After You've Done Something Stupid

Dr. Ray Pritchard

The headline told the story: "Politicians' Private Lives Disappearing." The writer began by discussing Bill Clinton's moral failures while he was president. Those failings are well known to us all and don't need to be repeated here. Then the writer discussed the current woes of a prominent candidate for the United States Senate. It seems that he went through a messy divorce a few years ago that involved a nasty custody battle. Unsealed records contained sordid allegations involving behavior that most Americans would regard as unsavory, and Christians would regard as downright sinful. If the allegations are true, they would seem to disqualify the man from seeking high public office.

There are numerous problems with that last sentence, not the least of which is the fact that we have often elected men to high office who turned out to rascals, scalawags, fools and moral cretins. But it is one thing to elect a person believing him to be of high moral character only to find out otherwise once he is in office. It's something else entirely to find out something unsavory about a man's past before the election. That forces all of us to make some hard choices.

Some people may argue that we don't need to know the details of a messy divorce. Perhaps that is true, but in this case we know at least some of the facts, and they can't be ignored. It also seems that the man in question repeatedly denied that anything in his divorce papers would damage his party or hurt his election chances. But that comes as no surprise. He's hardly the first person to live in denial or to minimize his own sins. Few of us confess our sins until we have to.

The writer concludes her column this way: "Candidates for public office not only have to get their political résumés together but also their personal houses in order." That's an altogether healthy development because there is ultimately no separation between your public life and your private life. What you do in private directly impacts what you do in public. Jesus said a day is coming when what is done in secret will be shouted from the housetops (Luke 12:2-3). This week's sorry episode is a case in point.

There are many lessons we can learn from this. Live today so you'll have nothing to regret tomorrow. Secret sins don't stay secret forever. The sooner you deal with your mistakes, the better. When you mess up, own up to it, confess it, tell the truth, take the heat, and then move on with your life. Bottom line: We all sin in many ways, no one is perfect, and all of us do stupid things from time to time. That's a given. It's what you do after you've done something stupid that makes all the difference.