(NEW YORK) Former U.S. Congressman Anthony Weiner on Friday pleaded guilty in federal court to sending sexually explicit messages to a teenage girl, ending an investigation into a "sexting" scandal that played a role in last year's U.S. presidential election.
The count of transferring obscene material to a minor carries a maximum sentence of 10 years in prison. The plea deal with federal prosecutors included Weiner's agreement not to appeal any sentence of 27 months or less.
Wearing a navy-colored suit, maroon tie and his wedding band, Weiner, 52, entered his plea before U.S. District Judge Loretta Preska shortly after 11 a.m. EDT (1500 GMT).
The former Democratic congressman's promising political career imploded after a series of scandals involving inappropriate sexual exchanges with women online. U.S. authorities last year began investigating reports that Weiner sent explicit messages to a 15-year-old girl in North Carolina.
Federal agents seized Weiner's laptop during the probe and discovered a batch of emails from his wife, Huma Abedin, a senior aide to Hillary Clinton, the Democratic nominee for president in 2016.
As a result, James Comey, then the director of the Federal Bureau of Investigation, announced in late October that the agency was reviewing the messages to determine whether to reopen its investigation into Clinton's handling of official correspondence.
THE CHRISTIAN RESPONSE TO SEXTING
“Sexting” is obscene texting. It is the act of sending sexually explicit messages and/or photographs, usually between mobile phones. Sexting has become so prevalent that, in August 2012, the word sexting was listed for the first time in Merriam-Webster’s Collegiate Dictionary.
Some people view sexting as harmless. After all, there are only a few words and maybe some pictures involved. It’s not as if people are actually committing adultery or fornication, right?
Matthew 5:28 says, “I tell you that anyone who looks at a woman lustfully has already committed adultery with her in his heart.” This moral concept also applies to how women look at men, and Jesus clearly equates lust with adultery here. So the fact that “only words or pictures are involved” is obviously immaterial to God. What matters is what is in our hearts. Colossians 3:5 warns us to “put to death” whatever belongs to our earthly nature, including sexual immorality, impurity, lust, and evil desires.
Galatians 5:19–21 reveals the severe consequences of disobedience in this matter: “The acts of the flesh are obvious: sexual immorality, impurity . . . and the like. I warn you, as I did before, that those who live like this will not inherit the kingdom of God.”
But what about sexting between a married couple? Technically, sexting between a husband and his wife would not be a sin, since a satisfying sex life is a gift God gives to married couples. However, it is still ill-advised. We never know who might read our messages or view our pictures. It’s possible that someone may happen to see nude photos of your spouse over your shoulder, and this may cause lust in that person as a result. Sound unlikely? James 1:14–15 says, “Each person is tempted when they are dragged away by their own evil desire and enticed. Then, after desire has conceived, it gives birth to sin; and sin, when it is full-grown, gives birth to death.”
Given recent revelations concerning government surveillance of cellular telephone and internet traffic, as well as the ability of hackers to intercept personal communications, we should be careful in our use of phones and web-enabled devices. Even if we’re not sexting, we still face the problems of identity theft and data privacy.
It’s best to follow the advice of 1 Corinthians 10:31, “So whether you eat or drink or whatever you do, do it all for the glory of God.”