Christian Leaders Use Media Frenzy Over Petraeus Affair to Define Adultery

The headline of one pastor's blog post states: "If it can happen to General Petraeus, it can happen to you!" And so it goes after the recent revelation of an affair between former CIA Director David Petraeus and his biographer Paula Broadwell. Many Christian leaders took the teachable moment as an opportunity to mostly make it clear that an affair is serious – it's adultery.

"Adultery can happen anywhere, to anyone. You do not have to be debonair, suave, handsome, articulate, successful, muscular, and every woman's dream. You can be dull and overweight, unattractive and without a shred of a personality, and still be caught up in this firestorm we call an affair," Pastor Joe McKeever, a former Director of Missions for Southern Baptist churches in New Orleans, wrote in his blog post referencing Petraeus.

"And, you can be mighty in the Lord, successful beyond your biggest dreams, and a warrior for Christ of the first dimension, and still be brought down by adultery," he added.

McKeever then gave a solution out of the Bible for those facing temptation.

"'Flee fornication.' (I Corinthians 6:18)," he wrote. "Don't argue with it, reason with it, discuss its ramifications with the object of your delight, and do not underestimate it. Just run as fast as your little legs will carry you. Get away, quick. Even if the other person will be offended or misunderstand or get angry, nothing matters so much as putting miles between you and this temptation."

Dr. Thom Rainer, president and CEO of LifeWay Christian Resources of the Southern Baptist Convention, took the opportunity to set the record straight about adultery.

"I have heard more than one pundit opine that uncontrolled sex drives are just part of the nature of great leaders. They have such a great drive, we are told, that it is only natural that such drives include unfettered desires for sexual conquests. I even heard a commentator cite adultery as a common characteristic of our great American presidents. The more anemic presidents tended to be those who were faithful to their wives," Rainer stated.

"Adultery is not a sign of strength. It is a sign of weakness. Adultery is not an indicator of healthy adulthood. It's an indicator of juvenile behavior. Adultery is not a sign of self-controlled leaders. It's a sign of out-of-control leaders. Adultery is not the badge of great leadership. It's the badge of failed leadership," he explained.

Rainer wrote that ultimately adultery is not a matter of triumph, but a matter of failed trust.

He ended his blog post by asking the question, "How can we believe what that leader says when he has deceived and lied to the person who is supposed to be closest to him?"

In a guest blog posted at The Christian Post, Rainer added that he is disgusted with the way the pundits have been discussing the impact of an affair by a leader.

"The typical perspective regurgitated about the Petraeus and Broadwell affair is that, outside of the security concerns, it's really no big deal. After all, it is argued, this relationship is a private matter between two consenting adults," Rainer stated. "That's garbage. It is not a private matter.

"Their two spouses are undoubtedly wounded and humiliated. Children are innocent victims who try to grasp with the strains and perhaps destruction of the secure world they knew when all was well with their parents. Other family and friends are hurt as well."

This week, many media outlets skipped discussion about the serious repercussions of adultery and instead focused on online and email security.

"What caught Petraeus out was, of all things, his usage of Google's online email service, Gmail," wrote Zack Whittacker for ZDNet. "This has not only landed the former CIA chief in hot water but has ignited the debate over how, when, and why governments and law enforcement agencies are able to access ordinary citizens' email accounts, even if they are the head of the most powerful intelligence agency in the world."