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In this photo captured from a YouTube video, Tracy Meadows Jackson speaks in a video that included Mark Souder talking about the importance of abstinence education.

Video still has value, Souder says

– It’s been viewed – and mocked – so many times that “the abstinence video” has become the shorthand reference to Mark Souder’s scandal.

Last year, during one of their scripted on-camera conversations, Tracy Meadows Jackson interviewed Souder about a congressional hearing on abstinence education.

Although Souder has not said when he started the affair with Jackson, a part-time employee, he hinted that it was going on when the conversation was taped.

It’s provided fodder for comedians, and 200,000 people have watched the video on YouTube. Many have posted brutally sarcastic comments.

In the five-minute clip, Souder says, “I should have probably abstained from the hearing.” In response, Jackson laughs awkwardly and says, “Oooookay.”

“The truth is that … it’s funny,” Souder said in the interview with The Journal Gazette. “You’ll go crazy if you don’t have some sense of irony.”

He said he didn’t scramble to have the video removed from his congressional website because “everything I said in the video is true.”

“I’ve even acknowledged that it’s difficult,” he said of sex outside of marriage. “I said this in my (resignation) statement, but I passionately feel it: The ideas aren’t proven right or wrong whether an individual fails. The whole Old Testament, from an evangelical perspective, is to show that man can’t be perfect. And the whole point of the New Testament is to show that Christ sacrifices for it.

“Now, they expect a little better performance than I gave, especially if you’re a public official. The more responsibility you’re given, the more is expected. Therefore, ridicule is part of what happens when you fail.”

Souder said there might be a silver lining in the cloud of scorn the video has produced.

“If some people see this abstinence video, I’m living proof of what we’re saying in it. If they actually listen to the words, maybe it’s worth it.

“Just because a Christian says something and fails does not mean their words are wrong. If you took that principle, you should never advocate something where you’re doing less than you think you should be doing. But it hurts the cause.”

Besides, he said, if the abstinence video is the symbol used by TV broadcasts, late-night comics and Internet commentators, it means some other image isn’t.

“Quite frankly, I’d rather have that kind of video than video of my wife crying at the press conference shown over and over again,” the reason Souder asked his family not to join him at the microphone when he announced his resignation.

sylviasmith@jg.net

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