Yet another sex scandal has been revealed in the Texas Capitol. A married Republican legislator has been caught in several extramarital affairs with various women – including a Capitol staffer. At least one of the relationships seemed predicated, in part, on him providing access to other politicians.
We’re all told to shrug it off and excuse it as a private matter. The more devout might call it a “sad family situation” and plead with everyone to look the other way.
But, for the most part, legislators hope we will just ignore it; a not insignificant number no doubt fear their own extramarital dalliances while in office might be exposed. Their silence is deafening.
To our modern sensibilities, deadened as they are by the cultural elite’s steady drumbeat normalizing all sin, it feels almost righteous to look the other way when politicians engage in sinful behavior.
When you dare to bring up the sexual sins of a politician, their sycophants quote out of context Jesus’ words about “casting the first stone.” Of course, he was defending a woman caught in adultery from men who – some might infer – may have themselves done a little sleeping around. But even as that story progresses, Jesus doesn’t look the other way from her sins or excuse them. Instead, He encourages her to repent of them… and go and sin no more.
There is a difference as to how we approach the sins of private people and public people. This, after all, is the same Jesus who overturns the tables of money-changers in the temple and calls out loudly and publicly the sins of the ruling elite.
In the book of Proverbs we find, “When the righteous increase, the people rejoice, but when the wicked rule, the people groan.” To be clear, those references to righteousness and wickedness aren’t limited to the particular officials’ voting records.
How have we allowed ourselves to be OK with lawmakers treating their public office like a bordello? How have we allowed ourselves to be content with their colleagues looking the other way, or worse?
While our Founding Fathers had their flaws and struggles with sin, they understood the high standard which should be applied to office holders.
Sam Adams said: “He who is void of virtuous attachments in private life is, or very soon will be, void of all regard of his country. There is seldom an instance of a man guilty of betraying his country who had not before lost the feeling of moral obligations in his private connections.”
Here’s how I say it: A man cannot be publicly virtuous and privately scandalous. People tend to be consistent in their personal moral performance. Reputation is what people see us do; character is what we do when we think no one is watching. The two almost always converge.
It is not a leap to assume that the man who cheats on his wife without repentance won’t think much of cheating on his constituents.
After all, that legislator stood before God, family, and friends when vowing marital fidelity to his wife; his commitments to you came on a flimsy postcard sent by his campaign consultant. But we’re to believe he’ll honor the promises made on that postcard with more diligence?
When politicians show us with their actions that they are cheaters, we should believe them and then remove them from the temptations afforded by public office.
When we allow our offices of public trust and power to be occupied by men seeking to satisfy their base desires, you can be certain that the needs of the people are going to lose out.
We must demand actual righteousness of ourselves and our public servants.
And, yes, we must hold those in public office to higher standards so that the people will rejoice.