NOTE: LANGUAGE WARNING
I say this as someone who looked at Senator Ted Cruz (R-TX) as a potential standard-bearer for conservatism. He has an impressive pedigree as a Constitutional attorney and Solicitor General who argued before the Supreme Court, taking cases (such as the Heller case, that the NRA didn’t even want to touch) that were very tough, and won. He is one of the sharpest legal minds, and has a very firm grasp on the issues facing America. He has run as a conservative Christian and has used this appeal as a cornerstone in his politics: trust. To his credit, he has kept his political promises.
At the same time, if this video is any indication, he has infidelities in his past if not his present. And if this is the case, his political career is toast. The only issue is whether this blows up before the convention, or during the fall. And if he has ANY infidelities, then–trust me–they WILL surface at the worst possible time. THAT is why I’m saying that, if he has ANY infidelities, he needs to get out of politics. If that is the case, he needs to think exit strategy.
Still, the larger issue is not political, but rather personal and theological. He has appealed to the voter as an outspoken Christian whose faith has driven his life. Ditto for his wife. Now I realize that everyone–and I DO mean EVERYONE–has baggage. We all sin and come short of the glory. And in the realm of matters of sexual nature, we all have lusts that we must battle daily. Even in marriage.
Adultery, however, is a very big stinkin’ deal. Some would like to dismiss it in Clintonian terms: “it’s only sex!” I had a co-worker dismiss the Clinton scandal in these terms: “People f**k! Get over it.”
Adultery, sadly, is not “just about sex”. Sex, even when “spontaneous”, isn’t really spontaneous. It takes WORK to remove your clothes. It takes WORK to get “hot and bothered”. It takes WORK to override Biblical warnings if you are a Christian. It never “just happens”. Even if a scantily-clad hottie walked into my office, totally naked, and shut the door, and said, “Let’s do it!” I would have to USE MY HEAD (not the smaller one) to MAKE A CONSCIOUS DECISION to commit treason against my wife.
In all likelihood, I would throw some very hard objects at her, and tell her, “GET THE F**K OUT OF MY OFFICE RIGHT THE F**K NOW!!!” And I would follow that up with a trip to the HR director’s office to file a sexual harassment complaint. I would also hire an attorney and look into whistleblower status if I received any backlash.
(Yeah, I don’t expect anyone to appreciate my use of blunt language, but I’m making a larger point here: if you’re going to invite me to commit treason against my wife, then all pleasantries go out the window. That’s non-negotiable. I don’t care who you are. I’ll take a little backlash over a few F-bombs over the fallout of an affair 100% of the time. A couple years ago, when I reviewed the book, A Twisted Faith, I gave attention to the case of Annette Anderson, a married mother of four who was propositioned by one of the pastors, Nick Hatcheney. Initially, she resisted in a sort of polite fashion, then–over time–capitulated to his advances, engaging in an affair that nearly drove her to suicide before she finally faced the music, found repentance, and walked a long road to restoration. At one point, after she had broken things off with Nick, he propositioned her again. Her response: “F**k off!” She probably found that liberating. She probably wishes today that she had told him that the FIRST time he propositioned her.)
That brings me to the latest case: gospel singer Israel Houghton.
Why do I include him in the same discussion as Cruz?
Assuming that Cruz has been unfaithful–and his evasive answers tell me that he likely has–then shame on him for betraying the trust of the very Christians to whom he appealed as a Bible-believing conservative. Shame on him for putting himself in such a position that, when things hit the fan, it will result in a fascist becoming President and further giving Christians a black eye. If Cruz has been unfaithful, then ANY future would-be Christian conservative in the public arena is going to be painted with the same brush. If he has been unfaithful, then shame on him for taking on a high-profile position when his life was not in order.
Ditto for Houghton. As a Gospel singer, and as a minister at a mega-church, he was in a position of leadership, and his high-profile status brought attention to his Christianity and also his promotion of such. His admitted indiscretions are yet another black eye for the Church. Shame on him for taking on a high-profile position when his life was not in order.
Leadership is not for the weak. And if you are a Christian, past infidelities are a form of weakness. If you assert your past early in your political career, and subsequently live up to your promises, then that is one thing. But burying things, only to have them surface later, will only damage your credibility.
If you aspire to church leadership, then adultery–particularly during your Christian life–is, in my book, a disqualifier under 1 Timothy 3. If you have broken your wedding vows, then a reasonable case can be made that you will never be “above reproach”. Some may disagree, but my point is valid in that the bar for ministers is a very high one and adultery makes that bar potentially insurmountable.
Still, if you are in a position of leadership, it is on you to honor your most fundamental promises. If you are married, that means the one you make on your wedding day. If you cannot do that, then it is fair to question your character.