by Ken Gardner

A prominent politician has been forced to resign, accused of visiting prostitutes for years. He’s also been accused of being a hypocrite, as he ran on a platform of integrity and honesty, promising to avoid the scandals that plague so many government leaders.

But you and I are the real hypocrites, writes Cal Thomas, syndicated columnist. We put up with immorality all the time, so why should we be so shocked by what New York Gov. Eliot Spitzer did? Mr. Thomas observes:

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; 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.

He’s right, isn’t he? We’ve become more and more tolerant and accepting of wickedness. We’re even
hesitant to use the word “wickedness”—it seems so out of place, so out of date, so harsh. I suspect in many people’s minds there is no such thing as “wickedness.” Robert Bork, in his book, Slouching Towards Gomorrah, talks about the “Durkheim constant.” “Emile Durkheim, a founder of sociology, posited that there is a limit to the amount of deviant behavior any community can ‘afford to recognize.’” In other words, if there is a great deal of wickedness in our society, we begin to accept some of it as normal, because there’s only so much abnormal behavior we seem to be able to deal with.

Whatever the reason, we do have a tendency to grow tolerant of pervasive immorality. I’m glad there’s at least some people like Cal Thomas and Robert Bork who decry not only the immorality but also our acceptance of it. It’s refreshing that Mr. Thomas quotes three passages of Scripture in his brief column. He said Mr. Spitzer should have reached for the Gideon Bible in his fancy hotel room instead of a high-priced prostitute. If he had, “he might have been forewarned of the dangers in such liaisons.” Mr. Thomas then quoted Proverbs 23:27-28:

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.

And Proverbs 5:3-5:

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.

Mr. Thomas clearly implied that the Bible must be our standard to determine right and wrong (by the way, his editorial was in the Dallas Morning News, if you can believe it!). Mr. Spitzer apologized for not living up to a standard he set for himself. If he has the right to set his own standards, then so does the prostitute and everyone else, and then there is no standard at all and no one is "guilty" of anything! But Mr. Spitzer, Cal Thomas declares, did indeed break the laws of man and of God.

Again, our “tolerant” society is guilty as well. When we excuse sin, we can expect more of it, as Mr.
Thomas notes:

Culture once produced gobs of shame for people who engaged in such activities. Now the question becomes whether such laws are outmoded and if it should be considered a private matter between Mr. Spitzer and his family.

This is the legacy of the Bill Clinton years. Each time such behavior is excused, we ensure we will get more of it.

In the words of C. S. Lewis, “We laugh at honor and are shocked to find traitors in our midst.” When we condone wickedness, there’s sure to be more of it.

One final word. Mr. Spitzer and every other member of our society should heed the words of Moses: “Be sure your sin will find you out” (Numbers 32:23).