The Common Good

Edwards: 'I Sin Every Day'

In the Sojourners/CNN candidate forum in June of 2007, John Edwards said, "I sin every day," in response to a question on sin and forgiveness. Some journalists thought that was a throwaway line from a politician. But as the nation shockingly heard one week ago, Edwards was speaking honestly and even confessionally. Here was a man in a good and strong marriage, known to be a wonderful father, and yet last Friday he painfully and publicly confessed to the terrible mistake of an affair with another woman, which caused great hurt to his wife and the family he loves so much.

Having confessed the sin to his family, dealt with the hurt, anger, and even "furious" response to such a severe breach of his closest relationships, the Edwards were hoping to keep the transgression and process of family healing private. But as the story was beginning to leak into the public square, John Edwards made a dramatic confession on ABC News and unleashed a torrent of reaction over the last week.

When these sad, tragic, and heartbreaking revelations occur, it always reminds me of the text from Romans: "There is none righteous, no not one." Yes, Edward's observation during the Sojourners/CNN forum was correct, and he is not the only one. Paul reminds us, "We all have sinned and come short of the glory of God."

I have respected John Edwards' championing of the moral issue of poverty, and that's why he appears on the cover of the latest issue of Sojourners, along with former Republican presidential candidate Mike Huckabee. I interviewed them both several weeks ago about how we could truly put poverty on the agenda in America. On last month's cover, we featured Elizabeth Edwards, who wrote eloquently about the need for everyone in America to have the kind of health care she has in her courageous fight against cancer.

I know both John and Elizabeth Edwards, and I am blessed to call them friends. John Edwards knows the pain he has caused, which has been rubbed raw again during these excruciating days of sensational media coverage of the most personal of failings. I admire the way they have faced this most tragic situation together. For our part, let's now offer them our heartfelt prayers for the continued healing of their marriage and family life. I pray that they will now be left alone so they may have a time for healing.

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