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Decoding Jenny Sanford’s Dog-Whistles

fdl-avatar.jpgJenny Sanford’s statement to the media is one big dog whistle to the fundy faithful. She’s hanging him out to dry, big time, using some heavy guns to do it. She is NOT taking this lying down.

I personally believe that the greatest legacy I will leave behind in this world is not the job I held on Wall Street, or the campaigns I managed for Mark, or the work I have done as First Lady or even the philanthropic activities in which I have been routinely engaged. Instead, the greatest legacy I will leave in this world is the character of the children I, or we, leave behind. It is for that reason that I deeply regret the recent actions of my husband Mark, and their potential damage to our children.

Shorter Jenny: Even though I haven’t been the model of a stay-at-home wife for all my marriage, that’s where my heart is. Too bad that’s not where Mark’s was.

Ouch. That "I, or we" slips the knife quite cleanly between the ribs, doesn’t it?

I believe wholeheartedly in the sanctity, dignity and importance of the institution of marriage. I believe that has been consistently reflected in my actions. When I found out about my husband’s infidelity I worked immediately to first seek reconciliation through forgiveness, and then to work diligently to repair our marriage. We reached a point where I felt it was important to look my sons in the eyes and maintain my dignity, self-respect, and my basic sense of right and wrong. I therefore asked my husband to leave two weeks ago.

Shorter Jenny: I respect marriage, even though he doesn’t. I’ve consistently acted like I respect marriage, even though he didn’t. I believe in reconciliation, forgiveness, and hard work to make marriage work, even though he doesn’t. I think of my sons, even though he doesn’t. So I booted his ass.

This trial separation was agreed to with the goal of ultimately strengthening our marriage. During this short separation it was agreed that Mark would not contact us. I kept this separation quiet out of respect of his public office and reputation, and in hopes of keeping our children from just this type of public exposure. Because of this separation, I did not know where he was in the past week.

Shorter Jenny: I understand discretion and protecting one’s reputation, even though he doesn’t.

Now for the big guns:

I believe enduring love is primarily a commitment and an act of will, and for a marriage to be successful, that commitment must be reciprocal. I believe Mark has earned a chance to resurrect our marriage.

Psalm 127 states that sons are a gift from the Lord and children a reward from Him. I will continue to pour my energy into raising our sons to be honorable young men. I remain willing to forgive Mark completely for his indiscretions and to welcome him back, in time, if he continues to work toward reconciliation with a true spirit of humility and repentance.

Psalm 127 is at the heart of the "Quiverfull" folks — a far right evangelical movement, devoted to extreme patriarchal gender roles, homeschooling, and of course they are against any form of birth control or abortion.

Hauling out Psalm 127 is hitting Mark Sanford across the head with a two by four in evangelical circles. "God gave you these boys as a gift, and you scorned it. You mocked it. You treated them like dirt, and in so doing you treated God like dirt. You didn’t just disrespect me — you disrespected God."

This is a very painful time for us and I would humbly request now that members of the media respect the privacy of my boys and me as we struggle together to continue on with our lives and as I seek the wisdom of Solomon, the strength and patience of Job and the grace of God in helping to heal my family.

Here’s Jenny’s only mis-step, I think. Yes, Solomon is the example of great wisdom, but he also had seven hundred wives and three hundred concubines (see 1 Kings 11) . I’m not sure that’s exactly where she wanted to go.

Even so, asking for Solomon’s wisdom and Job’s patience is another one-two smack at Mark’s head with her Bible.

The only thing missing from the statement is a fine Southern "Bless his heart" to tie it all up with a bow.

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I'm an ordained Lutheran pastor with a passion for language, progressive politics, and the intersection of people's inner sets of ideals and beliefs (aka "faith" to many) and their political actions. I mostly comment around here, but offer a weekly post or two as well. With the role that conservative Christianity plays in the current Republican politics, I believe that progressives ignore the dynamics of religion, religious language, and religiously-inspired actions at our own peril. I am also incensed at what the TheoCons have done to the public impression of Christianity, and don't want their twisted version of it to go unchallenged in the wider world. I'm a midwesterner, now living in the Kansas City area, but also spent ten years living in the SF Bay area. I'm married to a wonderful microbiologist (she's wonderful all the way around, not just at science) and have a great little Kid, for whom I am the primary caretaker these days. I love the discussions around here, especially the combination of humor and seriousness that lets us take on incredibly tough stuff while keeping it all in perspective and treating one another with respect.

And Preview is my friend.