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June 8, 2011

The Congressman and Forgiveness

by Rev. A. J. Iovine

Congressman Anthony Weiner is a dope. His use of Twitter to send rather inappropriate messages and photographs to women all across the county is adultery. Just because there was not a physical relationship doesn’t mean that adultery did not occur for to “cheat” on one’s spouse does not just include the physical act of sex. Coaching women to lie to cover-up this weird and stupid scandal is equally moronic.

The Congressman is an idiot.

He did plenty of odd Twitter things and deserves all the heaping of scorn and embarrassment he’s brought upon himself. The New York tabloids have had a field day with Weiner since this “scandal” broke. When I watched the latest Weiner news last night, I couldn’t help but cringe thinking what the New York Post or the New York Daily News were going to use as their headlines this morning.

We all feel for his wife who has been unwittingly dragged into this sad case because her husband is a walking idiot. She just wanted to love her husband “till death parts them,” and now the Congressman has made this vow a very big part of what will happen to them over the coming weeks and months.

Should the Congressman resign?

It’s not for this pastor to say. In politics, when you make a dumb move, you pay for it politically. As a conservative and as someone who takes this moral stuff seriously, yes, I think Congressman Weiner should resign his office. He is never going to be an effective representative for the people of his district ever again, for when his colleagues look at him, they will think of the Tweeted photograph of the Congressman’s penis in his underwear. They will think of that photograph of a skinny, shirtless man with that blank look on his face. And they will hear the denials, the vicious attacks on reporters and on Andrew Breitbart, a conservative blogger who was 100 percent right on this matter all the way along.

God tells us that we must forgive, especially those who repent. At his Monday press conference, he said he was wrong, that he lied, that he asked for forgiveness from his wife and those he wronged. He pleaded with his constituents to forgive him. In a Godly sense, his outward appearance was one of repentance. He choked and teared up. He realized he made an egregious error that could not only cost him his job in Congress, but also his marriage.

And as Christians, we forgive those repent. Even though he did nothing wrong to us individually, we still forgive when the repentant ask for it.

This is where the great sinful challenge of real life comes in — can we forgive someone who did something so stupid? Will we be able to stop making jokes at his expense? This is part of the ‘granting forgiveness’ process since we, when we forgive someone in the way God wants us to forgive, must forget their error and never bring it up.

We can’t read the Congressman’s mind or heart. On Monday afternoon, he could have put on the one of the greatest performances in political history, lying his way through his question and answering session, all in an effort to stem the political tidal wave that was coming over him. But none of us can read hearts and minds. He could have been telling the truth.

So, we Christians forgive him. It doesn’t mean that the political consequences for his actions should be ignored since we “let bygones be bygones.” He did something wrong, something dramatically stupid, and needs to pay the political price for his actions.

This issue is now between him and his wife — we shouldn’t speculate on what the future holds for both of them. They are not Christians and obviously do not hold to the same strict understanding of what a marriage is to God. If they decide to go their separate ways, then we pray for them. Separation and divorce are emotionally destructive to anyone of any religion. But should we speculate on what comes next for both of them? No, since the Congressman repented very publicly on his wrong doing and asked for forgiveness.

And this is yet another example of why keeping to God’s Law is awfully hard. For God tells us that when one repents, one forgives and forgets, just like He does when we come before Him in repentance and plead to have our sins and trespasses washed away. He forgives us our sins through the blood of His Son, Jesus Christ. But most importantly, God forgets our sins and trespasses after He forgives. This is our example for how we forgive in our lives.

Of course, even this pastor has a problem living with this one. I guess I am a repentant sinner, too, in need of forgiveness.

This is one of the reasons I feel we need to revitalize our understanding of Luther’s Small Catechism in our devotional lives. We need to wrestle with these issues in accordance with God’s Word and understanding, showing us that we are all not so good even when we think we are.

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