Pretty much everyone who follows politics, even casually, knows that yet another GOP politician on the national scene has met his political demise at the hands of a sex scandal. Republican Representative Mark Souder has owned up to an affair with one of his aides. Now in all fairness, if fairness is even justified here,Mark Souder is by no means the first, and I'm sure he won't be the last, prominent Republican to fall prey to the allure of extra-marital sex.
The list of Republican politicians with sullied names from sex scandals is lengthy and the past few years have offered up their fair share of cringe-inducing fiascos. Every scandal gradually fades away, but the tarnish remains on the reputation of Republicans, especially those who profess "family values" and stand up against homosexual marriage. When these Republicans who are supposedly moral exemplars fall, it hurts not only their political careers, but also the pro-family causes that they so adamantly supported.
Mark Foley was the Republican congressman from Florida who championed changes to federal sex offender laws that would be make the government even tougher on sex offenders. Bush signed the changes in to law in 2006, and that same year Foley was caught sending sexually suggestive messages to teenage boys serving as congressional pages.
Another Republican, former Senator Larry Craig, who incidentally had a strong anti-homosexual marriage voting record, became the butt of late night show jokes for weeks after he was caught soliciting sex in a airport bathroom. Not content to merely fade into the background, Craig continued to serve as Senator after pleading guilty to the charge.
Had enough of the GOP "family values" hypocrisy yet? Well there's more.
More recently, Nevada senator John Ensign, whom many thought had a legitimate shot at the presidency, admitted to carrying on an affair with a married staffer who worked for his campaign. Possibly the biggest hypocrite of the bunch, Ensign remarked after the Larry Craig sex scandal that Craig should resign. Speaking about the possibility of Craig resigning, Ensign said, "I wouldn’t put myself hopefully in that kind of position, but if I was in a position like that, that’s what I would do." In other words, if I'm caught in a sex scandal, I'm going to resign. Well guess what, Ensign got caught in a sex scandal. Did he resign? Nope.
Mark Sanford apparently got a little antsy as governor of South Carolina. The pro-family candidate who, like Ensign, was a viable option for the GOP nomination in 2012, admitted to having an affair. That is, he admitted after first trying to tell several lies to cover his tracks.
Now back to the man of the hour, at least in regards to political sex scandals, Mark Souder. He certainly rivals John Ensign for biggest hypocrite on this list. Souder joined Ensign in criticizing Larry Craig for his sexual misconduct, becoming one of very few House Republicans to call for Craig's resignation. And if that's not enough, Souder had the hutzpah to appear on an interview with his mistress during their affair to preach about abstinence education. It's almost sickening.
Now I'm sure there are a lot Republicans out there right now who would like to point out that the Democrats have had their fair share of sex scandals. And that's true. But here's the difference. The GOP has long championed legislating morality. Republicans have, at least in theory, subscribed to a higher moral standard than their Democratic counterparts. So if any politicians are willing to advocate for higher moral standards, like most of these scandal-riddled Republicans did, then those politicians must be willing to take the fall when they trounce on the very ideals that they espouse.
I grow weary of the constant fingerpointing in politics. Man up, take the blame, and learn from the mistakes. The GOP has a terrible track record of practicing what they preach by keeping sex within the bounds of marriage. Until this changes, Republicans deserve every bit of the criticism they get.
But there's a lesson to be learned from this scandal that transcends politics. If Souder's infidelity does nothing else, it should remind us of the importance of living by our professed moral standards. Sexual sin and other forms of sin can ruin a political career, but more importantly they can ruin a Christian's witness. That is a lesson that we all should take to heart.