Monday, June 29, 2009

God's Plan for Mark Sanford

Being an atheist, I don't normally discuss God's plans. Given that there is no God, there can't be a God's plan.

It's something about the laws of physics.

But Mark Sanford is so enthusiastic about God's plans that it's hard to talk about Mark Sanford without talking about God.

So, I'm going to pretend there is a god so I can discuss God's plans for Mark Sanford and why they might be different from Mark Sanford's idea of God's plan.

And why my idea of God's plan for Mark Sanford is closer to the spirit of Jesus than Sanford's own idea.

Mark Sanford's idea is that his on-going disgrace over his affair with Maria Chapur will allow him to "walk in the spirit of humility" while serving as South Carolina governor and in fact make him a more successful governor.
Their belief was that if I walked in with a real spirit of humility then this last legislative term could well be our most productive one - and that outside this term, I would ultimately be a better person and of more service in whatever doors God opened next in life.
Sanford had attempted to refuse money from the Obama economic recovery package, but had been defeated in his efforts by both the Republican-dominated South Carolina legislature and the courts. Sanford's friends--and he completely agrees with them--suggested to him that Sanford lost the stimulus battle because of the same "sin of pride" that had led to the affair.
A long list of close friends have suggested otherwise - that for God to really work in my life I shouldn’t be getting off so lightly [by resigning]. While it would be personally easier to exit stage left, their point has been that my larger sin was the sin of pride. They contended that in many instances I may well have held the right position on limited government, spending or taxes - but that if my spirit wasn't right in the presentation of those ideas to people in the General Assembly, or elsewhere, I could elicit the response that I had at many times indeed gotten from other state leaders.
In other words, Sanford thinks he didn't lost the stimulus battle because refusing the money would have harmed South Carolina's educational system. He lost because he wasn't in the "right spirit" to be convincing to his political allies and that God was somehow ensuring that Sanford failed until he got into the right spirit. Now that Sanford has been "humbled" by his affair, he'll be walking in the right spirit and will be in a position to be more successful.

Sanford doesn't quite say this, but he seems to be thinking that God's plan was to humble Mark Sanford so he could be bigger and more successful. The affair was God's plan. Getting caught was God's plan. Looking like an idiot was God's plan.

And it would all make Mark Sanford more successful now or in the future.

In other word, Sanford thinks God is heavily invested in the success of Mark Sanford and is managing Sanford's affairs beautifully so that Sanford can be successful "the right way."

God! The ultimate career counselor.

But God doesn't work that way, at least according to the New Testament. Here's the money quote from the Luke version of the Sermon on the Mount:
Blessed be ye poor for yours is the kingdom of God. Blessed are ye that hunger now, for ye shall be filled. Blessed are ye that weep now: for ye shall laugh. But woe unto you that are rich! For ye have received your consolation. Woe unto you that are full! For ye shall hunger. Woe unto you that laugh now! For ye shall mourn and wep. Woe unto you, when all men shall speak well of you! For so did their fathers to the false prophets. (Luke 6: 20-24, King James version)
Passages like this are part of the reason I'm an atheist. I believe that those who are depressed, unhappy, grieving, or impoverished should be seen as a blessed part of a community of people who are trying to ease their suffering. But I'm a million miles from thinking that those who "laugh now" or are "well liked" are on the fast track to hell. The pronunciation of damnation on those who laugh now is one of the best reasons I can think of to reject Jesus and Christianity.

But Mark Sanford is a Christian. So, I assume he doesn't have this problem. Sanford's problem is that he's a wealthy, important, guy who men have spoken quite well of until now and God's plan for those kind of guys is to send them directly to hell without letting them pass go or look back like Lott's wife.

At least according to Luke. Or Matthew!

So, what is God's plan for Mark Sanford. Well, it looks like Sanford's going to try to hang onto his job as Governor despite calls for him to resign. I hope he succeeds because I can see the Jesus version of God as having a very important use for Mark Sanford if he remains as Governor.

In other words, God's plan might be to use Mark Sanford to pass health care reform.

There are 45 million uninsured people in the United States.

They need God's help.

If Mark Sanford's religious friends do talk him into remaining as Governor, Sanford's presence will make the Republican Party even less credible than they are now, weaken their resistance to the health care reform package taking shape in Congress, and make it more likely that health care reform will pass this year.

That would help poor people, people suffering from difficult illnesses, people who are afraid of not being able to pay medical bills, people who are struggling with the illnesses of their friends and loved ones, and people who are in grief over recent deaths.

In other words, health care reform will be a blessing for many of the people that the New Testament views as "blessed."

According to the God of the New Testament, Mark Sanford is doomed to rot for eternity.

But if benefitting millions of people through health care reform is part of the plan, who am I to object?

1 comment:

Todd Mayo said...

I could not possibly care less about Sanford's personal life. I don't care about the state of his marriage and it really isn't anyone's business but that of Sanford and his family.
SANFORD, on the other hand seems determined to make it everyone's business. He won't shut up about it. HE seems to WANT a public discussion of his private business. There probably is strategy there but I'm damned if I understand it.
My only GUESS is that all the other Governors who have been caught with their pants down have tucked their tails in and resigned into obscurity. Perhaps Sanford has decided that ANY coverage is better than no coverage. Americans as a whole, even the voters possess notoriously short attention spans, and contrary to the punditry and the Televangilists, voters don't care about their leader's or candidate's sex lives. I don't. This man would never get my support under any circumstances because of his right-wing agenda. I don't like his views but I don't believe he is stupid. Perhaps he thinks addressing this whole thing head on is the only course if he is to have a future in politics. He may be right. In Sanford's case, I hope not.