If the sad saga of Anthony Weiner — or even of the release of Sarah Palin’s emails, or, to take it further, the activities of Wikileaks, tells us anything useful, quite apart from the volatility of the public attention-span and the inconsistency of displays of political moral indignation, it is this:
There is no such thing as privacy. Take it as given that the most embarrassing thing you ever posted will show up, somewhere, some time. In this way the Internet fulfills the prophetic word spoken by Jesus: “There is nothing covered that will not be revealed, nor hid that will not be known.” Scripture talks of a coming day of judgment when “the secrets of men’s hearts are revealed” … but for those of us who long for that day of revealing, why should we wish for this aspect of it to be delayed?
Only God, of course, “searches the heart” and thus knows all secrets; including their contexts, the motivations, the extenuating circumstances (if any), the reasons why; all of those things that make for endless blabber when somebody famously gets caught.
And only in the sight of God, who fortunately is inclined toward mercy, can we stand ready to be judged with total honesty, making no excuses. For this we have the example of the Biblical King David, who made his confession (after he was caught), took some severe consequences (though he kept his job) and continued to show himself a man after God’s own heart, precisely because he did not persist in his wrongdoing, and made no excuse for it. It was no doubt, his own painful experience that empowered him to say, “Whoever covers his sins shall not prosper; but whoever confesses and forsakes them shall find mercy.” Confessing is a near-term action, and a painful thing to witness, as we all know from the past couple of weeks; forsaking, now that is a lifelong, ongoing project. And while mercy comes from God, and is enjoined upon those who trust him (….”and what does the Lord require of you, but to do justice, and to love mercy,” etc), it is a rare and elusive thing when it comes to public and political opinion.