Wednesday, January 06, 2010

Peter Robinson on forgiveness

Politics is a profession which is fraught with personal pressures: it is no wonder that family life suffers and marriages break up. The revelation that Iris Robinson, wife of DUP leader Peter Robinson, had an affair is heartbreaking on so many levels. But Peter Robinson's statement today is profoundly moving and so utterly Christian:

You will appreciate how devastated I have been about what you have learned from Iris. This has been the most difficult period of my life and I have been deeply hurt by what has happened. I feel the pain of it every day.

The job we do as politicians places enormous strain on all of us and at times of heavy criticism and tough decisions it is especially so. I understand that. I also understand that in keeping a public profile, a politician internalises the stress. It is a sign of weakness to admit to pressure and anxiety. We are each made differently and some of us are more capable than others of weathering these storms in our lives.

My first knowledge of Iris's inappropriate relationship came about midnight on March 1 last year - the night she tried to take her own life. Each single morning since then, I have asked for the strength to carry this burden.

My immediate impulse was to walk away from my marriage. I felt betrayed after almost 40 years of being happily and closely bonded together. The circumstances I face, however, caused me to take a different course. Iris, racked by guilt and sorrow, had attempted to take her own life and would certainly have been less likely to recover if I had left. Over time and on calmer reflection, I set her inappropriate behaviour against 40 years of bringing up our children - often alone.

Forty years of selflessly giving me the space to pursue my beliefs; of facing public pressure for the stand I was taking and having to live with the threats and dangers my position visited upon my family. Those were forty years during which she supported me more than any person could reasonably have been expected to. Forty years where we walked the valley basin as well as the mountain paths - but most of all - 40 years during which we shared a strong, loving, relationship.

I determined that I could not walk away without making a genuine effort to see if my marriage could be saved. That is the road I am on. It is a road without guarantees but not without hope.

I love my wife. I have always been faithful to her. In a spirit of humility and repentance, Iris sought my forgiveness, she took responsibility upon herself alone for her actions and I have forgiven her. More important, I know that she has sought and received God's forgiveness.

I only ask if people feel they must judge her, that they find within themselves, as I have done, the gift of doing so with mercy and compassion.

It is heartbreaking that all the good work she has done for so many, over decades, will be overshadowed by what she has outlined today.

I accept that the press have a job to do and they must be free to do it. There will, no doubt, be those who will want to dredge up every lurid detail. They will get no help from me.

I want to assure the wider community that I have at all times sought to carry out my public duties diligently, and I will continue to discharge those responsibilities without allowing, as far as lies within me, my personal hurt to limit my endeavours.

This is a very painful time for my family, and I ask that the media respect our personal privacy while together, we seek to rebuild our lives.

I do not want to return to this subject. I am determined to try and put this issue behind me.

It is my intention to be at my desk tomorrow morning to continue the work the people of Northern Ireland have entrusted to me. I will be meeting with Martin McGuinness to discuss how we might make real progress. I want 2010 to a better year for us all.

The sadness is that Iris Robinson has made so many enemies in a certain section of the community that there will be much prancing in the streets and the shrillest squeals of glee at this sad news. But the Robinson family need our prayers and compassion, not condemnation. And we are exhorted to pray for all those in authority, whether or not we agree with their politics, religion, morality or worldview, and irrespective of their personal failings and character flaws.


Anonymous Dave North said...

Some of this womans utterences have been absolutely appalling.

Namely calling gay people sinful perverted creatures and similar to paedophiles.

Well excuse me, but isn't adultery a sin also.

May she get well soon, and I do hope her husband has the fortitide to forgive her.

But I will never forgive her for her hateful comments.

6 January 2010 at 18:54  
Anonymous Anguished Soul said...

I would never have known of the Robinson's marriage problems but for this post, Your Grace. But I think that says something about me and my lack of interest about politicians and their private lives. Indeed, I am getting tired of the constant obsession of the tabloid press about such things.

There are people dying in Darfur, people imprisoned and tortured for their faith and people dying for something as simple as a lack of water and yet our MSM are convinced all we need to know about is the private and the personal about some popstar or other...

If I didn't think Our Lord comes soon, I'd despair.

6 January 2010 at 19:09  
Blogger DDIM 'n HOFFI said...

There has to be some deep meaning to this that is completely washing over me. Or perhaps it really is as shallow as a puddle of cat's piss? Today we are exhorted to pray for everyone, yesterday there were those who are not to consume even the merest of seconds of our botheration. I like yesterdays plan, and, in fact this bothers me not in the least - Should it?

6 January 2010 at 20:28  
Anonymous not a machine said...

Your grace spans the range of political sins today . One minute I am compelled to uphold treason the next reminded that no one is without sin .

The lord guide us through our pains today.

I would hope that there is understanding , forgiveness takes time , but understanding .At least Mr robinson has been honest about his busy life and no doubt many men must look back at career driven lives and whished they could have been home with family more often .

6 January 2010 at 21:02  
Blogger Gareth said...

Iris Robinson has proved that she deserves nothing but contempt. On the one hand she uses her public platform to 'shrilly' condemn other humans as an abomination, yet she is perfectly happy to have immoral sex outside of marriage.

Forgiveness for the adultery yes, understanding for the mental illness yes, accepting of such hate filled hypocrisy NEVER.

6 January 2010 at 21:17  
Blogger Rebel Saint said...

To Gareth, David North and all those who will undoubtedly follow to condemn her "hypocrisy" ...

1) There is no hypocriscy ... she is not claiming that what she has done is moral/right/unsinful. She has sinned and she admits it. Compare that to those who try to self-justify their sinful behaviour by saying, "what we do is not a sin and by telling us it is you are being hateful".

2) Read the content of this post and compare and contrast your hateful, unforgiving attitudes with those of the man who has real reason to be full of anger, hatred, bitterness & resentment.

3) There cannot be a clearer example than this of the fact that the Church does not consist of perfect people but of forgiven & forgiving people. All who call on the name of the Lord can be saved ... adulterers, fornicators & homosexuals alike [and there can't be many of us who don't fall into one of those categories].

6 January 2010 at 21:42  
Blogger indigomyth said...

Oh this is most amusing - I wonder if it was before or after going into parliament and claiming that homosexuality was as bad as child abuse, that she threw open her legs, and allowed another man to enter that which she had promised to her husband. It seems always the way with these overt moralisers - Carrie Prejean makes a sex tape, Iris Robinson has an affair, numerous US Republican are caught having illegitimate children and affairs.

Seriously, Cranmer, if you really want your ideology to make a greater impact, you should stop choosing individuals that are so themselves corrupt. It is not even as if it was a Mary Magdalene moment - Iris sinned in such a way, even while she was moralising.

Perhaps we should make adultery illegal, and throw Iris in prison? It would, after all, be according to Biblical principle.

I am particularly amused by
//More important, I know that she has sought and received God's forgiveness.//

When that big red phone, the direct line to the heavens open, Pete must answer it. To have such certain knowledge of God's forgiveness! Imagine the occasion of the imparting of this knowledge - the sky rent asunder, the gates of heaven thrown wide, the crowds of seraphim and cherubim uttering the most glorious of choruses, the trumpets of the divine playing to the glory, preparing the way, and the majestic voice of God overcoming all of this to utter this solemn statement, "I forgive your wife for screwing around".

Apparently Pete is a latter day Abraham, hearing the voice of God direct.


6 January 2010 at 21:52  
Blogger indigomyth said...

Rebel Saint,

//There is no hypocriscy ... she is not claiming that what she has done is moral/right/unsinful. She has sinned and she admits it.//

Yes, but she is a hypocrite for saying that people should not engage in sinful behaviour, while she herself was doing so, quite knowingly, and willingly. So she is hypocritical.

6 January 2010 at 21:54  
Blogger Rebel Saint said...

Indigomyth ... indeed, we are all liars & hypocrites on that basis because there is not a single one of us that is without sin.

What would be hypocritical would be for her to say that others were guilty of sin and needed to repent from it, but to claim that she was not sinning & had no need to repent.

6 January 2010 at 23:01  
Anonymous Simon said...

Tried to top herself apparently - as far as I'm concerned she didn't try hard enough.

Let's hope she succeeds next time.

Morons like Robinson always seem to forget the maxim about being without sin before preaching to others; we see this all the time in your average religious moraliser c.f Haggard, Phelps, Fawell et al.

She's a massive hypocrite - quick to condemn - but just as quick to open her legs in her adulterous affair. Perhaps God has simply brought her down a peg-or-two.

I see Cranmer can't get on bended knee fast enough to pray for this woman - but then that's Christian compassion - bare faced, cherry-picked hypocrisy, writ large.

6 January 2010 at 23:12  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Your Grace, As a long time Northern Ireland follower of this blog who thoroughly enjoys it, but who regularly struggles through posts on "English/Scottish/Welsh" politics and on most occasions has to feign interest, I would like to thankyou for showing Christian compassion for the Robinson family. Knowing full well the kind of public derision they would attract (as demonstrated by the earlier comments)they discussed their marriage in public. He who is without sin post another derisory comment about a sinner who has sought repentance. Read what Jesus said to the adulterous woman. Christianity 101.

6 January 2010 at 23:27  
Blogger DDIM 'n HOFFI said...

What exactly is the Christian position with regards to suicide; what are the generally accepted consequences? I am fond of the idea of stringing myself up when I have had enough, but it's a tricky one really. I am pretty much destined for a severe bollocking at the very least as it stands now, but I could actually make things a lot worse, very easily, so would swinging from a tree save me or is it instant hell?

All ideas welcome.

6 January 2010 at 23:45  
Blogger DDIM 'n HOFFI said...

I think God has a Spam filter set up. It would be the logical thing to do I suppose. I mean how may people are praying to win the lottery? But there again, how many people are praying for all the right reasons? Maybe He has not checked His Spam folder for quite some time??


6 January 2010 at 23:53  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

All those who negative types commenting here:

Everybody is a sinner.

No Christian claims to be perfect, but a forgiven sinner.

Big difference.

How about debating the arguments, the ideas, the viewpoints rather than endless ad hominem attacks?



7 January 2010 at 00:34  
Anonymous no nonny said...

I do not know Mrs. Robinson, but in view of her husband's Christian love, I submit one possibility for consideration. In short, my thesis is a traditional adage: "misery loves company."

The woman is pretty - and she has the kind of good looks that last. How much such looks owe to character is arguable; but some would claim that ugliness of character reflects itself in physiognomy, especially over time.

I am certain, however, that one life-long consequence of her appearance has been to set her as a target for all genders - male predators (who are also competitors) and female competitors (who are also predators). And then there's the community who have chosen to 'out' their antipathy (er, 'hate') - some of whom doubtless play their many games in more than one gender-role. They, of course, are not known for the exclusivity of their partnerships.

If, in addition to her appearance, the woman is intelligent - then the recipe for tragedy in her life is writ large, especially if that life is 'public' and powerful. The predators, in all their pride, envy, and sense of inferiority, just can't let a woman like that prevail. Their characters impel them to disgrace her, to drag her down, trample her beneath their boots, and feed on the frenzy they create. The usual method is either to tempt and lead her to indiscretion, or to exploit some indiscretion that arose by some mistake or blow of fate. Her subsequent emotional distress and suicide attempt are exactly what they intend to accomplish.

Consideration of all these dynamics confirms me as an inveterate admirer of Elizabeth I.

7 January 2010 at 01:25  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I hope that God heals them and their marriage, as i also hope God heals those indiviuals married or not whose personal lives are mocked in newpapers or at the water cooler (hypocritically because we are all sinners of some kind needing God's and others' forgiveness, and anyone can potentially fall into any sin in thought, word or deed as well as by ommission to do good), whether they have committed adultery or other sins or been falsely accused thereof.

7 January 2010 at 01:51  
Blogger indigomyth said...

Rebel Saint,

//What would be hypocritical would be for her to say that others were guilty of sin and needed to repent from it, but to claim that she was not sinning & had no need to repent.//

No, I think she is hypocritical just as she is at the moment

With particular note on meaning 2.

Trying to change the meaning of hypocritical to show that this women is not a hypocrite is quite tedious and ill-thought out. Please concede your error.

Based on your "argument", if a homosexual declares homosexuality a sin, and then goes out clubbing, with glow sticks, a tight T-Shirt and poppers, hooks up with someone, and then goes home and has anal sex, provided that they then do not turn around in the morning and say that is not a sin, they are not a hypocrite, which is rubbish.

Iris Robinson's actions, for the months (years?) she was having her affair, were hypocritical, because she spent them saying one thing, and doing another, deriding sin, and actively engaging in sin. I would also note that this seems not to be a fling, a spur-of-the-moment, passion filled loss of reason and rationality, but a coldly calculated, systematic deception, designed to satisfy herself alone. And you call her not a hypocrite!

Try it like this - If she was someone having been engaged in active, continuous homosexual activity, even while saying homosexuality was a sin, would you consider her non-hypocritical?

If you do, then your meaning of hypocritical is different to the one that is understood by me, and most of every dictionary I have read.

7 January 2010 at 07:27  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

From David Lonsdale

Your Grace,
Only a Christian will understand your post and only a forgiven Christian will understand the position of the Robinsons.

As for Mr Robinson, perhaps he would take inspiration from the example of Hosea to whom God gave an adulterous wife. God wanted Hosea to experience the pain that He feels at the adulterous behaviour of His people Israel and, by extension, His Church.

He also wanted Hosea to know not only the price of forgiveness, but also the joy that is thereby released. Remember the joy in heaven over one sinner that repents.

Christians too are prone to sin. We have all heard the jibe, "Call yourself a Christian". But that should not stop us declaring what God's law says. It is because she knows the law that Mrs Robinson is able to repent. And it is because he understands the joy of being forgiven for sins that he himself has committed that Mr Robinson is able to forgive.

May the Lord bless the Robinsons and may the Lord open the eyes of those who cannot see. Amen

7 January 2010 at 09:28  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Even on a post about hetroseuxal affairs, the usual gay rights activists have to come out and either gloat or say this person is a hypocrite. Can't the gays just butt out for once?

7 January 2010 at 09:47  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Indigomyth, in my life I've been a liar, a thief, a drunkard, a fornicator, and many more things besides. Technically I've also committed adultery (she was separated, and waiting for her divorce to come through).

I've committed even worse sins in my heart, including murder. There are few people I could condemn without being hypocritical on some level. Uh-oh...another sin!

I don't need a big red phone line to God to believe that I'll be forgiven if I genuinely repent. It's one of those faith things, see? A bit like the existence of God in the first place - not only can I not prove that He exists, I can't even know it for sure myself. I just choose to believe that He does.

If you can't accept some things on faith, including God's forgiveness, then you'll find it impossible to be a Christian. There's just no way round that one, I'm afraid.

7 January 2010 at 09:52  
Anonymous Bob Doney said...

What a star in the firmament Mr Robinson is! He can forgive his wife before breakfast, and settle down in the office for the rest of the day working with that nice Mr McGuinness and no doubt his hapless doppelganger, Mr "I was a victim of abuse" Adams.

How deep is god's barrel of forgiveness? Have we come close to scraping the bottom yet?

7 January 2010 at 10:00  
Blogger Rebel Saint said...

Indigomyth ... by your standard, to condemn her as a hypocrite means that you are also condemning yourself as a hypocrite. For which of us is without sin?

You are technically correct of course, only someone without sin can correct or judge another without hypocrisy. Which makes the Lord Jesus' statement "I come not to condemn but to save" even more remarkable of course.

But taking your ridiculous (and not representative of this situation at all) analogy further ... if the sodomite in question was truly contrite for his actions and confessed them and asked for forgiveness then I don't think he is a hypocrite ... just foolish, unwise and human. The apostle Paul deals with this whole principle in 1 Corinthians 10 - you may like to read it.

I condemn pornography - it is vile & sinful. Yet I know I am tempted by it, and often give into it through negligence, weakness and even by my own deliberate fault. Am I a hypocrite - Yes. Should I stop condemning it in myself or in others or should I stop calling it a sin - No. Should I be gracious, forgiving and understanding of others who are similarly tempted or fallen - Yes.

7 January 2010 at 10:16  
Blogger indigomyth said...

Anonymous @ 09:52,

//I don't need a big red phone line to God to believe that I'll be forgiven if I genuinely repent. It's one of those faith things, see?//

Yes, but you say you believe you have been forgiven. What Pete said was that he KNEW that God had forgiven her. A crucial difference, I fear. Knowledge requires proof, or reason. Of this, Pete can have none. If he wants to say he believes, or hopes, or wishes that God has forgiven Iris, then fine, but to state certain knowledge on this subject is supreme arrogance.

Rebel Saint,

//Indigomyth ... by your standard, to condemn her as a hypocrite means that you are also condemning yourself as a hypocrite. For which of us is without sin?//

Ahh, no you see. I was expecting you to say something like that. I am not a hypocrite, because I do not believe in "sin" in the same way Iris does. I believe there are things that are wrong to do, so I do not do them. For example, it is not hypocritical for active homosexuals to criticise Iris for this, because they do not consider homosexuality to be a sin - therefore they are not, by their own measure, sinning yet condemning someone else for their sins. If Iris were to state that she does not believe adultery is a sin, then she would not be being hypocritical, because her essential message is people should not sin, but she has. She would be inconsistent with the Bible, however. An active homosexual that does not think homosexual activity is sinful, is not being hypocritical when they condemn others of things that they think are sinful. Rather like it is not hypocritical for a Sikh to criticise a Christian for committing murder, merely because the Sikh is in a state of sin according to Christianity (not believe in Christ the Lord). The Sikh could be considered a hypocrite according to Christian theology of course.

//if the sodomite in question was truly contrite for his actions and confessed them and asked for forgiveness then I don't think he is a hypocrite//

Ah yes, but presumably Iris was sinning confessedly and unrepentantly while she was condemning others. She was in a state on non-repentance, a state of sin, even while she was condemning others for their sinful actions. Therefore, for the duration of the time those two things overlapped (her sinning and her condemnation of sin) she was being a hypocrite.

//Should I stop condemning it in myself or in others or should I stop calling it a sin - No//

I would say that, yes, you should stop condemning it as sin in others, until you eradicate it from your own person.

Another analogy - all those priests caught of molesting children. Were they being hypocritical when they were raping, yet also teaching the children about the nature of sin? They were unrepentant while doing it (one presumes, hence why they continued). Technically, if you believe that sin is a violation of God's law, then Iris is correct when she condemns homosexuality as sinful, even while she herself breaks God's law. Rather like a murdered stating murder is illegal - it is merely a statement of fact. It is not hypocritical for a murderer to say that murder is illegal, but it is hypocritical of them to say that murder is wrong - but then we are getting into the difference between a

7 January 2010 at 15:22  
Blogger indigomyth said...

civil law, and a moral code.

7 January 2010 at 15:25  
Blogger Rebel Saint said...

"I believe there are things that are wrong to do, so I do not do them."

If that is the case I genuinely admire you and with all sincerity I can only aspire to be as free, self-controlled & self-disciplined as you.

Until that time I shall continue to need the forgiveness of a saviour.

7 January 2010 at 17:25  
Blogger Preacher said...

Rebel Saint.
Right on the ball brother. But only those that are honest can understand God & His Grace.
They reject Him at their own peril & must face the consequences, while it is loving to attempt to enlighten them, there comes a time when only Divine intervention can make the blind see.
Your Grace. I add my prayers to those of your other communicants for the restoration of the Robinson family.

7 January 2010 at 18:23  
Anonymous len said...

All sin is committed ultimately against God.
And He is the Judge of all.

That is why we ALL need Jesus Christ, however if we reject Him we will stand in the Judgment on our own.Gods standard is the one we will be judged by, not our own.

7 January 2010 at 19:24  
Anonymous Scott, Perth said...

She is finally feeling some of the misery her and her squad have inflicted on millions of lgbt men and women for centuries.

7 January 2010 at 19:54  
Blogger Ayrdale said...

Sin ? Adultery yes of course.
Homosexuality as sin ? Looks more like aberrant deviance to me, a fetishism perhaps, a bit akin to latex wearing, watersports and the like.

7 January 2010 at 23:59  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Does the 'certain section of the community' also include those people who were upset at the MPs expenses allegations, or those upset by the behaviour reported by the BBC today?

The wife of NI's first minister broke the law by not declaring her financial interest in a business deal.

BBC Northern Ireland's Spotlight programme said Iris Robinson, an MP, an MLA and a councillor, obtained £50,000 from two property developers.

The money was paid to her 19-year-old lover Kirk McCambley to help him launch a new cafe. She later asked him for £5,000 for herself.

I'd like to think I have compassion for people who stumble away from what their beliefs deem to be acceptable behaviour, but repeated stumbles tend to weaken the compassion...

8 January 2010 at 00:41  
Blogger Manfarang said...

And here's to you Mrs Robinson,
Jesus loves you more than you know(Wo wo wo)
God bless you please Mrs Robinson
Heaven holds a place for those who pray(hey hey hey....hey hey hey)

8 January 2010 at 02:40  
Anonymous Simon said...

The gift that keeps on giving:

Also, 19 and 58 - a forty year age gap? You lot would be frothing at the mouth if this was a homosexual relationship - I mean given an age difference like that and an enticement of £50k - was she just grooming him? Is she really just a paedophile uncovered?

I remember when the age of consent was being lowered for gay people to 18 - a paedophile's charter according to many christians at the time. Has Iris crossed that line too then?

8 January 2010 at 11:43  
Blogger Archbishop Cranmer said...

Mr Simon,

HIs Grace takes your point, and may well return to the matter later today.

8 January 2010 at 12:29  

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