Less than 48 hours ago, I had the privilege of watching, live, the public confession of South Carolina Governor Mark Sanford. Four minutes after his press conference concluded, I updated on Twitter and Facebook my immediate feelings: “I’m proud of Mark Sanford.” This started a firestorm of comments on my Facebook page, which have continued even into this evening. Five minutes after the press conference, I sent a personal email to the governor. Before the evening was over, I put pen to paper and wrote an Op-Ed piece about the governor’s confession. Today that article is featured on the home page of one of the most highly-trafficked Christian web portals on the Internet, CBN.com. I entitled it “Why I Am Proud of Mark Sanford,” although I think it is posted with a different title.
Take a look at what I had to say. I invite your feedback, comments, discussion.
Meanwhile, I’d like to also share with my readers from the email I sent to Mark Sanford, because it unpacks a bit more of my feelings on the confession he made to the public. Yes, I realize that we have seen only his public portrayal of the situation; I realize his could be sheer facade. I am not naive, yet I have a habit that won’t go away of giving people the benefit of the doubt.
I am also of the opinion that a man can genuinely love God, yet behave unfaithfully toward Him; that a man can genuinely love his wife, yet behave unfaithfully toward her. Furthermore, I am of the opinion that a man can take strong, unflinching, and authentic stands against sinful behavior, as Sanford has done in the past, denouncing it and condemning it, yet find to his dismay that he has fallen prey to the same temptations–without invalidating the truth that motivated his prior posture. All must be held accountable for such sin and failure, and all must answer for it. The most important factor in the equation is that–how they answer.
And so I share with you now from my letter to Mark Sanford:
Dear Governor Sanford:
I have no idea when you will get a chance to read this, or if will only be read by a staffer. No matter. I have one thing to say to you in this moment of tremendous regret, grief, and pain in your life: I am deeply proud of you.
I have never heard your name before today. And today, you have so inspired me and humbled me.
I am a conservative Christian minister. I am ordained in a very well-known denomination. . . . I preach regularly, encouraging holiness in lifestyle, godliness in character, and purity in conduct. And I want you to know that I have rarely seen a public figure model godliness the way you have modeled to us all today. There will be many, I imagine, who will lift you up as an example of compromise and whatever else. But I want you to know that there may be more, including me, who will hold you up as a reminder of King David and many others who respond to their own humanity in the right way.
I want to say it again, Mr. Sanford–who I have never met, and never known until today: I am deeply proud of you. . . . You are an inspiration to all of us. Thank you, thank you, thank you for standing in stark contrast to so many other public figures who have not responded in a godly manner.
Today, Governor, you stand out in my mind not as a man who has “blown it,” but as a man whose leadership I will forever respect. You may have done more to positively influence the next generation today than you have ever done, or ever could do. I thank you for it. I will tell your story to my kids, and they will be stronger for it. I have four young ones also. Your kids? They are lucky to have you. What a dad. What a man.