Every day the headlines record another personal tragedy in some prominent person’s life. This week, the police chief in Alexandria, Virginia, with nearly 20 years of exemplary service was forced to resign when his car crashed and a full two hours later, four sobriety tests revealed a blood alcohol content nearly twice the legal limit. His resignation, rendered with “a great deal of humility and remorse,” according to an article in the Washington Examiner, cost him “significant” benefits compared to what he would have received if he had worked another seven months to reach 20 years of service. The financial costs, though, are puny compared to the damage to his reputation and the devastation to his family.
David P. Baker, a handsome, distinguished-looking, prematurely grey-haired man, had achieved his dreams of the top slot in his chosen profession in his chosen city. Like South Carolina Governor Mark Sanford, New York Governor Eliot Spitzer, and New Jersey Governor James McGreevey –– the list goes into the hundreds –– Baker threw away a life-time of achievement and well-earned respect for the “pleasure of sin for a season.”
But prominent persons aren’t the only ones who pay an exorbitant price for personal transgressions. All of us have acquaintances, friends or relatives –– maybe even we ourselves ––who are destroying their lives in all the myriad ways that the human person is capable of self-destruction: drug addiction, drunkenness, gambling and infidelity are only the most obvious and public ones.
The sophisticated ones among us claim that evil does not exist, that sin is an outdated, passé concept and the culture war is the figment of somebody’s imagination. Yet the real world, where you and I live, is a mural that displays all the appalling results of sin and evil. It is impossible to avoid seeing the “wages of sin” and the fallen nature of human beings. To those who look and listen, the evidence of the “seeds of ruin” is as apparent as are the “untimely victims.” Truly, as the Scriptures say, “the worm dieth not.”