys” out there who never even knew him. I’m surprised he never used this line of logic when being questioned by the grand jury. Instead, he chose to utilize a twisted type of Aristotelian logic, by positing the possibility that “is” does not always mean “is.”
The man who earned the title “Slick Willie” would show that he also deserved the double moniker of “Teflon Bill,” when after being impeached by the House of Representatives six days before Christmas in 1998 he was acquitted by the Senate just two days before 1999’s Valentine’s Day. It is intriguing that the grounds for impeachment was not that he had “sexual relations” (or should I say “near sex encounters”) with an intern who was young enough to be his daughter, but rather that he committed perjury and obstructed justice. Knowing that there was a room-full of sexual skeletons in the House’s closet, is it possible that had the president “fessed” up he would not have to endure weeks of wondering if he would join the “Hall of Presidential Infamy” with Mr. Nixon? Is it possible that his fellows on Capitol Hill did not view illicit sex as an impeachable indiscretion?
A decade later, former Republican governor of South Carolina, Mark Sanford, was exposed in a more peculiar way. Caught up in the lust-filled emotion that the Wise Man repeatedly warns about, he forsook his official duties for several days while carrying on with with his mistress in a South American love nest. The entire state was consumed with concern at the thought that he had made an untimely end while hiking on an Appalachian Trail. Little did the praying citizens know that their “moral” leader was not alone on a cold forsaken path, but was with forbidden company in a warm, but unlawful, embrace.
When the truth came to light, Mr. Sanford removed his cracked halo and returned it to the Republican Governors Association, for which he was chair, but with Clintonesque obstinacy refused to budge from his elected office. Once more, colleagues who had probably seen (or owned) the sexual skeletons in South Carolina’s political closets, decided against impeachment and allowed him to finish his term with slightly bruised slapped wrists.
Fully aware of the hypocrisy modeled by an immoral media that has normalized adultery, in December 2012 the unabashed Mark Sanford had his lover by his side when he announced his run for a seat that had become vacant in the United States Congress. We all know the rest of the story—saved from his shame, he now legislates law for the rest of us.
Eliot Spitzer is another governor who was caught with his proverbial “pants down.” Like his South Carolingian colleague, he also had a reputation for being a play by the rules straight shooter. In fact, his stated purpose upon acceding to the gubernatorial office was “to change the ethics of Albany.” He was cut from the mold that produced the no-nonsense sheriffs from nostalgic westerns who were in no way intimidated by their enemies. At least that is how it appeared until he raised the white flag of surrender in 2007 when he caved in to pressure from those who were upset by his plan to grant New York driver’s licenses to illegal immigrants.
Perhaps his softening was due to his knowledge that his ten-gallon Stetson was about to get crumpled. In March 2008, the citizens of the Empire State would learn that the self-appointed ethics czar was paying prostitutes to pacify his sexual desires. His sexually inappropriate behavior was lambasted as being “lower” than adultery. An adulterous affair involves two people who are engaged in an emotional relationship. However, there is a certain detachment in the act of prostitution—it’s not about being confused over “feelings” of love, it’s all about impersonal lust.
An astute politician, Spitzer did not allow his enemies to have the pleasure of symbolically tarring and feathering him with public impeachment hearings. In a strange twist of irony, he modeled the ethical principles he boldly promoted, and tendered his resignation just two days after being exposed. After being rehabilitated by the same media that had earlier blasted him, Spitzer recently announced his decision to run for New York City Comptroller. According to some recent polls, he is expected to win.
Sanford’s salvation and Spitzer’s expectation appear to have provided hope for Anthony Weiner. Weiner had gained the reputation of being one of the hardest working—and hardest to get along with—members of Congress. His bizarre management skills were the talk of the town, but few were prepared for the 2011 revelation that he had sent sexually explicit photos of himself to several women over his twitter account. Initially denying—or rather doubting—that those were his images, he eventually came clean and resigned from public office.
To the amazement of his critics, Weiner’s resignation was very short lived. Since Bloomberg has decided not to make a play from the Putin playbook again, the New York mayoral seat will soon be vacant. The man who broke his political teeth on the New York City Council somehow felt that he was made for the job, and with loyal wife by his side announced that he was ready to lead the Big Apple into the future. Strangely, even as he made his grand announcement, he was fully aware that his sexting addiction did not end with his resignation from congress. For a full year after his exposure, he continued to share pictures of his intimate parts to his fellow voyeurs in cyberspace.
When the news broke this time, Weiner did not even try to deny that he had engaged in sexually strange behavior. In fact, his strategy appears to be holding up a mirror to the face of America. This is the nation that has legalized pornography under the cloak of the first amendment; this is the nation that glorifies sex on television and bill boards; this is the nation that expects middle school teens to be sexually active; this is the nation that celebrates sexual hedonism.
Why should the people be shocked by a President whose intern performed oral sex with him? Why should the people be appalled with a governor who disappears for a weekend tryst with his mistress, or parties occasionally with prostitutes? Why should they be disgusted with a mayoral candidate whose constituents are also possessed by the demon of licentious sex? Weiner is willing to run against the critics, because he knows that society is being hypocritical when it assumes the role of Hester Prynne’s antagonists.
If I know my Spectrum crowd—and I believe I do—there are probably some accusing me of naiveté as they summon a short list of biblical politicians whose sexual behavior would make Clinton and company blush. After all, none of the moderns had a woman’s husband killed to cover up a pregnancy. None of them has a less than little red book with names of seven-hundred girlfriends. None of them (as far as we know) have sent their babies mother into the wilderness with no transportation and a limited supply of food.
However, while it is true that some revered biblical politicians will never be held on the pedestal of sexual purity, it cannot be denied that their bad behavior in no way represented the wholesome ideals of God’s kingdom. Those activities were driven as much by the spirit of Sodom as the ones we see today. The major difference between then and now is the impunity in which sexual laxity has possessed out national—yea global—psyche. Rather than frown on acts of unfaithfulness and sexual depravity, our modern society actually celebrates them, and all Wiener has done is expose the hypocrisy of those who expect elected officials to live out their morality for them.
It’s probably a good thing that the public is becoming less repulsed by politicians’ sexual indiscretions. This allows them to see that our worldly system is being controlled by a power other than Jehovah. Perhaps the prevalent spirit of Sodom will help some to seek moral guidance in the only One who can give it.
As you think about these words, always remember that a tree is known by its fruit.
Keith Augustus Burton writes from Harvest, Alabama. He firmly believes that the Kingdom of God will soon be established with the second advent of Jesus.
This is a companion discussion topic for the original entry at http://spectrummagazine.org/node/5435