2009 will in part be remembered for scandalized politicians and a disgraced sports celebrity. Their fall serves as a warning to us all.
After South Carolina Gov. Mark Sanford went AWOL in Argentina, he confessed on June 24, "I've been unfaithful to my wife. I've let down a lot of people."
Mr. Sanford's Argentine mistress spoke of her sorrow. "(It's) very painful to me, my two children, my entire family and close friends." The governor's wife, Jenny, moved out of the governor's mansion like a refugee with their four sons and filed for divorce.
On Nov. 8, Georgia Speaker of the House Glenn Richardson attempted suicide. He confessed Nov. 13 that he struggled with depression after his "separation and divorce."
Twelve days later, Mr. Richardson's ex-wife, Susan Brown, who divorced him in February 2008, revealed that her then-husband had carried on a "long, intimate relationship" with a lobbyist.
On Dec. 2, Tiger Woods confessed on his Web site, "I have let my family down and I regret those transgressions with all of my heart. I have not been true to my values and the behavior my family deserves."
A few days later, his wife and their two children moved out of their $2.6 million Windermere, Fla., home.
In addition to shame, guilt, and depression, the adulterer suffers other consequences. Mr. Sanford lost any chance of furthering his political career to run for president.
Mr. Richardson forfeited his desire to serve as governor of Georgia and resigned from his powerful and prestigious position in the House. Mr. Woods' honor has been impugned.
Many others are affected by the adulteries, too. The South Carolina House impeachment panel spoke for the citizenry, rebuking Mr. Sanford for bringing "ridicule, dishonor, disgrace and shame on the state, its citizens and the governor's office." Mr. Richardson deceived those legislators who elected him speaker of the House.
And for Mr. Woods, his adultery affected untold thousands, maybe even millions. On Dec. 27, two University of California, Davis, professors released research showing that investors in the nine companies endorsed by the golfer lost up to $12 billion because of the decline in their stocks as a result of his infidelity.
Adultery is costly, painful and destructive. That's why God, in his love and wisdom, gave us the Seventh Commandment, "Thou shalt not commit adultery."
Thoughts of temptation are like birds lighting upon our heads. We might not be able to keep the temptations from crossing our minds, but we can sure keep the birds from building a nest there.
For our own well-being and for the sake of those who love and trust us, shoo them away. Keep the romantic fires burning that brought you together in marriage, making your vow to "forsake all others."
Mutual love and respect sow happiness and joy. Apathy and betrayal reap bitter shame and misery.
The Rev. Dan White is the pastor of North Columbia Church in Appling.