A.C. Snow

Snow: Are we running out of sin?

The best line in the Democratic presidential debate came from U.S. Sen. Bernie Saunders, who said to Hillary Clinton, “The American people are sick and tired of hearing about your damn e-mails.”

I felt the same way about media reports about North Carolina’s Second District Rep. Renee Ellmers alleged affair. She has emphatically denied the rumor.

In the “anything goes” culture in which we live, adultery seemingly has become an indoor sport, especially commonplace among celebrities and politicians.

Former Presidents Bill Clinton and John F. Kennedy set new standards for “messing around,” as extramarital affairs used to be called in Surry County, yet both served as outstanding presidents.

To be perfectly honest, our permissive society seems to be running out of sin. In time, I expect preachers will have to sermonize on such things as the weather, the Second Coming and being kind to each other, children and small animals.

That wasn’t always the case.

My older sister was one of the pillars of a Baptist church in the foothills. When it was discovered that the preacher was “messing around” with the choir director, the feeling among many congregants was that the Christian thing to do was forgive his transgression.

My sister felt otherwise. She led a group of dissenters out of the church and founded her own house of worship a mile or two away.

That was when sin was sin, no matter what face others wanted to give it.

A Sunday School teacher once related an incident in which the children in her class were memorizing the Ten Commandments. One fellow was doing fine until he came to the 10th commandment, which he interpreted as “Thou shalt not uncover thy neighbor’s wife.”

Come to think of it, that might be an appropriate 11th commandment.

Soon after her divorce, a friend of ours seemed low in spirit and in need of cheering up. I suggested she take a friend and enjoy a weekend at a beach condo of which we are part owners.

“I’m not sure I can find a friend who hasn’t slept with my husband,” she sighed.

Another friend one day went home from work unexpectedly and found a woman making out with her husband in what William Shakespeare might have called their “best bed.”

In his will, Shakespeare bequeathed the couple’s “second best bed” to his wife. I’m still wondering who was willed the best bed. His lover?

In my opinion, committing adultery is one of the most reprehensible insults a spouse can pay his or her mate. It not only causes heartache, it is demeaning, a blow to the spouse’s sense of self-worth. As one of the leading causes of divorce, adultery can cause painful upheavals of families.

But does committing adultery automatically strip someone of his or her leadership abilities? Down through history, some of our best statesmen have been guilty of “messing around.”

I’m not endorsing either adultery or Ellmers. I’m just raising the question of whether there should be political separation of sex and state.


During a routine visit to my doctor, he said apologetically, “Now I’m going to give you a memory test. We’re required to do this.”

I wasn’t offended.

He explained that he would give me three words to remember and later during the visit he’d ask me to repeat those words: apple, table and penny.

My brain went to work. First, it tested to see if the words could be remembered by alliteration, as in “Peter Piper picked a peck of pickled peppers.” They couldn’t.

The brain then checked to see if the first letters of the words could be assembled to spell a new word. They could: apt, pat and tap. The brain then told me to memorize a sentence using “apt.”

That was easy: “I’m apt to pass this test.”

Fifteen minutes later I had no problem supplying the three magic words.

The second part of the test required me to draw a clock with the hands denoting 2 p.m. That, too, was a breeze.

The test reminded me that memory is a precious commodity, yet a fickle one. Age makes inroads into it. Don’t take memory for granted.

As a fellow by the name of William Gibson once said, “Time moves in one direction, memory in another.”