Faithful Living: Lessons from the Spitzer affair

By Joan Bay Klope

I had never heard of Eliot Spitzer before this week when I watched him read a carefully scripted announcement to the national media that he would resign his post as governor of New York, effective this coming Monday. Details of his public and private life became national news after allegations surfaced that the 48-year-old Spitzer, known for his corruption-fighting and straight arrow image, had spent thousands of dollars on a call girl at an upscale Washington, D.C. hotel the night before Valentine’s Day.

Seems his tryst had been detected by the FBI, the very agency he used regularly during the eight years he served as New York state’s crime-fighting attorney general.

When the mighty fall there is a loud crash and I heard it, like millions of others. I go to bed too early to watch the late night comedians, but I read their jokes online. I clicked on photos of his wife and their three teenage daughters. I read articles focusing on why people like him — extremely intelligent, wealthy, trained by the best educational institutions, and immensely successful — sometimes sabotage themselves with risky behavior.

We could speculate what this event will do to the development of his three daughters. Or what options his wife, herself an accomplished attorney and admired by family and friends, might now choose as she faces public embarrassment and private anguish not of her own doing.

But all that sidesteps the important lessons for us and takes us off course from what I think God would have us do with their story: learn from it and pray.

So we’re to stay away from prostitutes, you ask? Obviously. But more importantly, open your Bible and see that God addresses this and other such quagmires. His word is alive and sensible and all about today’s issues, not just yesterday’s. If we’re smart, practical, and yes, obedient, we will learn from the experiences of those in the Bible and those whose obliterated private lives and public careers are splashed across the headlines. We will trust God’s word. His cautions. His urgent requests that we understand human nature and use His strength to steer clear of avoidable tragedies.

He’ll even give us strategies for how to use His strength.

Next, I think we should pray for the Spitzer family. I know, there are so many people to pray for and they’ve got all that money and support of their own. But to not pray for them misses the point: If we pray, we will grow ourselves and open the door for God’s intervention. Goodness knows, the Spitzers need Him.

We need Him.

So let’s pray that we learn how to forgive those who hurt us as well as that smart, wealthy, famous and oh, so flawed Eliot Spitzer. He needs forgiveness right now, even though he brought all of this upon himself. Let’s pray that God teaches us how to forgive and how to live beyond experiences that threaten life as we’ve known it to be. Prayer will move us away from being curious and over to being truly caring. Prayer tells God we’re ready to grow and love more deeply.

Let’s pray next that this family and those feeling personally betrayed by Spitzer’s actions gain courage … courage to make the best decisions, regardless how those decisions feel. New York has lost a governor; we don’t want three girls to lose partnered parents. It should be our prayer that everyone involved with this man gain courage they didn’t know they possessed. After all, to live well is to live courageously and this will not be the only time courage must be called upon. If they will allow it, God will teach wondrous lessons through this situation.

Finally, let’s pray Eliot Spitzer can discover roads of redemption and be brave and willing to walk those paths. Asking forgiveness is his first step; seeking ways to make it up to those he has hurt and rebuild trust is the second.

God wants to look upon each of us with pleasure. He longs for us to surrender ourselves to Himself so we can be used for good purposes.