A Christian View on the Affair on Mark Sanford

"Much of the modern resistance to chastity comes from men's belief that they "own" their bodies – those vast and perilous estates, pulsating with the energy that made the worlds, in which they find themselves without their consent and from which they are ejected at the pleasure of Another!"
C S Lewis


Recently, an American Hindu professional asked me why the divorce rate among Southern Baptists in the United States is so high (over 50 percent).  He claimed that divorce in India is fairly rare.  He also spoke of his shock of the illegal drugs that are available in the public school his son attends.  Once again, he claimed that this sort of thing is not seen in the Hindu culture.

In an article posted by Hindus, the following statistics are quoted.



"The study, titled the US Religious Landscape Survey, released on Monday by the Pew Forum on Religion & Public Life, also found that Hindus also have the lowest divorce rate of any group –only 5 percent have been divorced."


 What is even more disconcerting is the sub-title which could even be called the premise of the article — One more example of Greatness of Hindu Dharma!


In recent years, there seems to be a very slow increase in Hindu divorces in the United States. In the following article in HIndunet, one finds the following quip that is equally disturbing.



“Remarked a wit "The rapidly increasing divorce rate indicates that we are indeed becoming the land of the free. Yes, replied his practical friend, but the continuing marriage rate suggests this is still the home of the brave."


In the same article, a Hindu psychologist, Dr. Rudra, claims that the psychological threat currently faced by boys in India could be responsible for the rising separation rate. "Men are brought up to believe that they will be the main providers for the family.  It is hard for them to face the fact that girls today are equally well-educated and are capable of earning more than them."

However, the following comment which I discovered on a discussion site says it all.  I have left the spelling errors intact.



“Because the people who believe in Hinduism are dedicated followers of the faith. Christianity has a large number of followers that are overly obsessed with mass mass mass recruitment.  So an overwhelmingly large amount of "christians" are just non belivers who slap a Jesus rulez stickers on the bumper and actually don;t give a (bleep) about anything other than what they're going to have for dinner that night.  That's just how it is, man, Hinduism doesn;t push recruitment at all, so the followers are geuine."


Ten years ago, when I was living in Texas, one of the local school districts wanted to adopt a set of five core values that would be taught to all of the children on a regular basis.  I believe the list included character traits such as honesty, loyalty, respect, and kindness.  Those seem rather logical don't they?  Well, uproar ensued.  I distinctly remember one mother being quoted as saying that no one was going to force their values on her or her children!


Until the last century, Americans believed in a core set of values based on the Judeo-Christian heritage of this country.  However, beginning in the 1960s, all values began to be viewed as relative, or even worse, not applicable to all human beings.


Thomas Jefferson is famous for cutting up his Bible to exclude many of the miracles and to include the moral teaching.  Although he was essentially a Deist (not a Christian in a conventional sense), he believed that society had to have a template of agreed upon values or society would descend into chaos.  His template was in the moral teachings he kept in his cut-up Bible.



And chaos is what I believe we are struggling with today.  If we cannot agree on simple values such as honesty, how can we possibly hold people accountable for their actions except by 'suing them'?


We have abdicated teaching our children the value of loyalty and why giving one's oath is necessary in our relationship to one another.  Contract law is an important foundation to the order of our country.  If we sign a piece of paper stating we will provide good and services to another, we can't simply walk away when a better offer comes along.  The law forces us to fulfill our obligation.  These laws were put in place because we value honesty and commitment.


Mark Sanford claims to be a Christian.  Yet, it seems, in his personal life, he did not value his family and his oath over a beautiful woman.  It's my understanding that he met this woman on a dance floor.  Huh?  What was he doing on a dance floor without his wife?  He claims to have had other ´inappropriate' (whatever that means) relationships as well.


Unlike Billy Graham, he did not love and value his wife and children enough to build a hedge of protection around his heart.  Billy Graham made it his policy that he would never be alone in a room with a woman who was not his wife.  In his autobiography, Just As I Am, An Autobiography of Billy Graham, he recounts an incident when a female reporter walked into his hotel suite alone.  He immediately jumped up and ran out of the room.  Graham never had a sexual scandal in the course of his long ministry — a remarkable feat considering the current scandals involving high profile Christians.


I believe the above quote from Yahoo Answers hold the key to one of the reason that Christians often don't fare well in living out their faith.  She's right in saying that  Christianity is a victim of mass marketing.  For many of those who attend today's megachurches, church life consists of a good show on stage and maybe a cool sermon on having sex for the next seven (or maybe even thirty) days!  However, ask the average Christian about the difference between Christianity and Hinduism, and one is often met with a blank stare.


Several years ago Ken Hemphill, former President of Southwestern Baptist Theological Seminary, visited my former church to discuss how to 'do Sunday school'.  I was mystified by his presentation.  He claimed that adult Sunday schools exist primarily to evangelize the lost.  He droned on and on about how to bring neighbors to church.


During a break, I engaged him by explaining that current polls indicate many of today's Christians do not believe Satan and the Holy Spirit are actual beings and that they believe all religions lead to God.  He asserted he was aware of those studies.  I then asked him when and where he thought Bible teaching should occur, if not in Sunday school.  With that challenge, he began to move away from me.  As he retreated, he said (I kid you not), 'You can do that one on the fly!'  The Yahoo person is right.  We're not making disciples; we are making superficial Christians and some might rightly argue that we are not producing Christians at all.


In the early church, when someone made a profession of faith, he was not instantly added to the church roster.  Instead, he became a proselyte for one year.  During that time, he was taught the essentials of the faith.  At the end of that year, he once again made a profession of faith — this time more knowledgeably.  The early church produced disciples that were willing to give their lives publicly in the arena.  In fact, so many wanted to be sacrificed for the faith that the church leaders had to calm them down!


What kind of Christians are we producing today?  Contemporary Christians complain they are being persecuted.  Imagine what would happen if a real Nero-style persecution were to occur.  I fear many would abdicate in a moment's notice.  Dietrich Bonhoeffer, in his classic book The Cost of Discipleship, decried 'cheap' grace.  He emphasized that when we are called to faith, we are called to take up the cross and die to ourselves.  In stark contrast, Governor Sanford couldn't even keep his pants up for Christ.


I worry about the state of the church today.  Mark Noll, in his must read, landmark book, The Scandal of the Evangelical Mind, makes the point that Christians are essentially 'stupid' when it comes to their faith.  I look around and see how churches are reacting to the current culture.  The Calvinistas believe the main problem is women.  Ed Young, Jr., and others seem to think the problem is not enough sex.  Others think that getting people hitched at a young age, having a quiverfull of kids, and homeschooling is the answer.


On the contrary, I believe we are failing to teach our children and converts the core values of the faith.  We must teach one another to put God and others ahead of ourselves. Camp Kanakuk calls this the 'I'm Third' rule.  Christianity is not a walk in the park.  It is hard and it calls for a daily dying to our own wants and needs.  It's definitely NOT a social club!


The other day I heard about a conversation among a few church members.  They were discussing a case of sexual abuse that happened in their church.  One woman said that because it happened so long ago (three or four years prior) that it didn't concern her.  Another remarked that it wasn't what God told her to 'think about'.  She had other more important things to do.


This is precisely what caused Governor Mark Sanford to ditch his values.  His personal feelings were of utmost importance — NOT his wife, his kids, or even the people of South Carolina!  They had to take a back seat to his own selfish desires.  This may very well be one reason that people do not believe in Jesus Christ.  We sure as heck aren't demonstrating that we really believe the mandates of Scripture.  We ,who profess to be Christians, can't even keep our families together!  For those outside the faith, Hindus and Mormons seem to live out 'family values' far better than we do.  Ouch!

Tomorrow we will show why Mark Sanford's Argentinian honey is NOT his 'soul mate'.

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