I must admit, I haven’t been closely following the Herman Cain story. I have heard about the sexual harrassment allegations and the alleged mistress who have all come out recently, though. This post is not really to make any judgements on that. What caught my attention was the headline today that he’s “reassessing” his candidacy for President.
It is astonishing how remarkably peaceful your life can be going on, how well you can be doing and how much growth you can be experiencing, when all of a sudden, your train gets derailed. The thing is, though, he put himself out there, held himself up for public scrutiny. The same thing happened to Kanye West, Roman Polanski, Michael Jackson, and many others. There’s just something about achieving success, or putting yourself out there in an effort to achieve success, that just opens a person up to all kinds of nasty things showing up from the past and present to destroy the future.
What does any of this have to do with a relationship blog, much less commitment? The short answer is that in today’s society when employers as well as potential mates check out your Facebook page and twitter, scrutiny is almost unavoidable. With such scrutiny, it’s inevitable that any dirt you are doing will be found out. I’m all for that; get out the black light and check.it.out. If you’re going to commit, you must AUDIT.
It would be silly for Herman Cain (or anyone else for that matter) to think that they would get within spitting distance of the most powerful position in all the land without be thoroughly vetted. America may not be all she used to be, but our President is arguably still the most powerful man in the world. Forgetting for the moment that people would look longer and harder at Cain for being a Black man (who is a Republican), we must admit that anyone wanting to be President is subject to a thorough inquiry. We want to know about your business dealings; the decision making in your personal life; your ability to commit to your own wife and family; your personal integrity; your ability to make the decisions that are best for this country and not just your interest; your ability to keep us out of military conflict; your ideological precepts, and; your plan of action. We want to know where you went to school, what grades you made and your track record in politics thus far. We want to know your take on foreign policy. In short, we won’t vote for just anyone for President (though, when it comes to local government, that may be another story…ahem…).
What I propose is that we take our evaluations for filling the position of our spouse just as seriously. We should vet any potential mates just as thoroughly as we do people we might vote for in an election. Just as the President of the United States has a lot of power over our lives, so will a spouse. A spouse is one of the most influential people in your lives. They are a factor in determining where you live, where you work (even if you work), where you worship, how you celebrate the holidays, and how your household is set up and run. They can influence your mood, motivate or dissuade you. Yet so many people are satisfied with trading byproducts for the real thing.
I know plenty of people who traded good sex for committed relationships. Before they realize it, they are living with (and fighting with) the same person for years without any real commitment on the other person’s part. They have invested their hopes and dreams into a relationship with no strings attached. They want commitment; they expect to have a commitment someday. But they have already committed themselves on the basis of sex, charming words, the “serious gesture” of moving in together. At first they agree with the “we don’t need a piece of paper to be committed” mentality, but then they start to question it.
It’s like how you fall in love with a candidate for President, then start to see inconsistencies in his agenda. You did a little deeper, and then you find affairs while his wife is dying of cancer, sexual harrassment allegations, recreational drug use. Now his character is called into question and you are rethinking your vote. But if you’ve already made the campaign contributions and cast your vote, there isn’t much you can do except be disillusioned and know better next time.
In 2 Peter 1, Peter gives a list of virtues for the Christian to aspire to in order to make their calling and election sure. If you want the vote, their are some things you have to do to ensure you live up to the voter’s expectations of the ideal candidate.
So many times, we only “campaign” in the early stages of the relationship, trying to win each other over. We put our best foot forward and roll out our ideal agendas for the future in the hopes of impressing the other person, of getting their vote, so to speak. We conceal all the bad things, telling ourselves that it’s too early in the relationship to bring it up, because we know it might cost us the vote.
We are also the voter, trying to determine whether to vote for this politician. Sometimes, we cast our vote too soon. Either because the person has the same political affiliation or has a similar stance to us on one or two key issues. But as time goes on, we realize that there are different kinds of democrats, different kinds of republicans. There are varying degrees of liberalness and conservativism to be considered. Maybe they don’t live up to the principles they espoused. Maybe their personal character is called into question when things they tried to cover up are revealed. But once the ballot is cast and our vote is counted, all we can do is know better next time.
My encouragement to you is to treat your potential mate like a presidential candidate. Scrutinize him/her. Make sure their actions line up with the things they say they value. Don’t let them get your vote just because they are attractive or say they value family or make you laugh. Don’t make premature gestures of commitment in a non-committed relationship. This means more than just sex. This also includes premature emotional attachment, building a future in your head with no expressed commitment (I have been guilty of that one), playing “wife” or “husband”, financially supporting someone.
No one would make payments to the electric company each month and settle for the promise of having electricity sometime in the future; you pay the bill with the expectation that when you flip a switch, a light will come on. It doesn’t take us long to complain if this doesn’t happen. We aren’t giving them our money for nothing; we expect something in return. When we commit to those who haven’t committed to us, we are paying money for services we never receive. Don’t accept that in your personal life any more than you would with your finances.
This is not to say that a person’s past is always the best way to determine their future actions; people can and do change. But often the things people try to cover up are things they haven’t learned from, haven’t evolved from, or don’t even realize still deeply affect them. People who can be honest about who they were at least have the realization of the person they were, and that this may impact who they are now. The point is to be dilligent and investigate until you are satisfied you can confidently endorse this person. Then make sure this person is going to be committed to you as well. Make sure they will fulfill their campaign promises if you cast your vote for them before you cast it.