ABC’s Sam Donaldson appeared on Thursday’s Good Morning America to talk about the developing Mark Sanford scandal and loudly assert that it’s hard to forgive Bible-thumping Republicans for their sexual transgressions. He began by deriding, “The problem Republicans have, so many of them are sanctimonious.” [There’s a audio clip Here.]
The longtime contributor continued his attack on members of the GOP who get caught up in sex scandals: “They thump the Bible. They condemn everyone else, and when they- human- they don’t have much credit in the bank for forgiveness.“
First of all, this is not a legitimate argument. If it were, then we could just as easily say that President Obama was “sanctimonious” because he promoted and signed into law an anti-smoking law. He said he was “95 percent cured” of his own addiction to cigarettes. But at the same time he is saying smoking is not good for you and we should try to keep people from taking up the habit. Perfect example of espousing a belief or truth and not quite living up to it yourself.
Mr. Donaldson’s statements are based on the misconception that many people seem to have about Christianity. It is, in fact, itself an incredibly sanctimonious attitude, and shows great disdain for others.
Mr. Donaldson is saying Republicans but he has also said “thump the Bible” so I assume he is talking about Republicans who profess to be Christian and try to uphold the principles of Christianity.
But as I said, it is a misconception to say that as Christians we think that because we hold to certain beliefs that we put ourselves above any other. Quite the contrary. As a Christian, the very first thing you have to acknowledge is that you are a sinner, that you are a hopeless case. You acknowledge also that God is right. When he says thou shalt not steal or thou shalt not bear false witness or thou shalt not commit adultery, whatever it is, you say, yes, I agree, this is God’s perfection for us.
But He Knows full well we can’t fulfill this, and that’s why he sent us a Savior. We say, thank you, Lord. And instead of trying to figure out a way to get away with something, we try to live up to the standard God has set for us. In NO way are we saying that in reality we can live up to those standards perfectly.
Jesus said: “Those who are well have no need of a physician, but those who are sick. Go and learn what this means, ‘I desire mercy and not sacrifice.’ For I did not come to call the righteous, but sinners, to repentance.” Paul said, “Christ Jesus came into the world to save sinners; of whom I am Chief.”
The main theme of Christianity is redemption, forgiveness. It only means that we try our best, but when we fail, and we will fail, we have a Savior to forgive our failures and help us to get up and try again.
So to me, when someone says “I believe in family, in fidelity, in honesty,” he is saying this is what we should strive for in our lives and in our country, not that he thinks he, himself, is some perfect human being.
As to Mr. Donaldson, I don’t know what he believes, don’t care really, but it is interesting that he and others like him are the first ones to jump up to condemn because another has fallen short, fallen short of standards that he/they probably don’t even believe in themselves.
UPDATE: I did not see it, but I was reading today how Keith Olbermann gleefully read Sanford’s emails on MSNBC (the place for politics). Right. More like the place to promote the liberal agenda and savage Republicans and conservatives. Talk about mean-spirited. I have often wondered about the early Christians who were thrown to the lions and crowds viewed it for entertainment. The same spirit is at work in the world today.
UPDATE: Just saw a clip of Paul Begala (CNN) spouting off with this same argument, about somebody trying to tell him how to live. Please. Nobody cares how he lives, that’s for sure. Wasn’t he the one who was preaching that sex was a private matter? It’s time for this double standard to end.
Posted: 06.25.09 Updated: 06.26.09 @ 11:23/11:50 p.m.