Wednesday, August 25, 2010

Jenny Sanford and Me: Christian Women Confronting Adultery

I don't know Jenny Sanford, the ex-wife of South Carolina Governor Mark Sanford, but I admire her public statements regarding her husband's betrayal and their divorce. She has been criticized by so-called feminists for considering a reconciliation with her husband of 20 years, with whom she raised four sons. Now the online edition of Harper's Bazaar has published Sanford's explanation for trying to salvage and then ultimately terminate her marriage.

I sympathize with and strongly relate to Jenny Sanford. During the same approximate time frame, both of our husbands, purportedly devout Christians, committed adultery and exhibited bizarre, seemingly uncharacteristic behavior as they sabotaged our respective marriages and refused to take steps to repair them. My secular friends could not fathom why I let my husband stay in our home after months of his lies and begging me to stop chemotherapy to die for his convenience. In a marriage in which God was a partner and the Bible the user’s manual, I was not the highest authority.

Matthew 18:15-17 is considered to be the Lord's guide to conflict resolution among believers. A husband and wife are also brother and sister in Christ. As paraphrased by Warren E. Berkley, the four steps to conflict resolution when a brother or sister in Christ has fallen from grace are as follows:

Step #1: Go and tell him his fault between you and him alone.

Step #2: If he will not hear, take with you one or two more, that, "by the mouth of two or three witnesses every word may be established."

Step #3: If he refuses to hear them, tell it to the church.

Step #4: If this effort fails, “let him be to you like a heathen and a tax collector.”

Jenny Sanford declared that she is not a victim. In fact, she modeled Christian values that her husband abandoned to temptation. If you want to understand the Christian commitment to God, family and marriage, please read her essay at Harper's online. Don't look to Mark Sanford, who used his wife and family as political props in a series of strange press conferences to confess not his sin but his alleged love for another woman. Instead, look closely at Jenny Sanford, whose private pain was put on public display and she chose to glorify God with her compassion, mercy and grace. In doing so, she reaffirmed her love for God, for her husband and for her family.

Slow Fade by Casting Crowns is a cautionary tale about the price of adultery.

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