Read it all.
When I was ordained a deacon in the mid 1980s, I initially served on the staff of the Cathedral of All Saints in Albany, which is within a couple blocks of the State Capitol building. Even then, there were lots of rumors of shenanigans in high places in the state government (“inside the beltway” gossip at the state level probably exists in most states). But the choice part here is that Gov. Spitzer was previously Attorney General for NY, and he took delight in claiming credit for busting up a couple high end prostitution rings. Now it looks very much like he used the services of such an elite escort service himself. No wonder politicians are generally regarded with such cynicism in our country.
But hey, at least he didn’t create a scandal on the order of the notorious former Gov. of NJ, McGreevy, who regularly used the services of a MALE prostitute. And as many readers here will be well aware, that flagrant adulterer and now proudly out-of-the-closet gay man is a student at General Theological Seminary, while his exceedingly acrimonious divorce case winds its way through the system.
So let’s keep our sense of perspective here. Eliot Spitzer is merely a minor leaguer in the sleezy scandal department. I mean, just think of bonnie Prince Charles, for heaven’s sake. Now wouldn’t he make a great “Supreme Governor” of the Church of England? Makes Gov. Spitzer look like a saint.
How people throw away their lives on things like this just boggles the mind.
Has he converted to ECUSA yet??
It’s a real shame. Spitzer had such a sterling record as AG, particularly in his war against Wall Street corruption. Everyone (even distant admirers such as myself) had such high hopes for him as governor. Only to see him bogged down in scandal practically from his first day. And just when he seemed to be recovering from his early missteps this occurs. This is truly saddening, as all sin is.
Corruption of his kind in his office is the greatest of sins. He was a carreer prosecutor attacking others for their sins while he himself was unclean. He is thus no “minor player” in corrpution. The worst sinner in private life is spotless compared to hypocrites like him when they are in positions of public trust and power. How many people has he prosecuted for minor offenses by stretching the definition of the law?
[i] Slightly edited. [/i]
I wonder what the Governor did and who he upset? Why do you think most politicians ignore the will of the people? Most politicians have major skeletons in the closet, thatâ€™s how the powers that be are able to manipulate so many of them. I find it interesting and ironic that Democrats are usually caught in scandals with women and Republican with gay men. Temptation is great when you are in high office. You will be surrounded by lots of attractive women or men. If I remember correctly, Ron Paul on a radio interview stated that when he first went to Congress, the Speaker of the House met with incoming freshman and told them if their wife isnâ€™t here in Washington, she needs to get here. Also, if you arenâ€™t married, you need to get married ASAP! Blackmail is alive and well in the world of politics.
Well, IMHO, this incident with Spizer is nothing. He admitted it, he needs to repent and make up with his wife. [i] Uncorroborated comment deleted by elf. [/i]
I find it interesting and ironic that Democrats are usually caught in scandals with women and Republican with gay men.
What bizzare world are you living on? Barney Frank and Gary Studds ring any bells for you? Maybe it isn’t such a “scandal” for Democrats because they’re the pro-gay party and don’t resign over these things?
Immorality is immorality, but corruption among those who seek and use power is more serious. I would rather have an alchoholic adulterous Governor who was less ambitious in his application of state power than a saintly puritan who thought he had the right to run over public freedom in pursuit of righteousness. The saint is often more dangerous than the sinner. And when he is a fraud as well, then the punishment must be according to his presumption, not his crime.
what’s the old saying? those who so often hurl accusations of wrong doing against others are often guilty of some of the same thing? I seem to recall the woman who embezzeled from ECUSA during ++Browning’s tenure was reportedly like that….
What I want to know is where he got the cash. The report I just heard said the ring charged $5,500/hr or $30,000/day or $50,000/weekend.
Is this all? or is there more to the story?
Every day, the theory that politicians (of whatever party) are functional sociopaths or compulsive liars gains more and more credibility. I don’t trust any of them – and I am not surprised by anything they get caught doing. Unfortunately, the selling of votes, taking of bribes, and the general corruption that comes from loving power more than life tends to go unnoticed.
Abba Pastor said, “Judge not him who is guilty of fornication, if you are chaste, or you will break the law like him. For He who said “do not commit fornication” said also “Do not judge”.”
Anyway, how’s this going to affect Clinton/Obama? IIRC, he is/was a strong Clinton supporter.
This is one interesting election …
Senators Craig and Vitter are still serving so too, the governor will probably weather this unpleasantness.
Craig is on his way out, and Vitter was not part of a criminal investigation. Spitzer faces a lot of turmoil should he stay – this is not about a hooker trying to sell her story to the tabloids – though that may happen as well.
Maybe not. Spitzer has a reputation for mercilessness and inflexibility, has prosecuted people very forcefully for the same offenses, and has become a poster boy for over-reaching use of prosecutorial power generally. He also had to cut loose some aids who were trolling for dirt on his opposition.
Bill Clinton had friends that Spitzer does not have, had charm that Spitzer does not have, and frankly there is a gulf between perjury in a civil suit, even under a law you signed yourself, and committing criminal offense that you prosecuted other people for. I think he’s going down.
#13: Spitzer may have violated the Mann Act, making this Federal issue. As one who prosecuted prostitution rings, his case is completely untenable. Expect his resignation tonight.
(Hillary wants to know: But is he still a superdelegate?)
I’d like to see the Vegas line, but I’m betting he survives. The Repubs can’t attack him without throwing Vitter and Craig out. under the bus.
I particularly like his declaration that he violated his own values. Yup. But my question is, “How can his wife bear to stand next to him, even for one minute.” Tell me, ladies, if your husband were caught with a high-end tart, would you say, “I forgive you and will stand by you because I will not judge you,” or would you say, ” Stand by you? You treacherous hypocrite, get out of my sight. You’ll hear from my lawyer tomorrow.” Judge not indeed! Lie down with dogs, rise with fleas. LM
This story, particularly because of its main protagonist, is so ripe with irony as well as fodder for snarky sarcastic comment that it strains certain elements of the baptismal covenant.
Let us take it as a cautionary parable â€“ a real life example that needs little interpretation.
Stuff like this is why we have Shakespeare and Sophocles. I have admired many of Spitzer’s contributions, even when he personally seemed to be a little self-righteous. He should be in our prayers.
This is so very tragic. Whatever happens to him politically, we should keep Spitzer and his family in our prayers. I don’t know where he stands faith-wise, but we should pray for a saving knowledge of Jesus Christ if he doesn’t yet have one. Remember that it is when folks reach rock bottom that they see their need for a Saviour.
I always had the sense that Spitzer sued in order to create headlines favorable to himself. The government is a formidable opponent with the deepest pockets. Perhaps he senses that now himself.
Let us pray that he goes to prison. It will help restore some faith in the judicial system, will appease justice for those he himself persecuted, and it might be the only thing to really cause repentance. Maybe he will come out like Chuck Colson. I doubt I would trust his faith an inch if it didn’t cost him.
Abba Pastor said, â€œJudge not him who is guilty of fornication, if you are chaste, or you will break the law like him. For He who said â€œdo not commit fornicationâ€ said also â€œDo not judge”.”
Simple fornication might be a private matter. As Spitzer himself pointed out when he prosecuted other prostitution rings, high-end prostitution rings are almost always part of a multi-level organized crime structure which will also include things like illegal drugs. Spitzer was well aware of the seamy underside of what he was doing.
From the NY Times [url=http://www.nytimes.com/2008/03/11/nyregion/11night.html?hp]report[/url] on the FBI affidavit:
The appointment was originally booked for four hours and, as Client 9 made his way toward the room, Ms. Lewis asked Kristen to send her a text message when he left. Kristen sent her a message at 12:02 a.m., the appointment having lasted more than an hour.
When she called Ms. Lewis, they discussed the clientâ€™s reputation as a â€œdifficultâ€ man who sometimes asked the prostitutes â€œto do things you might not think were safe,â€ Ms. Lewis said.
The affidavit also makes clear that this was not a one-time event.
Father Handy, with all due respect, I don’t think that the gender of the other person in the situation is really significant.
Friend Wife and I were just discussing whether there was any significance to Spitzer’s use of the name of the founder of the Society of Friends, George Fox, as his nom de guerre. We came to the conclusion that his choice of that name was probably just coincidence.
[blockquote] I donâ€™t think that the gender of the other person in the situation is really significant.[/blockquote]
I disagree. McGreevey probably could have weathered the storm if he hadn’t given his homosexual lover a six figure job in the state government to do nothing. The liberals forgive more indiscretions if it involves homosexual infidelity.
Kevin Babb (#25),
Maybe you don’t see the difference between Spitzer and McGreevey here, but an awful lot of voters do. It means that McGreevey was a pervert, and not just an adulterer, and I use that derogatory word very intentionally and not flippantly. McGreevey’s use of male prostitutes adds to the heinousness of his sins. You are entitled to your opinion, of course. But it’s very clear that the Scriptures do see homosexual behavior as especially ahborrent (e.g., the story of Sodom and Gomorrah in Gen. 19, or Paul’s castigation of homosexual behavior as “unnatural” in Romans 1:24-27 etc.).
The story of David and Bathsheeba is in the Bible for a reason.
David, is it relevant how heinous are the particular sexual sins here? Should not what really concerns us be the sins of violation of the office? In which case Spitzer is far worse than McGreevey. Scripture also has an awful lot to say about abuse of power.
I thought I posted another comment to the effect that we should pray that he goes to jail. Did that get lost in the ether or was it deleted? It was a serious and not unChristian prayer, as we are not commanded to desire or pray that the wicked go unpunished, as Justice is a good in itself and many wicked will never repent unless they are brought low. Witness Chuck Colson. No, self righteous hypocritical power hungry man like Spitzer is unlikely to really repent if he thinks he can avoid punishment. If you care for his soul, you will, like Paul, wish him to suffer the torments of the Devil to drive him to repentance.
Larry Morse reminds me that the truly scandalous doctrine is neither the Cross nor the Resurrection, but Forgiveness.
Shifting back to the merely human perspective, though, numerous commenters remind me that if we want a State that ignores gross consensual sexual misdeeds, we must have a Society that is very intolerant of them. Spitzer needs to discover that he is generally mistrusted and cannot easily make new friends, or get the kinds of jobs and loans he used to. We have three choices as a society:
1. As private individuals, treat skunks like skunks.
2. Throw skunks in jail.
3. Live in a place that stinks to high heaven.
There is no societal 4.
Well, let’s see if Spitzer has any sense of shame, unlike so many other Democrats who have apparently none at all! As did #24, I thought of Chuck Colson as I read about Spitzer’s surprising blunder and pondered the implications. Those of us who have come to know his tactics and fear and loathe them will have a little difficulty not gloating, because his exit from the political scene would be so welcome though God knows what might fill the Democratic vacuum. For the sake of his wife, who IIRC is Baptist, and his 3 daughters let’s hope he is capable of feeling shame and remorse.
#30: I do not understand you. Are you suggesting that both we and his wife should forgive him? Can you mean that? I would still like the women to answer my question: Would you do a Hillary and stand by your husband under these circumstances? In the REAL world, what would you do?
#31: If he could feel shame and remorse, would he have followed this course? For clearly, this high end tart was not the first, and as someone earlier noted, high end prostitution – all prostitution – is controlled by a vicious world wherein all the vices are interwoven, and Spitzer knew this well. Of what virtue are shame and remorse when they are the response to getting caught.?
We will always have prostitutes as we will always have the poor.
None of this makes prostitution sinless or poverty desirable. LM
#32, I don’t have an answer to your question, of what virtue are shame and remorse when they are the response to getting caught? Presumably you are suggesting that if he had any shame it’d have caused him to think twice before visiting a prostitute; in fact if he has any, he will resign. Clearly any functional conscience he has is buried rather deep but I’m not sure we can rule on whether it’s extant or not. I would be as glad as anyone to see the man go as he has been a frighteningly bad state executive.
#4–Spitzer’s “sterling record against Wall Street corruption” involved gross abuses of his prosecutorial powers, and he continued to abuse his powers when he bacame Governor. Today’s Wall St. Journal editorial has details.
There’s also this:
[url] commentarymagazine.com/blogs/index.php/jpodhoretz/2896 [/url]
As more stories come out, it is starting to look as if this scandal is of a piece with the rest of Spitzer’s life. I truly pity his wife and innocent children.
As Christians, both we and his wife are commanded to forgive him.
As citizens, though, we need to see to it that such conduct is discouraged. I would prefer that it be done through his dining alone (though people being unwilling to eat in his presence) and meagerly (through being unable to find good jobs) for a very long time than for him to go to jail, but he may go to jail anyway, possibly.
Spitzer had also done a lot of good work against human trafficking, which is the nice phrase for selling sex-slaves between countries. He may be more of a subject matter expert than was thought.
I think his wife is in no ways obligated to forgive him in any marital sense. She has every right to demand a divorce, as their marriage is destroyed by his actions. I feel sorry for her but wish she had the courage and selfespect to kick him where it counts before the camera. His continuing humiliation of her is a further sin on his count. He should issue an apology, notice of resignation and get out of the public eye.
Larry Morse, I’ll answer your very good question. Were I in that situation w/my husband . . . would I forgive him? In time I suppose. Would I remain married to him or stand by him at a press conference to show my support? Absolutely not. I believe when adultery is committed, the offending spouse has, with their actions, renounced their marriage vows and abandoned their marriage. And seeing that they have it in their character to do be able to commit such offenses against the very person who should be able to trust them the most speaks volumes. In my opinion it shows great contempt for one’s spouse when one is able to look them in the face and lie, deceive, sneak around on them with little to no difficulty. I personally wouldn’t want to be married to someone who thinks no more of me than that.
“Lord, how many times must I forgive my brother? Seven times?”
I’m not even saying I could ASK her to do this. But that’s what the guidance is nonetheless.
Ed, you would have no right to tell her what is the right option on this. The marriage is OVER. Neither Christ nor any of the apostles command a woman to keep an adulterous husband. If she wants to resurrect the marriage that is her choice, but she is free of spiritual obligation. Since marriage is an option for a Christian she is permitted to forgive him as a brother in Christ while not doing so as a husband.
If I had a partnership and found my partner stealing from me, I would forgive him, but I would feel no obligation to ever do business with hime again.
Oh dear! Please don’t tell me he’s applying to General Theological Seminary.
It’s a good thing he’s not a Republican, Not only would he be forced out of office, but a full congressional investigation would be instituted, as well as all his staff subpoenaed (ugh, that’s a tough one to spell), and it would go on and on and on in the Congress. so far, even with the media attention, he’s getting off light.
The reason they would give would be “The Republicans are supposed to be standing for FAMILY VALUES, so we have to expose this to the fullest extent of the law!” Because after all, the Democratic party support no specific morality, so they should get a pass. James Carville said on the news, “What’s all the fuss? Get off his back, people, he made a mistake, everyone in gov’ment does it! It’s only sex! And he was set up by the Republicans, anyway”
can you say “Double standard?” Sure, I knew you could.
[i] Please stop the sarcasm. Nothing positive comes from turning a thread into a series of one liners. [/i]
No, the marriage is not over. And on that you have the words of Jesus Christ himself.
Doesn’t mean she’ll live with him again.
We are ALL commanded to forgive ALL who have offended us. ALL.
Jesus has something else to say one the matter about divorce due to adultery. Matthew 19:9. Unless the adultery resulted in the death of the marriage how could he then conclude that a second marriage after that would not be adultery? My point was that she is not commanded to forgive his adultery and receive him back.
If you have a Scripture that says otherwise, cite it.
Chris Hathaway (#46 etc.),
I think you are confusing forgiveness with the wife’s choice of whether or not to continue to live with him. Forgiving the jerk and choosing to stay married to him are NOT synonymous, though many people seem to think so. That is, I understand “forgiveness” as not holding something against someone who has hurt you, i.e., not demanding that they pay for the wrong they did and leaving that matter of punishment or consequences to God. In that sense, I fully agree with Ed the Roman (#45 etc.) that this poor wife MUST forgive her wayward, deceptive husband, at least if she wants to be forgiven for her sins (remember the Lord’s Prayer etc.?).
But that choice to forgive doesn’t mean that she has to take him back. Just because she forgives him, that doesn’t mean she has to put herself in the position of continuing to be abused if he is still untrustworthy. You are correct, Christ, that Matthew’s Gospel does ALLOW divorce and remarriage in the case of adultery (not only in Matt. 5, but also in Matt. 19). However, it should also be noted that Christ doesn’t COMMAND divorce in such cases either. The choice is up to the betrayed spouse.
There are many cases I know where marriages have been restored after adultery, even repeated, flagrant adultery. But only when genuine repentance has occurred.
To mention two prominent cases involving famous ministers, I think immediately of Gordon MacDonald. He was flying high in the evangelical world, and it looked from the outside like he had a solid marriage and family life. He had pastored one of the largest, fastest growing evangelical churches in New England and then was chosen to be the President of InterVarsity, a plum position for sure. But alas, he fell into temptation and carried on a secret affair for some time, and at first, when confronted about it, refused to repent. Fortunately, he soon came to his senses, and he and Gail were able to not only rebuild their marriage, but make it stronger than ever. But it didn’t happen overnight. And he lost his position at IVCF and will probably never have the influence now that he might have had.
It’s so sad when Satan can take out one of our best and brightest like that. A similar case, though less egregious in that it wasn’t such a long-term affair, involved the famous charismatic writer and pastor, Jamie Buckingham (author of Run, Baby, Run! etc.). Again, he was very fortunate that his wife was willing to give him another chance. He’s gone to be with the Lord now, but Jamie never strayed again.
But I think Ed’s point is that forgiveness is essential for our own wellbeing. Holding on to unforgiveness poisons us inside and gives the offender permanent residence in our minds or hearts as we clutch onto the grievance we have against the one who hurt us. Forgiveness is one thing; it’s commanded by the Lord. Trust is a whole different matter. Trust has to be earned, or re-earned. The Lord never commands us to TRUST others, just to love them, which is quite different.
David, I’m not confusing it at all. I am explicitly making the distinction. I said above (#40) that she is not commanded to forgive him as a husband, that is, in his role as a husband, even while she forgives him as a brother. If she refuses to take him back as a husband then that is a way of saying that she is not willing to overlook his marital infidelities. That is not the same as harboring anger in her heart.
Question David: But if we forgive him as we are told to do, why will he not commit the same crime over and over since there is for him no punishment. No, we don’t have to trust him, nor is his wife commanded to stick with him, but why should he care if forgiveness is inevitable? I submit that to forgive one who has acted criminally against you is to condone the crime. I am assuming here that one can indeed love one’s neighbor without forgiving him his offenses. I have never understood Christ’s advice in this case, for it only harms the wrongdoer since it does nothing to provide a remedy. If
Spitzer’s wife tells him, “I forgive you but I am going to divorce you, you creep,” why should he not respond in all justice, “Then your forgiveness is just a word; it is meaningless for it carries no consequences, entails no responsibilities, since you are going to get a ton of alimony , everyone’s sympathy. and your forgiveness, for me, promises nothing but hardship.” Christ’s advice makes no sense in a human world. Why forgive those who commit crimes against you?
Peter denied Christ thrice, and Christ didn’t forgive him that I can see. Did he? Larry
Maybe, just maybe, this is a matter of semantics, then, but I find your way of using the word “forgiveness” or the phrase “to forgive” very confusing, and I still think you are missing the point. Ed is right, we are commanded to forgive those who do us wrong, but that in no way is the same as “overlooking” or excusing or downplaying the harm they have done. We agree that the wife is under no olbigation to take back the husband who has betrayed her and destroyed the trust on which a marriage depends. That’s the key point. But it seems that you can’t see yet that a wife can genuinely forgive her husband and still refuse to take him back.
I think this confusion about understanding the nature of boundaries is fairly common. I recommend to one and all the admirable book called “Boundaries” by the popular Christian psychologists, Henry Cloud and John Townsend. It’s a modern classic. In any case, I’ll drop the matter now.
Larry Morse (#49),
I hadn’t seen your post before I submitted my last one. I think you have just given a perfect and timely illustration of the very confusion I was speaking of in #50. So I’ll just repeat: No, to forgive someone does NOT mean to condone what they did. Not in the slightest.
Just to take an extreme case that comes to mind with Good Friday right around the corner: when on the Cross, Jesus prayed, “Father, forgive them for they know not what they do,” he was NOT asking God to condone or overlook the most heinous and inexcusable crime in history. Instead, he was saying, “lay not this sin to their charge,” which is entirely different (i.e., the sin remains a sin).
But once again, as I noted above in responding to Chris Hathaway, I think this misunderstanding about forgiveness is very common in our culture. For example, when someone does something harmful to us (usually relatively minor), people will often say something like: “Oh, forget it,” or “Hey, no problem,” or “no big deal” and so on. That is NOT real forgiveness because it denies the person was harmed, i.e., it denies that any wrong was committed. Our society is surprisingly uncomfortable saying, “I forgive you.” Can you see the difference?
To forgive someone does not mean there will be no consequences or punishment. It only means there is no bitterness or resentment attached. For example, as parents, when our children disobey a clear command we’ve given them, we should say, “I forgive you,” and then impose the appropriate consequences (which hopefully were clear and known beforehand). Given our cultural preconditioning, I know it sometimes takes a while to wrap our minds around that concept.
I hope that helps clarify things.
As for whether or not Christ forgave Peter for denying him three times. How could Jesus not do what he himself commands us to do? Although we don’t have an explicit declaration of forgiveness, I think the familiar story in John 21 where the risen Jesus appears to Peter and some other disciples as they were fishing provides the equivalent of forgiveness. For Jesus recreates the scene of Peter’s greatest failure (Note: there are only two mentions of a charcoal fire in the NT, the one by which Peter warmed himself in the courtyard the night he betrayed him, and the fire on which the risen Jesus cooked the fish breakfast for those disciples), and then he asks Peter three times: “Do you love me? (answer: Yes) Then feed my sheep.” In saying “Feed my sheep” THREE times, Jesus gives Peter the chance to reverse his denials, and by giving Peter the triple charge to feed his sheep, the Master in effect restores Peter to his place as the leading apostle. In so doing Christ wasn’t condoning or minimizing Peter’s lapse into cowardice, not at all, but he was forgiving him.
When we forgive, we are saying, “Yes, you did something wrong and it hurt me, but I don’t hold it against you.”
But it seems that you canâ€™t see yet that a wife can genuinely forgive her husband and still refuse to take him back.
Perhaps I am not being clear. I am sayimng that there are two levels of forgiveness corresponding to two levels of relationship. The Christian level is the superior one and there forgiveness is required. the level of marriage is an infverior one to our nature as Christians. Forgiveness of sins, or violations, in this level need not be forgiven because the nature of the relationship that would be left unhealed due to the lack of forgiveness is optional for Christians, and a broken marital relationship does not inhibit reconciliation on the superior level.
So, I fully see, as I have tried to say before, that a wife can fully forgive her cheating husband in the sense of not holding any hatred or bitterness in her heart (did you not find my last sentence in #49 clear enough) while not forgiving him in the sense of taking him back as a husband. She won’t hate him, but she’s not sleeeping with him anymore. That to me is a form of unforgiveness that she is entitled to excercize.
This may be an argument over semantics, but that’s different than an argument over theology or ethics.
The exception being referred to is “except for porneia”, which is not in all the accounts, and is not always held as being post-marital infidelity but a marriage that should not have been made in the first place. As well, divorce and remarriage can’t be found in Western Christendom before the Reformation and not consistently even among Protestants since: there’s a reason that the future Supreme Governor of the CoE basically had to be married by a JP.
Is it just me, or does the cultural script always play out the same? She, Long-Suffering Victim. Him, Pig Man.
Maybe so. Or maybe they had long had no meaningful, respectful, loving, intiamte relationship. Maybe she had decided years ago that sex was something she’d rather not bother with anymore — at least with him. Who knows? Maybe there had been months or years of marriage counseling.
Adultery is wrong, always. So is the breakdown on the other side that doesn’t technically transgress but leaves the marriage bed dead and man’s heart broken.
Sure, Spitzer, like Clinton, may be sexually pathological. We don’t know. What we do know is that countless marriages that end in adultery have their origin in the prior breakdown I describe –often years long. So enough of this cultural script — She always Long-suffering Victim. He always Pig Man.
I want to know the facts in every case that lead up to the event.
So what does the lexicon say porneia means, Ed? And if Jesus says it what difference does it make whether divorce and remarriage is accepted in the West or not? I mean, these are “the words of Jesus Christ himself”, as you said.
And please, don’t try the idiocy that porneia means an unlawful sexual relation a la Lev. 18, because no marriage would then be possible in the first place.
If you’re going to apeal to the words of Jesus you have to take them all seriously, even if they are only in Matthew. That book is canon last time I looked.
I get it, Chris. You’re OK with divorce and remarriage after adultery. The teaching even of the CoE ironically notwithstanding. Good day.
David Handy: You have written well and clearly, which I appreciate.
But I have to take exception to your thesis. My experience is and has been that there are only three sorts who forgive/forget: (1) those whose lives are substantially without principles so that all actions are equally unimportant; (2) those who believe the crimes against themselves are trivial and so beneath memory’s threshold; and those for whom forgiving grants a rush of pious virtue and will therefore forgive practically anyone. Other than that, no one ever forgives/forget an affront.
There is of course the problem of what “forgive” means. Le t me use your example. Christ asks God to forgive those who are executing him because they are unaware of the significance of their act. What can he mean? That they should be punished but without rancor or ill-will, but punished nonetheless? But this is not what his words say. If they do not know the significance of their acts, if they believe what they are doing is correct, on what g rounds can they be punished? He is not asking God to condone, he is asking God to discount the significance of t heir acts when compared to one who knows full well their significance. Here Christ’s words seem to say clearly that no sin should be imputed to them because they are unaware they are sinning. Hence, to forgive here is what most of us mean by “forgive”:I will treat one’s affront as if it were done innocently because you were unaware of the true significance of your act. He is appealing, in a sense to a divine McNaughten Act.
So we treat many of the bad actions of our children, because are done with a childish unawareness of the significance of their acts. We may punish, but not to create fear, but awareness. But when a child commits a crime with self-aware malice and ill intent,the mens res, so to speak,do we forgive that too? Indeed, not, for the malice moves the act beyond forgiveness, and we punish to correct if possible and to create a fear that will restrain repetition.
If Mrs. Spitzer says to her husband, “I forgive you,” what can she mean, if not ” You have hurt me but there is no malice in it. You have acted like a two year old, willful and intransigent, but without an awareness of the significance of your acts.” She cannot then say, as the real world encourages her to say, “But I’m gonna get you, you bastard, for what you’ve done. The first time, shame on you, the second time shame on me.”
I hope I have not misread or misunderstand what you have said. I have done THAT before and probably not for the last time. Larry
Incidentally, David, did you read that she is encouraging her husband to refuse to resign? What do you make of that? If she is encouraging him, is she implicitly condoning his act? And will he therefore repeat it if he is very careful to make sure he can get away with it?
Ed, I just accept Jesus’s words, all His words, not just those that fit my beliefs. What the CofE teaches is secondary to that.
But what exactly do you think the CoE teaches? Since 1857 it has allowed remarriage after divorce in the cases of adultery. Remarriage is allowed for the innocent party, not the sinning party, of course. Before that time the divorces were called annulments, but the reality is the same thing. Marriages were disolved.
And, of course, since the reigns of both Mary And Elizabeth Tudor are recognized as legitimate, that is, they weren’t the bastard children of illegitimate marriages, there is no way to establish the CofE on anything like a pure view of the indisolvability of marriage
Chris (#53 etc.),
Yes, I’ve already admitted that our difference may be just semantic, but I don’t think so. Personally, I would apply Occam’s Razor here, i.e., that we shouldn’t postulate the existence of unnecessary entities or creat/multiply unnecessary things. I think you creation of two levels of “forgiveness” would fall afowl of that principle. But I’ll let it go here. No need to beat a dead norse.
And Larry Morse (#58),
Perhaps we’ll have to agree to disagree too. But I think you are needlessly cynical. I admit that genuine forgiveness is contary to human nature. But perhaps it would help if I clarify that the kind of forgiveness that I see us as being COMMANDED by Jesus to exemplify is a matter of the will more than a matter of our feelings toward the person who hurt and harmed us. In that sense it’s like the biblical command to love everyone, even our enemies. We don’t have to like them. Perhaps we can’t even stand being around them. But we are still called to treat them in a loving fasion, which is a whole different matter.
Now yes, the Scriptures also talk about forgiving others “from the heart.” But my experience is that we CHOOSE to forgive, and eventually the feelings follow.
But as for your question about Mrs. Spitzer urging her husband not to quit, that’s a comples issue and could involve many contributing factors (including her own interests, e.g., not wanting to see him so disgraced, not wanting to face the financial uncertainty and loss, or to have to endure the public shame herself and so on). Many women in public life have made the same decision. It doesn’t necessarily mean she condones his treachery, and it certainly doesn’t mean that Gov. Spitzer will feel emboldened to think he could get away with it again.
Just look at what happened in the recent case of former Gov. McGreevy in NJ. His numb, devastated wife also stood beside him when he made the public announcement that he was resigning and that he was really gay. But that didn’t mean that she condoned his action. She was still in shock, and after all, that’s the “expected” thing for wives of high political figures to do.
But she later came out of denail and was absolutely furious at him. And she is fighting him tooth and nail in court in the divorce proceedings and she has written a “tell all” memoir or expose that bitterly attacks him as the unrepentant moral scumbag that he is. So I wouldn’t read too much into whatever the news is reporting that Mrs. Spitzer is currently saying. It still may not have hit home yet with full force for her.
The following analysis is particularly insightful, and gives added significance to comment #28 above:
David, I think Occam’s Razor is on my side in this. If the wife refuses to take the adulterous husband back the marital relationship is not restored. She is not reconciled to him in a marital fashion. It is overly complex to claim this reality and still say that she has forgiven him here. What kind of forgiveness does not restore the relationship?