John Edwards has and had that “all American” look about him: clean-cut, polished, distinguished … and he talked all the things Americans like and need to hear.
So, when the news of his sexual liaison came out this week, I was disappointed. He was and is human after all, like all the rest of us. I don’t believe a word of his story about how the affair took place, when it started, and that the love child is not his. But that’s not my concern. All that is done in the dark comes out. It always does …
What I’m concerned about is Elizabeth Edwards, and in fact all women who deal with unfaithful husbands. Over and over, I have seen women in my office for pastoral counseling, hearts broken because of an unfaithful spouse, convinced that the Bible tells them they must stay and forgive their husbands.
The Bible does say forgive. It says nothing about staying.
And funny, the men who have cheating wives never seem to be bound by the same theological directive. They come angry and indignant, and decry the audacity of their wives to have cheated on them. I never get from them the sense … or the statement … that they should forgive their wives OR stay with them. If divorcing their wives mean they will go to hell, then, that’s life.
It’s the women – taught very well by men – who come thinking that they must forgive their husbands and that forgiving means “stay.”
There is, in other words, this huge double standard. What? Are there two gods, one for the men and another for the women, with separate instructions for each?