It’s about more than Rod Jetton

Preface: A few years ago I interned in Speaker Jetton’s office and later worked for HRCC, which he then controlled. I’ve never known Jetton on a personal level, but did spend some time around him. More recently, my own parents divorced after a long marriage. These experiences are in large part why I have chosen to write about this aspect of the story.

Political consultant and former Missouri House Speaker Rod Jetton exploded onto the state and national news scene last night,  following reports that he assaulted a female sex partner. Dave Helling of the Kansas City Star Prime Buzz broke the story. The Republican from Southeast Missouri apparently planned a sexual liaison with the woman, and things took a turn for the worse.

(Star updates here & commentary here & hereChris Blank for AP here).

Facts will continue to emerge, along with daily developments. Jetton officially closed his consulting company today, for example. All of this is important and will be covered extensively, as it should be. The public, pundits and political class will also react, reflect and render judgment, again appropriately. Charges have been filed and the wheels of justice will turn.

But I wanted to bring up something else: Jetton’s family. I didn’t know until last night that Jetton and his wife had recently divorced. This saddens me.

Divorce causes pain; it may have been caused by pain. It destroys families; it may even destroy lives. It is a terrible event, because a bond of love has been broken, and the primary relationship in two people’s lives is ripped apart.

In any failed marriage, maybe the ripping started at the seams a few years ago, slowly. It often does. Or maybe the seam was never safely sewn to begin with. On occasion, the stitches of a marital relationship may split apart suddenly.

I grieve for the loss of this marriage. Whatever the cause, whatever the circumstance, the outcome was in some way the product of brokenness and despair. Something went wrong, on a fundamental level between two human beings.

In divorce, futures are altered and the past is assaulted. Unfortunately, it is not only the husband and wife who suffer. Children are deeply wounded by divorce; in the best of cases the wounds may fully heal but the scar will still remain. So I do not grieve merely for two adults in this case, but for the children (maybe even mostly for them). They do not deserve this hurt now or ever, yet they will know private pain for years to come.

Last night’s news may only compound an already difficult time in life for Rod Jetton’s family. And in addition to the divorce, that’s what I’m thinking about right now. I’m thinking about other stuff, too, but this is what I wanted to take a moment to consider this evening.

The media is covering the story of Rod Jetton. Yet, other people with their own stories are involved, and as human beings – and not just political observers – we must remember them as well. Hopefully, they have a strong network of friends and family who can support them during this time. Others of us may do well to pray for all involved.


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