Weiner Scandal and Varying Perspectives on Morality

7 Jun

New York Rep. Anthony Weiner’s twitter photo scandal has become a major feature in the news recently.

In an attempt to share a lewd picture of himself with a woman, Weiner accidently posted the image on his twitter account. His initial response to the image was that it had been posted by a hacker as a crude joke.  However, after persistent questioning by the press and a breakdown in his lies, Rep. Weiner admitted that the photo was his, and that he had been carrying on various online/phone relationships with women he’d met mostly on facebook.

Now, in the fallout of his admission, we have the chance to see the wide range of perspectives regarding Weiner’s actions. In an article from CNN, the following comments were made by constituents of Rep. Weiner:

“I think of him as a different person. He betrayed his wife. You have to think before you make a mistake.”

“He would have had my vote. Not now because of the way he disgraced his family.”

“I’m glad he’s not resigning. What he does on his personal time is his business.”

“He’s a human being. He made a mistake.”

I think these comments do well to give us an idea of the polarization of the public’s opinion on a moral issue such as this.  What stands out to me is the contradictions that stand out from both perspectives. On the one hand, you have those who immediately judge Rep. Weiner and his actions as atrocious and unforgivable. And on the other, you have those who downplay the severity of the issue as it pertains to the ethics of a government official and the impact such actions have the individuals involved.

From a Christian perspective, this is very important to think about. (Dr. Albert Mohler had some interesting thoughts in his program, The Briefing, regarding the irrationality of sin which you can listen to here).  If we evaluate the opinions above, we come to the conclusion that neither of them are truly sound or satisfying.

When it comes to the judgmental, condemning perspective of the first two remarks, we are faced with arrogance and hypocrisy. It is easy to condemn another’s faults (especially those of public figures like Weiner) and overlook the fact that we ourselves have done things that might well be condemned by another. The arrogance of this view comes out in the implied statement: You are a worse person than I because of what you’ve done.  As for the second perspective, which downplays the issue and the consequences of the actions, there is a sense of humility.  It is summed up in the words, “He’s a human being.” Yet, this view is just as arrogant because behind the veneer of humility is the belief that those who hold people to certain moral/ethical standards are wrong and arrogant.  Yet, if the people who hold this view were those who were victimized, would they still hold such a view? And have they given serious thought to the idea that he represents them; their beliefs, views and values? Not only this, but such a perspective fails to provide a grounds for any type of true justice, whether in a case such as Rep. Weiner’s scandal or any other, such as that of IMF Director Dominique Strauss-Kahn. Where do we draw the line.

As Christians, we need to hold both views, meshing them together according to the truthfulness of God’s Word and the Gospel.  We need to realize that we are all sinners, having broken the law that God has given us.  Therefore, we are not in a position to judge those who are not a part of the body of Christ.  We must, however, also remember the fact that God does, in fact, have just requirements for us and we are not merely excused for them.  We must recognize the need for justice and standards of moral ethical behavior. Yet, in the end, all of these things point us to the fact that we, of ourselves, will inevitably break the Law and fail to meet God’s standards. More than anything, we must remember  that despite our failings, our sin and misconduct against God, it is the life, death and resurrection of Jesus Christ that provides the means for being forgiven and reconciled to God, as well as receiving the hope of eternal life and the joy that comes through Christ and His Kingdom reign.

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