Just watched the Anthony Weiner press conference. Its official. I am embarrassed to be a man.
It all started I suppose with Tiger Woods. Every golf fan remembers where they were when they first heard that Eldrick, the famous Buick pitchman, was a serial adulterer. Although he was married to a former Swedish model and was the father of two beautiful children it just wasn’t enough. He was spending his down time chasing around with trailer-park porn stars, women who were all 10’s on the skank-meter when he had the fabulously gorgeous Elin waiting for him at home. But there he was laying unconscious in the street after wrapping his Escalade around a tree in his front yard trying to get away from an enraged wife waving a nine iron with murderous intent, a Buick nowhere in sight.
Then there was John Edwards, he of the perfect hair and the “Two Americas” stump speech. Much of America held him in high regard after the announcement that his wife Elizabeth had terminal cancer but would soldier on with her husband while he campaigned for the presidency because of how much she loved him and believed in him. Although the adoration wasn’t enough to trump America’s fling with Barack Obama, it did endear him to millions. Then came word that the slimy senator had a love child with a campaign worker, a relationship that had thrived before and after the discovery of Elizabeth’s illness. Two Americas, indeed. Dude wasn’t even allowed to attend her funeral.
Of course, any discussion of male infidelity wouldn’t be complete without mention being made of Gov. Mark Sanford of the great state of South Carolina. After becoming somewhat of a star in the Republican party for his conservatism and “family values” reputation, it was discovered that while on a trade mission to South America the Governor had met the love of his life. Meanwhile back in Columbia, the wife of his life and the four boys she had brought into this world were devastated and his career was over. As soon as he left office in January of 2011, he was spotted on a beach in Rio with his new soul-mate. Which caused me to wonder why it is that married men always seem to find their soul-mates in warm climates. Why does no one come back from a trip to a plastics warehouse in Idaho to announce to their wife that they have met someone new?
Speaking of slimy Republicans, just before announcing his candidacy for President Newt Gingrich felt the need to clear up this business about him cheating on his wife and forcing her to sign the divorce papers while she was dying from cancer in a hospital room some years back. Gingrich explained, “ in the past there have been times when I loved my country so much that I worked too hard and things happened that were not appropriate”. So I guess that means that he cheated on his dying wife…with Uncle Sam. How’s that for a family value?
Which brings me to the ill-named congressman from New York. After a picture of his crotch was published on twitter Mr. Weiner spent 10 days denying any connection to the photograph, blaming it first on an anonymous hacker and then on a practical joke gone bad. For 10 days the good congressman (if you will pardon the expression) castigated anyone with the temerity to question his version of events. But by yesterday it had become clear to Weiner that the game was up. There were more pictures and more women coming forward with lurid details of his depravity. And so we were all treated to the smartest guy in the room having to face the music on live television. Riveting. This newly married progressive champion admitting to being a pervert. Would he resign? No. You see, he hadn’t “broken any laws”. I for one am glad he cleared that up.
I heard a sports show host the other day say that we fans have no right to criticize athletes or other famous and rich men who get caught cheating on their wives because the only reason the rest of us don’t cheat is because we don’t have as many opportunities. If we had hot women throwing themselves at us in fancy hotels in exotic locals without our wives in attendance we too would stray with equal frequency. Maybe so.
Maybe he was right, but if he is what does that say about us as men? Are we just dogs with clothes? I have been married for 27 years and have never been unfaithful, but maybe its just because I haven’t had enough opportunity. I like to think that the reason I haven’t had opportunity is because I have constantly strived to avoid temptation. I don’t put myself in situations where I might have to discover how weak I am.
Its not just opportunity. There’s something else. Something that’s absent from all of the stories that I have mentioned above. Shame.
For the past 13 years I have taught scores of high school and college kids the basics of Christianity. Hundreds of students. Many of them have for whatever reason held me in high regard and continue to long after I taught them. They admire me, want to be like me. The guys want to marry someone like my wife. Many of the girls wish their fathers were more like me. For better or for worse I am a role model to them. If I cheated on my wife all of the good will built into the lives of everyone of those kids would be wiped out. More importantly, I have two kids of my own. How could I possibly face them, look them in the eyes and admit that I had betrayed their mother? And what of the vows themselves? I spoke solemn words in front of my family and friends and God himself. Do those words mean anything? Why don’t the Anthony Weiners and the Mark Sanfords and the Tiger Woods of this world slink away in shame hiding their faces from us? How can they call a press conference? What has become of us? What has become of men?
On the odd chance that my pastor reads this, if you have the guts...this might be a good sermon topic.