During a time when the very fabric of our republic is unraveling beneath our feet, I am appalled at the level of attention our news media have chosen to devote to ‘celebrity‘ in recent days. Nevertheless, I must admit news of Steve McNair’s death hit home with me for a number of reasons. First, I had the privilege of meeting Steve when he was the quarterback of the Houston Oilers (who later became the Tennessee Titans). I taught a team Bible study from time to time, and led pre-game chapel services on occasion. I did not know Steve well, but I knew he was well-respected by his teammates, and carried himself well. He seemed like a thoughtful, humble, down-to-earth guy.
This news also hit home because I too am the father of four sons. In a country with a birthrate below 2.0, it is unusual to meet people with four or five children. What are the chances that two high-profile adultery stories within a period of weeks would both involve men with four children, let alone four sons? I found the news quite ironic from that perspective….
…Both Sanford and McNair professed faith in Christ. As I have written in my previous post on this subject, this should not be viewed as an excuse to throw stones, but a cause for alarm. We must all be on guard. We cannot assume that our redemption makes us immune to the wiles of an adulteress, or more specifically, to our own desires. We must hear and heed the Word of God. Sanford's email correspondence shows that he even used the Word in an attempt to govern his actions. Unfortunately, his sin blinded him to the fact that he was applying the text to the wrong woman.
…First, governor Sanford’s sin should remind us all of how important it is for men to guard their hearts while away from home. Governor Sanford met the woman with whom he had this affair while on a business trip in Argentina (see USA Today). During this trip, he reportedly counseled her about her relationship with her estranged husband. As it turns out, this was the beginning of the end. Those of us who have occasion to leave home for work need to take heed. Watch yourself.
Affairs do not begin in the bedroom. They begin when we start to share intimate details with women other than our wives. This doesn’t mean that it is never appropriate to have a conversation with a woman. However, this type of conversation usually takes place in isolation. In other words, it is highly unlikely that the governor and this other woman were sitting at a crowded table having a conversation about her troubled marriage and what she should do. At some point these two shared a stolen moment.
Second, governor Sanford’s sin should be a warning to us about the danger of extra-marital intimacy of all kinds. After the initial meeting Sanford began to communicate with this woman via email. It was then that things went to another level. Imagine that; a man initiates private, intimate communication with a woman who is not his wife via email and things escalate! Men, we must be guarded in our communication with women. Don’t think governor Sanford is unique. Unfortunately, this story is anything but surprising.
Finally, Governor Sanford’s sin should be a warning to us about our continuing need for the gospel. Many people are asking the a very familiar question in light of this tragedy: “Why would someone with so much to lose do something so stupid and self-destructive?” The answer is simple; sin is more powerful than self-preservation. I don’t care what you are relying on to keep you from sinning; unless it is the gospel, it is insufficient. Paul alludes to this fact in Galatians 6:
“Brothers, if anyone is caught in any transgression, you who are spiritual should restore him in a spirit of gentleness. Keep watch on yourself, lest you too be tempted. Bear one another’s burdens, and so fulfill the law of Christ. For if anyone thinks he is something, when he is nothing, he deceives himself.” (Galatians 6:1-3 ESV)
There is not one among us who is beyond the continual need for the gospel. We are saved by the gospel and we are sustained by the gospel. Jesus is “the founder and perfecter of our faith” (Hebrews 12:2 ESV). Christianity is not a course we take, it is a life we live. Jesus is more than a spiritual helper who gets us going in order that we may do the rest ourselves. On the contrary, “I am sure of this, that he who began a good work in you will bring it to completion at the day of Jesus Christ” (Philippians 1:6 ESV)
One of the most dangerous things we can do in a time like this is vilify Mark Sanford and look upon him as some hypocritical monster whose sin is somehow unique. This is a story as old as time itself. The wisest man in the Bible, the strongest man in the Bible, and the most godly man in the Bible all succumbed to sexual sin. I don’t know about you, but I am not wiser than Solomon; I am not stronger than Samson; I am not more godly than David; and apart from the God of the gospel, I am not a better man than Mike Sanford. Nevertheless, I still believe the biblical model of marriage as a monogamous, life-long covenant between one man and one woman. It is believing that truth that allows me to say that what Mike Sanford did was sin. And it is believing that truth (whether they admit it or not) that allows the opponents of ‘traditional’ marriage to attack governor Sanford. If they honestly believed that marriage had no parameters, they could not go on the attack. And if this was just about him “breaking his vows,” (i.e., he’s just a hypocrite because he broke his vows, not because we believe marriage has to follow traditional rules), then there would be no logical reason to address the homosexual marriage issue in light of this tragedy. Of course, that would assume the existence of honesty, logic, reason and truth in American politics.
Baucham reminds us of the wisdom and warnings found in Proverbs 5,6, and 7 to flee adultery.