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Scandals related to the sexual misconduct of public figures are nothing new. In fact these stories can hardly be called shocking anymore due to their regularity. So, when I read the news Thursday about former U.S. Senator John Edwards I was more disappointed than I was surprised.
The story of Edwards’ affair is old news. What has recently surfaced is his admission that he fathered a child as a result of this affair. Reading the report of his admission, I was particularly struck by this statement:
“It was wrong for me ever to deny she was my daughter and hopefully one day, when she understands, she will forgive me…To all those I have disappointed and hurt, these words will never be enough, but I am truly sorry.”
I have no intention to judge the sincerity of his apology or to make this into an issue about politics. The point I want to make is that news stories like this provide us with a representative sample of what is happening in almost every town in America. The obvious difference is that most extramarital affairs will never be made public like this.
Stories like these are good reminders to myself and to anyone else who reads this that every choice we make has lasting consequences. The good choices we make can be a blessing to many, but the sinful choices we make can cause irreversible damage.
We all sin, and the good news of Jesus Christ is that in him there is grace and forgiveness and reconciliation with God (Romans 3:23-24; 5:9-11). However, the consequences of our sinful choices remain no matter how hard we try to reverse them.
I can’t imagine being in Edward’s shoes, having to explain to his daughter one day about this “relationship”, about why he felt it was necessary to deny his paternity, and to advise her to “do as I say, not as I do.” It is no wonder that so many times the sins of one generation are repeated with the next.
The moral of Edwards’ story goes far beyond “look before you leap.” Instead, we are better off not leaping at all. We are better off if we look for and follow “the way of righteousness” (Psalm 1:6).