Alec Baldwin wants me to move on and not pay attention to the Mark Sanford fandango. I basically agree. But over the last couple of days I have been wondering why the Mark Sanford affair rankles me more than, say, the Elliot Spitzer affair. And it is, of course, because of Sanford’s hypocracy.
Mark Sanford has made a career of moralizing against other people. The (until soon) Governor voted to impeach then President Bill Clinton for his moral illegitimacy and claims that marriage among gays and lesbians undermines the institution. On the other hand, Elliot Spitzer never threw stones against other adulterers knowing full well that the shards of glass of his own house might cut him. He also was a staunch supporter of gay marriage, perhaps because he was inspired by the determination of the gay community to be married in the face of all obstacles, when he could and did take his marriage for granted.
It is the bald hypocrisy of Sanford that makes me gloat over his downfall. But it begs the question of the font of his hypocrisy. Unfortunately, I think it may be faith. Sanford is constantly described as a man of deep faith. Instead of his faith giving him insight into the deep fallible nature of humans and fueling his compassion for others; his faith has been used as a moralizing bludgeon for attack and condemnation.
Now that it is his turn in the shame spotlight he will assuredly use his faith to promote a repentance and forgiveness scheme for himself like the Ted Haggards. But the damage he has done and his systematic judgment of others he used as the faithful ladder of his career has lost its power to elevate.
All that Sanford and the other hypocrites like him can hope for is that God will break them of their arrogance and make them new as people of compassion and acceptance.