By now many of you have at least heard a fleeting remark in the media regarding South Carolina Governor Mark Sanford. Sanford “went missing” for a couple of days. Sanford’s office said that he “went hiking,” which apparently was a lie. Apparently, he was visiting his secret lover in Argentina. As a friend of mind recently said: “secret trips to Argentina never end well.”
What we have here is another politician caught in an adulterous affair and the lies that entangle every such affair. It seems that everyone has an opinion on such matters and they fill every available airwave with said opinion. I was listening to NPR a couple of days ago. They hosted a couple of “political analysts” who were opining about the scandalous affair. Both analyst said that they have an extremely high tolerance for such things because, after all, we can “compartmentalize” our lives and what a politician does in his/her personal life does not affect his political decisions.
One commentator went on to say that, though he had a tolerance for such “foibles,” he was hesitant to turn a blind eye to Sanford’s situation because it wasn’t just a “sleazy” one-night thing, he had actually fallen in love and that negatively affected his judgment.
There’s just so much wrong here, not withstanding the idea that some affairs are more acceptable than others, and that our personal lives are somehow less important than our “professional” lives, I want to specifically touch on the idea that we can compartmentalize our lives, as though who we are in one area can be completely separated from the rest of our lives. This idea was, perhaps made most apparent in the Clinton/Lewinski scandal of so many years before. Many of his defenders used this same slogan as his defense, that just because he was guilty of marital infidelity, that didn’t mean he couldn’t run the country well enough.
But is this really the case? What is it that has led us to believe that someone can be a liar and a cheat in one area of their life and yet be trustworthy and dependable in other areas of their life? The Bible reminds us that a liar is a liar is a liar. We are whole people. We are not compartments. Jesus Himself drove this point home with the Pharisees in Matthew 12:34:
How can you speak good, when you are evil? For out of the abundance of the heart the mouth speaks.
It is utter folly to believe that we can separate our lives into compartments that remain isolated from one another. We don’t live this day in everyday life, why do we find it acceptable for those in the public eye? It’s time we not only held our politicians accountable, but also ourselves. We let our politicians get away with such things because we ourselves don’t take them seriously. A liar is a liar is a liar and a liar can’t be trusted.
Your words reveal your heart and your heart affects every area of your life. Let’s begin with ourselves, making sure that we strive for honest consistency with the help of the Spirit in every area of our lives. Only then, let’s stop tolerating personal lies in our public officials.