Had New York Governor Eliot Spitzer reached out for the Gideon Bible in his fancy Washington, D.C., hotel room instead of, allegedly, a high-priced prostitute, he might have been forewarned of the dangers in such liaisons.
Such as: "A prostitute is a deep pit; an adulterous woman is treacherous. She hides and waits like a robber, looking for another victim who will be unfaithful to his wife." (Proverbs 23:27-28) And: "For the lips of an immoral woman drip honey, and her mouth is smoother than oil; but in the end she is bitter as wormwood, sharp as a two-edged sword. Her feet go down to death, her steps lay hold of hell." (Proverbs 5:3-5)
But who speaks of such things today, a day in which, as C.S. Lewis wrote, "We laugh at honor and are shocked to find traitors in our midst."
Today's "morality" knows none of this. It is best summed up in what Spitzer's brother, Daniel Spitzer, a neurosurgeon, told The Wall Street Journal: "If men never succumbed to the attractions of women, then the human species would have died out a long time ago." Even the most ardent secularist would likely not defend prostitution as the best method of perpetuating the human race, when marriage and fidelity seem to have done a pretty fair job of achieving that objective over several millennia.
If Spitzer is guilty of what has been alleged, he not only broke the laws of man and of God, but also violated a public trust and dishonored his oath of office. In his brief statement, he alluded to failing to live up to a standard he set for himself. But if right and wrong are to be determined solely by an individual's standards for himself - or herself - then the prostitute, who clearly has a much lower standard, would be no more guilty of lawbreaking and immoral behavior than Spitzer. This attitude is reflected at the end of the Book of Judges: "in those days there was no king in Israel; everyone did what was right in his own eyes." (Judges 21:25)
Many commentators are indicting Spitzer mostly for hypocrisy, but aren't we the real hypocrites? We watch and tolerate the most salacious television programs; we produce soft pornography to sell in grocery stores, displaying it on checkout line shelves, we post hardcore porn on the Internet; we feature on magazine covers women who have had babies with sperm donors they call boyfriends, but do not marry them; girls are sexualized at ever-younger ages; we equate shacking up with marriage as equal moral choices and then express shock when members of both political parties behave in ways that emulate what they see the rest of us tacitly approving.
Another thing: shouldn't there be a law against the injured wife appearing with her husband at these media events? She should be telling him, "Look, buster, you have humiliated yourself, you are not humiliating me. Go out there and deal with it on your own."
Did Spitzer think nothing of his wife while allegedly having sex with prostitutes? Did the faces of his three daughters never come to mind? How would he like it if his daughters were prostitutes? The prostitutes are someone's daughters. Did he not think their parents' hearts broke when they learned their daughters were selling their bodies for cash, bodies they used to cradle in their arms?
Culture once produced gobs of shame for people who engaged in such activities, but no more. Now the question becomes whether such laws are outmoded and if it should be considered a private matter between Spitzer and his family. This is the legacy of the Bill Clinton years. "It was only sex," cried Clinton's defenders of his tryst with Monica Lewinsky. It was no one else's business, except his family. Each time such behavior is excused, we ensure we will get more of it.
There's another verse in that hotel Bible that might have served as a warning to Spitzer and anyone else who might think of behaving in a similar fashion: "be sure your sin will find you out." (Numbers 32:23)
Cal Thomas is co-author (with Bob Beckel) of the book, "Common Ground: How to Stop the Partisan War That is Destroying America".
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