Kathryn Lopez

Nevada Republican Sen. John Ensign was unfaithful to his wife; there's no excusing broken vows. But the steps he's taken since the story broke on Wednesday provide a reminder that there is a road to redemption in truth. And not just for one U.S. senator and his family, but for American politics. In his public confession and acts of atonement, Ensign has brought a refreshing change to the roster of recent Beltway loose-belt scandals that have hit both sides of the aisle.

In a press conference, Ensign -- allegedly motivated by a blackmail threat - admitted to an affair with an employee. He didn't excuse his misdeed. He said he regretted it. He apologized for it. He said, "It is the worst thing I have ever done in my life." He said that in the wake of the adultery, he and his wife sought counseling, and claimed that their marriage has never been stronger.

The next day, Ensign resigned his leadership post in the Senate. That same day, the media, naturally, was all atwitter. Twitter, too.

That Ensign cheated on his wife wasn't so much the cause of the outrage as was the fact that he had dared to criticize Bill Clinton during the Monica Lewinsky debacle. Ensign said that the president's behavior was "an embarrassing moment for the country."

Well, it was. Ensign's own embarrassing moment doesn't change that.

On MSNBC's "Hardball," host Chris Matthews exposed social conservatives -- Ensign counts himself among us -- as "no different than anybody else." This is not breaking news.

The left-wing blogosphere quickly pounced on Ensign's official remarks regarding the institution of marriage: "Marriage recognizes the ideal of a father and mother living together to raise their children," he said from the Senate floor, in a statement in support of the Federal Marriage Amendment. He said, "Marriage is the cornerstone on which our society was founded," a sacred institution predating our Constitution and government.

Again, a politician's failings do not render all to which he subscribes morally null. The facts remain: marriage is a cornerstone, regardless of the many temptations to violate it. In a bastardized, and by now conventional, view of hypocrisy, it is unacceptable for someone who is not a perfect person to ever make a statement grounded in conscience, morality or natural law.

Presumably, then, all Christians should throw out their Book.

Kathryn Lopez

Kathryn Jean Lopez, editor of National Review Online, writes a weekly column of conservative political and social commentary for Newspaper Enterprise Association.