Actions Have ConsequencesThis is perhaps one of the most difficult posts I have ever had to write, because it concerns someone who I consider a friend, who I have supported politically, and who I believe has a heart of gold. It is especially disheartening because I have wholeheartedly believed in what this person has been trying to accomplish in the 4th Senate District all these many months.
The news broke this morning that Mike Faulk has had an affair with the now-former head of the Hawkins County Young Republicans, Ms. Kelli Walker. Since this has become public, I can tell you that I have known about this for several days, hiding the story even (as I am sure she will be keen to remind me) from my wife-Faulk has always been very good to both my wife and myself. I was told of the affair by a very reliable source who is well-connected within the Tennessee Republican Party who I do not believe for a second would lie to me, and whose political support of Faulk, like my own, cannot be questioned.
Mike Faulk has not officially responded to the allegations, and based on my conversation with the above-mentioned source nearly a week before the story broke, I believe that the story is true.
Knowing that is a hard and bitter pill to swallow for those of us who have supported Faulk since well before he ever officially announced that he was running for the State Senate. Many of us believe in the things Mike stands for, and have come to appreciate his outgoing personality and willingness to communicate with his supporters directly. Those of us who've supported his Senate bid have done so in good faith, believing that he had the resources and the political experience to take on a well-connected and lobbyist-funded foe in Senator Mike Williams.
Mike Faulk does have political experience. He was heavily involved in Lamar Alexander's successful 1974 campaign for Governor, and ran the 1978 campaign in House District 91 (Memphis). He has served on the Tennessee Human Rights Commission, on the Hawkins County Commission, and he once ran for State Republican Chairman. In short, Mike Faulk knows what he is doing, and he knows how to win.
What makes this situation so baffling is precisely that reality: Faulk has been around politics enough to know that engaging in morally inappropriate or questionable behavior will be easily capitalized upon by one's opponents and be found out by the press. He is aware, surely, that such behavior can and will ruin someone's political career, and somewhere in the back of his mind he had to know that his own was at risk by his actions. Yet he risked his career and reputation on what St. Paul called "the pleasures of sin for a season."
Everyone in this earthly walk is a sinner, of course, and if I chose my friends solely based on whether or not they were morally pure, or whether they lived up to either my standards or God's standards, I would have very few friends in this life. Christ can forgive Faulk for what he has done, and perhaps He already has. Faulk's friends and political supporters may be able to forgive him. Perhaps someday even the young lady at the center of the storm can forgive Faulk for, she says, not acknowledging his role in the affair publicly or the role she says the relationship played in bringing down her marriage. Forgiveness, however, does not negate consequences.
In Catholic theology, we have something we call "the temporal punishment due to sin." Put in the most simplistic terms, this means that while God has forgiven a person of their sin, their actions still have consequences and they must pay them. Forgiveness does not remove the action of the sin or the consequences of the sin, it merely means that God will not hold that sin to your charge when you stand before Him at the Judgment. The consequences of a person's wrongdoing still must be dealt with.
In Mike Faulk's case, the reality that he knew what the consequences of his actions could be, yet continued engaging in morally deviant behavior speaks to his judgment. Were Faulk not involved in politics, what he did would still be equally heinous, but would be a private matter with sad but private consequences. In public life, the kind of behavior Faulk is accused of is a private matter that has very public consequences-it could cost Faulk not only the election, but what appeared to be a very bright political future.
I still consider Mike Faulk a friend, and I probably always will. His saving grace may be that his opponent also has a chequered past , but I'm not sure it is wise to make who can out-philander whom the central issue of an election campaign. Merely because he is a friend does not mean that Mike Faulk deserves victory. He himself has undermined his opportunity and has let down not only his supporters, but the people of the 4th District who deserve much better representation than what we currently enjoy.
Mike Faulk's "temporal punishment due to sin" may be that he can get the good Lord's forgiveness, and even the forgiveness of his political friends, but must pay for his actions with his political career.