Missing Jenny Sanford's faith?

I still have my dried, rotting wedding bouquet in my house that I'm almost ready to part with, but after watching Kate Gosselin, South Carolina First Lady Jenny Sanford, and other marriages unravel last summer, I feel the need to cling to anything that symbolizes my recent marriage.

I became particularly interested in Sanford's story because shortly after her husband revealed his affair, she put out statements that made us think the marriage might last. Remember this one?

Psalm 127 states that sons are a gift from the Lord and children a reward from Him. I will continue to pour my energy into raising our sons to be honorable young men. I remain willing to forgive Mark completely for his indiscretions and to welcome him back, in time, if he continues to work toward reconciliation with a true spirit of humility and repentance. This is a very painful time for us and I would humbly request now that members of the media respect the privacy of my boys and me as we struggle together to continue on with our lives and as I seek the wisdom of Solomon, the strength and patience of Job and the grace of God in helping to heal my family.

Plus, a Vogue story shortly after the initial news of the affair suggested that her faith was an important part of her life. "If you don't forgive," she said in the interview, "you become angry and bitter. I don't want to become that. I am not in charge of revenge. That's not up to me. That's for the Lord to decide, and it's important for me to teach that to my boys. All I can do is forgive."

As we know, Sanford filed for divorce in December, and the reports and reviews I've read of her recent book Staying True seem to suggest that it's a tale of revenge more than anything. Here's Politico's recap:

"Staying True" is filled with nasty accounts of the governor that paint him as insensitive, uncaring, selfish, out of touch and cheap. She offers new details of her husband's affair in the book out Friday and is unflinching in her criticism of the governor.

Janet Maslin's review for The New York Times references Sanford's faith, but offers no details about it and takes a shot at Sanford's husband.

[Mark Sanford] cherished Galatians 5:22 -- "But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness and self-control" -- which in hindsight now looks like an unfortunate choice.

The other night, I watched a large portion of ABC's Barbara Walters' 20/20 interview, and I don't believe she discussed her religious beliefs, nor did Walters ask. She briefly mentions her faith in her interview with CNN's Larry King. Sanford told Jon Stewart that her husband "sinned against God and against me." Stewart asked her whether her husband was a hypocrite for touting family values, she simply says, "There's no question that he fell from grace." And then Stewart refrains from telling a joke and they move on. While her faith doesn't appear very much in interviews so far, some of the book descriptions focus a little bit on that angle.

Here's a section of how The State characterizes the book:

At home is the same Jenny Sanford, mother and wife, portrayed in her new book, "Staying True," which is just out and billed by Ballantine Books as an inspirational memoir about holding to one's faith in life's trying times.

Jenny Sanford, 47, said she wrote it for two groups - women also struggling with life's unexpected twists and her sons so that they could hear her side of the story and know she has always put them and her Christian faith first.

Finally, here are sections of the Amazon description:

In this candid and compelling memoir, the first lady of South Carolina reveals the private ordeal behind her very public betrayal -- and offers inspiration for anyone struggling to keep faith during life's most trying times.

... She stayed true -- to herself, to her faith, and to her highest ideals of parenthood and public service.

... At every step along her journey, Jenny Sanford has made choices: She gave up her career, moved far from her home state of Illinois, even changed her religious practices.

She changed religious practices? That seems significant, though I'm still not sure how she describes her faith at this point. I flipped through the last chapter during a 10-minute layover yesterday, and she quotes Psalm 139 and references her faith heavily at the end. From these descriptions, it looks like religion plays a significant role in her life, but I can't tell that from early media reports.

As reporters and reviewers write on this new book, I hope we read more about Sanford's beliefs, how they sustained her, how they impacted her marriage and then her decision to divorce. Normally, I would think journalists might leave people alone in these types of situations and let them work their personal business out. But Sanford is selling her story through her book, so journalists should be willing to dig out that religion angle a little bit more.

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