S.C. Marriage Counselor: Mark Sanford Is ‘Rationalizing’ Adultery

Mark Sanford’s explanations of his 2009 adultery scandal are “rationalizations” that show the former South Carolina governor ”has not come to terms with the gravity of his sin,” a Christian marriage counselor in the district says.

“Only men that work hard at removing such conscience-deadening rationalizations and minimizing statements and replace it with true contrition win their spouse back,” Timothy Bryant wrote at his blog Friday. “Apart from such true contrition a person dealing with a moral failure like adultery will spend their life running from the only thing that can restore - humility that begets grace.

Bryant is director of the Charleston-based Lowcountry Biblical Counseling Center. His commentary on Sanford’s 2009 affair was inspired, he said, by watching a Thursday night congressional debate between Sanford and Curtis Bostic. The two Republicans are seeking the nomination in a runoff for the special election to fill the 1st District seat vacated by the appointment of Tim Scott to the Senate.

Bryant said Sanford’s statements about his affair with Maria Belén Chapur show “no proof of contrition toward the one on earth whom he hurt the most” - Sanford’s ex-wife Jenny, who divorced him in 2010.

It was reported in August that Sanford is now engaged to Chapur, whom he called his “soul mate” in an interview with the Associated Press shortly after Sanford’s affair with the Argentine woman was discovered. His trip to Buenos Aires to rendezvous with Chapur made national headlines in June 2009; his aides had told reporters that the governor was “hiking the Appalachian trail,” but Sanford returned and held a press conference at which he confessed his affair. The State newspaper published e-mails in which Sanford described himself and Chapur as being in a “hopelessly impossible situation of love.” Sanford was subsequently censured by the South Carolina state legislature and paid $74,000 to settle charges of ethics violations related to the affair.

Thursday’s debate moderator David Webb called the 2009 sex scandal “the elephant in the room” in the 1st District congressional race. The runoff vote on Tuesday will decide whether Sanford or Bostic will face Democrat Elizabeth Colbert Busch in the May 7 special election.

Bryant, the Charleston marriage counselor who has been a pastor for more than 10 years, wrote that Sanford is trying to minimize his adultery as a “small thing,” and compensate for it by winning a seat in Congress.  ”[A]fter adultery, a person’s conscience needs to accept the gravity of sin if the person’s conscience is going to be rebuilt instead of silenced,” Bryant wrote. “The adulterer must turn from rationalizing, minimizing and compensating by achievement and  instead, through contrition of mind start rebuilding life and trust with the broken relationships he has caused.”