Friday, May 07, 2004

When the mighty fall…
Neil Goldschmidt, former governor of Oregon, mayor of Portland, and Transportation Secretary under President Carter admitted yesterday that when he was 35, he had a nine-month sexual relationship with a 14 year-old girl. It’s hard to really comprehend the effect of this. For those of you outside Oregon, Goldschmidt is a giant in Oregon. He’s credited with helping make Portland the city it is today, and at 63, was the man current governor Ted Kulongoski called upon to fix higher education in Oregon. Revered by Democrats, respected by Republicans, he was a major force in Oregon politics.

On one hand, I want to be able to say that after 30 years, he surely must have redeemed himself. However, as a father, if it were my daughter, I’d want to kill him. As a Christian, I believe in redemption and forgiveness of sin (for the record, Goldschmidt is Jewish). While I believe that the power of God’s forgiveness and grace is available to Goldschmidt, I think he made the right decision by resigning from his public positions (as chair of the Board of Higher Education). When the mighty fall, they fall hard.

Here are a couple of news articles about the story:

Willameek Week – Portland alternative newspaper
Yahoo! News – the story actually made the national press

Of all the things I’ve learned in my relatively short adult life, one sticks out. I think it is best put by Psalm 146:3 - Do not put your trust in princes, in mortal men, who cannot save.

There have been some people (public figures) in my life I’ve really looked up to. Several have also come crashing back to earth, though not as hard as Neil Goldschmidt. The first couple of times it happened, I was hurt. I felt as if I had been let down. What I’ve realized is that we’re all human, but we live in a culture that exalts some people and paints them as flawless. Their flaws, and ultimately their humanity is almost always revealed. I think the message is not to lower our expectations necessarily and wait to be disappointed, but rather to not put people on such a pedestal.

Certainly what Neil Goldschimdt did is horrible and he needs to account for that. But let’s also acknowledge his humanity and not revel in fall, but rejoice in the possibility of redemption. That’s God’s good news – the power of grace to work in our lives in spite of our flaws. I hope Neil Goldschmidt opens his heart and lets God work within him.



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