Sunday, September 30, 2007

Giuliani and the woman taken in adultery

As readers of this blog will know, I have been keeping an eye out for the way the Giuliani campaign will handle his three marriages in light of "family values" notions of the religious right.

In an interview with David Brody of the Christian Broadcast Network posted on line on Friday (I found only this video version), it turns out that Giuliani has a special affinity for the story of Jesus and the woman taken in adultery in John's gospel.

"I'm guided very, very often about, `Don't judge others, lest you be judged,'" Giuliani told CBN interviewer David Brody. "I'm guided a lot by the story of the woman that was going to be stoned, and Jesus put the stones down and said, 'He that hasn't sinned, cast the first stone,' and everybody disappeared.

"It seems like nowadays in America, we have people that think they could've passed that test," he said. "And I don't think anybody could've passed that test but Jesus."

The AP points out some differences between Giuliani's version and the biblical text:

In the New Testament story, related in the Gospel of John, Jesus does not actually hold stones. The Pharisees bring Jesus a woman charged with adultery, reminding him the punishment for adultery is stoning. They are testing Jesus in an effort to charge him with breaking the law.

The Gospel reads: "But when they continued asking him, he straightened up and said to them, 'Let the one among you who is without sin be the first to throw a stone at her.'

"... And in response, they went away one by one, beginning with the elders."

The Daily News puts it this way:-

Rudy Giuliani has a response for critics who find fault in his personal life: "He that hasn't sinned, cast the first stone."

I'd like to know which aspects of his life Giuliani regards as sinful. Or is this line just a useful response to silence critics? It avoids specific details of his personal life including his divorce from second wife Donna Hanover.

Here's how the LA Times describes it: Giuliani riveted New York City when, while still mayor, he announced during a 2000 news conference that his second marriage was over -- before telling his then-wife, Donna Hanover. Hanover later asked a judge to bar Giuliani from bringing his girlfriend (and now wife) to the New York mayor's official residence, Gracie Mansion, while the family still lived there.

According to the LA times, he's made inroads into the gender gap since June. A Gallup Poll released Friday shows a radical shift in the landscape, with Giuliani enjoying slightly more support among women than men, 34% to 31%.

Meantime, the Wall Street Journal just thinks that Guiliani is weird.


Julie said...

I find it interesting that Guiliani chose a story about an adulterer. Does he think that he is an adulterer? Or does he just think other people think that?

Frankly, it's not a bad strategy. This is one of the things that I find so interesting about American politics. All of the candidates make such a heroic effort to appear perfect - the perfect family, the perfect faith life, etc. Rather than just acknowledging that no one is perfect and that they have occasionally been less than perfect themselves, they spin every event in their lives to look 'perfect.' It is sort of interesting to have a candidate remind the religious community that perfection was not a requirement for Jesus and maybe it shouldn't be for a potential political candidate.

Covenanter said...

Not that conservative Christians should eschew additional reminders from tainted messengers with ulterior motives, but we do get reminded every time we pray "forgive we forgive others" that we may not demand morally perfect political candidates.

(Taking issue with Julie however, God does always and justly require perfection. Thankfully, he imputes Jesus' to whomever repents and believes in him. I’ll leave more about alien righteousness to the Good professor.)

That said, I don’t think conservatives' concerns about Rudy's wedding habit stems from our graceless insistence on his perfection or our being unjustly judgmental. Giuliani’s campaign and the media (even conservative Sean Hannity) misdiagnose our disappointment with Rudy. We’re not preoccupied with his multiple marriage licenses per se, or even with his lousy marital track record. We just don’t want to hypocritically endorse candidates who display the kind of impenitence or moral insincerity that animated our opposition to the incorrigible Bill Clinton.

What conservatives (religious and/or political) are struggling to avoid is inconsistency. What we’re struggling to remain committed to is reserving our enthusiasm for candidates whose platforms and skills aren’t at odds with, or a substitute for, their convictions and character.

We’re all basket cases, so we don’t deserve Presidents who are paragons of virtue. Is it then hypocritical to promote virtue beyond one’s own attainments? Is there not still something to be said for (more obviously less virtuous) leaders frankly (if not humbly) conceding that (if not specifically how) their own lives have been less than exemplary of (if not at odds with) the high and honorable standards they are commended for championing?

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