Thursday, July 9, 2009

Mark Sanford, King David, and The Trust You Cannot Trust has an interesting post about how South Carolina Governor Mark Sanford compared himself to the adulterous King David from the Bible in his public confession about his own recent marital peccadilloes. Sanford said,

I remain committed to rebuilding the trust that has been committed to me over the next 18 months, and it is my hope that I am able to follow the example set by David in Bible - who after his fall from grace humbly refocused on the work at hand. By doing so, I will ultimately better serve in every area of my life, and I am committed to doing so.

Notice the language about "the trust that has been committed to me." According to, The Trust Committed to Me is also the title of a book that Mark Sanford wrote when he was a member of the U.S. Congress. (Take a look at the book cover photo Sanford uses to beef up his family man bona fides.)

Now that Sanford's King David references have already primed me to look for Biblical references, I've learned that "the trust committed to me" is a reference to 1 Corinthians 9:17 in the New International Version of the Bible. The relevant Biblical verse says:

If I preach voluntarily, I have a reward; if not voluntarily, I am simply discharging the trust committed to me.

By using the phrase "the trust committed to me," Sanford is using a Biblical reference to portray his decision to continue as governor as involuntary. In other words, "It's not me who wants to continue as governor. God wants me to."

The disturbing implications of Sanford's King David mentality are best explained by the author Jeff Sharlet on a recent broadcast of Fresh Air. When asked about why Sanford referred to King David in his speech divulging his adulterous relationship, Sharlet put it in the context of Mark Sanford's membership in the elite Christian Right group, The Fellowship, also known as the C Street group (because of its location in Washington, DC). According to Sharlet, Doug Coe, the leader of the Fellowship, once told his followers in the Fellowship that King David was a horribly immoral man, but that King David had attained greatness, because he was chosen by God. Sanford's behavior and language after the disclosure of his affair suggests that he similarly feels he is chosen by God.

Interestingly, Richard Silverstein's Tikun Olam blog has the best retort to Mark Sanford. If Mark Sanford is King David, doesn't that make his Argentinian "mistress" his Bathsheba? If that's the case, shouldn't Sanford pair off with his Bathsheba, as King David of the Bible did, instead of using his estranged wife to revitalize his family values credentials?

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