Cain, Compartmentalization and the Holistic Life

November 29, 2011 at 10:36 am

So, another woman has come forward to make sexual allegations against Presidential hopeful Herman Cain. This is not the first woman, nor will it probably be the last from what we’ve seen. The latest woman claims this time, not sexual harassment but a long-term extra-marital affair. Needless to say, Cain’s got big problems.

But, what I think is more interesting is the “defense” offered in a memo by Cain’s lawyer:

No individual, whether a private citizen, a candidate for public office or a public official, should be questioned about his or her private sexual life. The public’s right to know and the media’s right to report has boundaries and most certainly those boundaries end outside of one’s bedroom door.

Now, on one hand, I can see the point: we don’t need to know every sexual detail of our public peoples. And yet, we are whole people. We may try to live compartmentalized lives, but the truth is that who we are in one area of life is who we are in every area of life. Al Mohler points out:

Character does not end at the bedroom door. Any effort to make this claim will be recognized by the public for what it is. We live in a morally confused age, but there is little confusion about the fact that sexual behavior and personal character are inseparable. The question of character is among the most crucial issues of a political campaign. Americans may come to different conclusions about the significance of sexual misconduct in its different forms (as in the case of President Clinton), but they know better than to accept being told that it is none of their business.

This is exactly the defense used by Clinton during impeachment hearings. What he did in private was private and did not affect his public life. And yet, if a man is willing to lie to his wife without any apparent sense of remorse, then I simply don’t trust him to tell the truth to the public. A liar is a liar. A cheat is a cheat.

Please hear me. I’m not saying we all need to live spotless lives. There’s only One who has ever done that. Nor am I saying that we should hide all of our past (or even current) faults. But it is nonsense to say that the public and private spheres of our lives are not connected. In fact, we could probably push this even farther; who you are behind closed doors is who you really are. What you do, say or think when (you think) no one is looking is more telling about your character than how you behave in the spotlight.

Cain and his team’s reaction to these allegations reminds us that our lives are whole, we do not exist in compartments (though we may live in apartments).

Who are you when no one is looking?