The Petraeus Scandal: an Opportunity Missed

When General Petraeus resigned last week as head of the CIA for a extramarital affair, America’s fighting force lost a role model.  Widely admired inside and out of the military, the four-star won over those from both political parties and was frequently mentioned as a future presidential candidate.  There are few moral no-no’s in government service and an official said Sunday that the affair broke no laws.  But those in the clandestine services with closeted skeletons are a national security threat.  A secret affair with his biographer made the general a potential blackmail target for foreign operatives.

When my son was a cadet at West Point he had the privilege of hearing the general speak at his alma mater.  Petraeus was part of the Long Gray Line when he began to court the superintendant’s daughter.  The online picture of them on the Plain shows a fresh, corn-silk haired beauty.  They married 38 years ago, and surprise, surprise, both of them aged.  Children and the decades take their toll on every woman’s youth and looks (like age + male pattern baldness + donuts do to men).

Paramour Paula Broadwell has described herself as a fitness fanatic and although details about motivation are still sketchy, this much I know: a woman near 60 who’s given birth to several children can’t compete with a woman in great shape who’s 20 years her junior.  Perhaps there were problems in the marriage.  I mean, before all this.  No matter, this is a truism: men instinctively notice attractive women and all his life, a husband will daily see women who are younger and “prettier” than the one he goes home to.  Each one he sees is an opportunity.  No, not that kind.

In another era God stopped answering the prayers of Jewish men because they were tossing their aging wives overboard for younger women.  …the Lord was witness between you and the wife of your youth, to whom you have been faithless, though she is your companion and your wife by covenant (Malachi 2:14).  “You made a covenant!” God thundered against the straying husbands.  “You promised!”  You promised to love her in sickness and in health, in wealth and poverty, in youth when you couldn’t take your eyes off of her, as well as in her aging years when she has wrinkles like you do. “You promised, and I was there when you did.”

Because of the promise a man makes to his beloved before God, whenever he sees a woman that captivates him, it’s an opportunity to reinforce his heart.  Instead of letting it meander unchecked and entertain “what if?”, a Christian man uses the opportunity to Keep [his] heart with all vigilance, for from it flow the springs of life (Prov.4:23).  It’s like working out; each time we properly exercise the heart, the muscle gets stronger.   No man can do this on his own, but we who have been born from above, are empowered by the indwelling Holy Spirit.  True, we can still sin, but because Jesus broke its power at the the cross (Rom.6:22), we DO NOT HAVE TO.

What Satan sells married men is a hoax: a different woman will make life better.  I doubt the general has found that to be true.  His wife is “beyond furious” and I can only imagine the reaction of his daughter who was recently married.  Will she trust her new husband?  The director of the CIA lost a job he very much loved.  And his popularity lies in ruins.  Opportunity…, lost.