Traditional Christian theology teaches that one must first confess one's sinful nature before God as part of the redemption process. Then another more profound step must be taken before salvation is achieved. The sinner must repent, which means turning away from the attitudes and practices that made the sinner act as he had before.
There is as yet no evidence that Hart has repented. Instead he prefers to indulge in what might be called "immoral" equivalency ("I would not be the first adulterer in the White House," said the candidate of new ideas recently). Such a course assures him of neither theological nor political salvation.
Hart is trying to diminish the impact of his own misbehavior by linking his personal affairs to political and foreign affairs. We are not to consider adultery as being any worse than trading arms for hostages. In fact, the gospel according to Gary Hart says we are to consider it a lesser sin.
Let's put this theory to the test. If given a choice between your spouse breaking his or her marriage vow and the president of the United States breaking his vow not to sell arms to the ayatollah, which would you choose?
Gary Hart-Donna Rice (et al.?), President Reagan-Iran/contra, Attorney General Edwin Meese-Wedtech, Michael Deaver-perjury . . . all have sinned and fallen short, suggests Hart. Yes, but does he mean to suggest that because all make mistakes, there should be no standard and no expectations among the voters that perfection, though unattainable, ought to be the goal? Or, to quote St. Paul, "Should sin abound that grace might even more abound? Heaven forbid!" Hart seems to suggest that we ought to modify Jimmy Carter's question and ask, "Why not the best of the worst?"
Hart borrowed one of Carter's 1976 campaign promises when he said during the Iowa debate that he would never lie to the American people. But he has already broken a promise to at least some of the American people: his wife Lee, the minister who married them and the wedding guests before whom he promised to forsake all others until death did them part. Now Hart wants us to believe in more of his promises. But what evidence is there to renew trust in him?
Hart's view that "all have sinned" is a reference to the New Testament book of Romans, chapter 3, verse 23: "For all have sinned and come short of the glory of God." Hart, though, should look elsewhere for the important follow-up to that acknowledgement.
In John, Chapter 8, Jesus is presented with the "woman taken in adultery." When she acknowledges Him as her Lord, He offers forgiveness and then adds, "Go and sin no more."
This is the missing link in Hart's admission of sin. He has not yet said that he intends to "go and sin no more." If he were to make such a pledge, at least insofar as his marital relations are concerned, and demonstrate his capacity to live by it, the public might again take him seriously. In the absence of such a declaration, his attempt to portray himself as no worse than anyone else might make him feel more comfortable among his fellow sinners in politics, but it won't win him the nomination.