The sacrifices of God are a broken spirit; a broken and contrite heart, O God, you will not despise. Psalm 51:17
Alec Bladwin has written a brief, thoughtful essay on the Anthony Weiner scandal.
Don’t be afraid to read it. Or unwilling.
Yes, he is a vegetarian, animal rights activist and a strong supporter of PETA, while you personally probably love a good hamburger.
And yes, he did suggest on Late Night with Conan O’Brien that we should stone those who wanted to impeach Bill Clinton and “go to their homes and kill their wives and their children….for what they’re doing to this country.” But he apologized.
And maybe he is just being nice because he wants the job Wiener wanted, as mayor of New York City.
But the man understands sin.
He says Weiner is (just) a modern human being and he doesn’t want to cast stones or anything. Me neither.
But Baldwin is on to something.
For high functioning men like Weiner and other officials who have lived through such scandals, who are constantly on the go, that leaves one tried and true source of a reliable high. The affirmation that comes when someone lets you know they want to sleep with you. Or even cyber-sleep with you.
Wait, that’s not the part I agree with.
Porn is essentially two dimensional. One sees and hears. Internet sexting can be perceived as three dimensional by adding the component of “feel”, regardless of how cheap and unearned those feelings are.
That makes sense.
But here is the thing. He says:
We tell ourselves that these devices help us communicate more effectively. What they actually do is allow us to bypass the person lying right next to us, across the room from us or at an airport heading home to us, in order to meet our immediate, even inconvenient, needs.
OK, so he doesn’t understand sin theologically. He is not concerned with how we offend the righteousness of God.
But Baldwin does know there is something wrong when our selfish indulgence and impatience cause us to defraud others, when, as he says, we bypass those we love because of our “immediate, even inconvenient, need.”
King David understood this when Nathan confronted him about Bathsheba. There were consequences to pay, throughout the history of his realm.
And I have to say, his repentance seems more real. You can read it in Psalm 51. David understood what Weiner can only faintly grasp. There is no such thing as private sin.
Sin destroys those we care about, and even those we don’t really care about. It robs them of our sacrifice and our service. It alienates us from a holy God. It requires us to cry out for mercy and seek renewal and testify of grace.
I don’t think Weiner understands this yet, although I hope he will.
And Baldwin is wrong on this point. Weiner’s problem is not that he is a modern man, or even a high functioning man.
He is just a selfish, impatient man.
And he needs God’s mercy and his grace to get over it.
He’ll have to ask for it.
Like the rest of us.