The saga of South Carolina Gov. Mark Sanford keeps getting stranger. Today we learned that when Sanford ostensibly came clean at his tearful press conference last week that he was, in fact, still lying.
In another tearful talk with the media, Sanford said Maria Belen Chapur wasn’t the only woman he’d “crossed lines” with, though, he claims, she is the only one he had sex with. Sanford also admitted he saw Chapur, whom he called his soul mate, more than he previously claimed.
“This was a whole lot more than a simple affair, this was a love story,” Sanford said. “A forbidden one, a tragic one, but a love story at the end of the day.”
But that’s not what makes today’s Sanford installment so strange. It’s the conclusion to the Associated Press’ story:
In early 2009, after Jenny Sanford discovered the affair, the couple went into counseling. She has told The Associated Press that he asked her several times to visit the mistress and she refused.
But the governor claims he wanted to end the affair in person and, with his wife’s permission, went to New York with a “trusted spiritual adviser” serving as chaperone. The three went to church and dinner together and parted ways the same night.
But he visited Chapur again in Argentina on June 18, the trip that brought the whole affair to light.
Now, I’ve never had an affair, so I don’t know how these things are supposed to work. (To my wife: I never will.) But I’m pretty sure the way these things end is a bit different than dating. Just because Sanford and Chapur had had five romantic rendezvouses instead of four doesn’t mean he is obligated to call it quits in person. Frankly, I think St. Paul would direct Sanford to man up, make a clean break and not be such a fool as to spend one more dinner with temptation.
These latest revelations will no doubt make for good fodder for the late night talk shows. That’s Sanford’s problem.
But what really irked me about the AP story is how casually the reporter mentions that Sanford traveled to New York with a “trusted spiritual adviser” and how the three — counselor and adulterers — went to church together. And that’s all the reader gets.
We’re not told why they went to church together or where or, most importantly, whether this is a common thing for Christians to do when they are repenting of past sin and, in this case, ending an adulterous affair.
Let me answer that last question: It’s not.