Wednesday, November 14, 2012

Have You Heard the One about the General and the Biographer and the Socialite and the Other General and the FBI?

It happened, late one afternoon, when David rose from his couch and was walking about on the roof of the king’s house, that he saw from the roof a woman bathing; the woman was very beautiful. David sent someone to inquire about the woman. It was reported, “This is Bathsheba daughter of Eliam, the wife of Uriah the Hittite.” So David sent messengers to get her, and she came to him, and he lay with her.
II Samuel 11:2-4

Raise your hand if you thought General Petraeus was a likely candidate for extramarital sex.

The story of King David is much more straight-forward than the story of CIA director David Petraeus. A woman in Florida complained to a friend in the FBI about emails she was receiving. The FBI friend started an investigation, which led to the discovery that the women sending the unwanted emails was having an affair with General Petraeus. Eventually, the FBI also found that the woman receiving the (allegedly) nasty emails was also having an (apparently or possibly) inappropriate correspondence with another general. In the meantime, the friend at the FBI was taken off of the case and then complained to a friend in congress because it was going too slowly. And maybe he is now also under investigation? You can’t make this up.

The whole story is tragic. It is especially tragic for the spouses and the families. It is always painful to have one’s trust betrayed, but to have that betrayal played out as the lead story in a never ending news cycle must feel like one has been sent to a special place in hell. But in a different light, it is also tragic for the principal actors. No one is immune to human frailty

Our modern David has no shortage of folks willing to make excuses for his behavior. An unnamed former colleague described Paula Broadwell as “a shameless self-promoting prom queen,” and apologized for the general by explaining, “You’re a 60-year-old man and an attractive woman almost half your age makes herself available to you – that would be a test for anyone.” News stories focused on Mrs. Broadwell’s wardrobe, her eyes, and her well-toned muscles in an attempt to rationalize the general’s fall from grace.

When in doubt, blame the woman.

One of the more remarkable things about the story of David and Bathsheba is that all of the blame, human and divine, falls on David. When we think about the patriarchal culture of those times, it is surprising that Bathsheba was not portrayed as the temptress and the seducer.

We blame the woman in part at least because we know there is no limit to the needs of the male ego. On the short list of powerful men who had affairs with worshipful younger women we find Bill Clinton, Newt Gingrich, John Edwards, and John McCain.

The problem is not new. Half a century ago when Allen Dulles was CIA Director and his brother, John Foster Dulles, was Secretary of State, the standards were quite different. According to his sister, Allen Dulles had hundreds of affairs, including Queen Frederika of Greece, and no one thought much about it.

The Book of Proverbs provides wisdom for married men in the form of a blessing:

Let your fountain be blessed,
and rejoice in the wife of your youth,
1a lovely deer, a graceful doe.
May her breasts satisfy you at all times;
may you be intoxicated always by her love.

Proverbs 5:18-19

1 comment:

  1. "No one is immune to human frailty."
    We can be mildly anoyed or outraged by this but all touched by this need our prayers