When Good People Do Bad Things

Late last year, the news broke out that Gen. David Petraeus, serving as the director of the CIA, had been conducting an David Petraeus, a good man?extramarital affair.  Obviously, given his position in the government, this was, to say the least, a risky move.  While the fallout of the incident is still being determined, I highly doubt anybody can honestly say that they were unsurprised by it. Petraeus had had such an illustrious career as the cream of the crop when it came to our country’s top military officers. He was selected as the top commander in both Iraq and Afghanistan, and had excelled on each occasion. In addition, he was one of the rare crossovers from the Bush years to still be serving in the Obama administration. Clearly, this man had the skills required to lead effectively in modern America.

In the end, his sins found him out. It appears that he caught the Washington bug pretty bad and simply couldn’t keep it under wraps any longer. He was forced to resign from his post, and end his previously illustrious career. His wife was understandably furious, and he lost all his standing in the public eye. It must seem surreal for Petraeus; he went from being a somewhat talked about presidential hopeful to the bottom of the Z-list of D.C. celebrities.

Lest it seem that only those operating in the secular dimension are vulnerable to immolating their careers in a spectacular funeral pyre, we can just as quickly look at a man like Dinesh D’Souza. He was the author of several Christian books and was the president of The King’s College. Being in the top tier of Christian speakers, he had amassed wide respect. While some may have known that his current marriage was in its closing stages, the situation does not excuse the actions he took during a certain speaking engagement to which he traveled with this fiancée. While admittedly this lies in a bit of gray area, when a marriage has completely ended except for the proverbial signing of the dotted line, it could possibly be permissible to have a designated next-in-line.

However, sharing a hotel room with someone who one is not married to seems a bit forward for any gentleman, Christian or otherwise. Upon the end of the event, when his host expressed his astonishment at the sleeping arrangements, D’Souza informed him that “nothing happened.” This easily conjures up images of a certain President of another organization wagging his finger and declaring his innocence of a particular activity.

How could these men with so much going for them fall so quickly? Quite simply, the answer lies in Genesis chapter 3. Every man in world’s history has found a way to use his God-given free will to work against God. In the beginning of mankind, Adam was given a rather easy life. His job was to tend to a garden and to not eat of one specific tree. One massive garden to roam around in and he was allowed total access except for one tree. Satan tempts his wife, Eve, to eat of the one forbidden tree. She goes for it, and tells Adam to do likewise, which he quickly does. In doing so, he sets the perilous precedent of humans giving in to the temptation to blow it all for momentary satisfaction.

Further, we should not entertain the fallacy that if only we were put into these positions, we would act virtuously. Original sin is now one of the marks of mankind as a whole.  The only thing special about Petraeus and D’Souza is that when they fall, the world knows. However, when one of the “common” people acts in a similar manner, the sin is just as potent. In other words, these men aren’t any worse than you or I.

Free will is the ultimate expression of humanity, for with it we are truly in the image of God. When man uses it to succumb to his base desires, he squanders his abilities and opportunities. However, we should never be taken unawares when even those who have risen to the top of society decide to pay homage to their first ancestor and commit scandalous acts that wreck their futures. There is nothing new under the sun.

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