In the midst of the Congressman Anthony Weiner episode I heard a news channel commentator argue Rep. Weiner got into his sexting scenario because he was a “driven personality.” The commentator went on to suggest that certain personality types were more open to affairs and more likely to get caught with their pants down because of how they’re wired. In other words, the commentator attempted to explain Rep. Weiner’s behavior in psychological terms.
Later, I heard other news pundits reach for psychological constructs and language to explain why a spate of political and other leaders have gotten themselves into sex scandals. To hear these people tell it, these men can all be seen coming down the walk if we just know what to look for in their instincts for leadership. To prove their points the pundits trot out all the examples that seem to fit their hypotheses: FDR, JFK, Bill Clinton, John Edwards, et al.
I don’t doubt psychological issues influence people. While I don’t believe in determinism I do believe Nature, which is to say our environmental background, helps form and affect us. I also believe in the influence of Nurture, the set of values we’re taught, internalize, and choose to live by. I don’t believe anyone is simply a product of his or her chemicals or social wiring.
It seems to me, the real issue with Congressman Weiner, the recently resigned shirtless Congressman Chris Lee, and a host of others is that these men made choices. Their problems are not for the most part psychological but moral, which is to say spiritual. They live in a society that is much more open to men or women making sexually immoral choices than it was in the days of JFK, much less FDR. They are living in the post-Clinton era when sex is something one does that’s somehow outside the boundaries of who you are and what your responsibilities may be.
I don’t know Congressman Weiner, but I can say with reasonable certainty that he has a sin problem. Not “personal demons” outside his control. Not some victimhood reaching back to his youth. But a series of choices on his part to follow his sexual urges wherever they may lead, even after his recent marriage. He admitted to 6 women, which experiences tell us means there are likely several more. Rep. Weiner isn’t acting beyond his control. He is doing exactly what he wanted to do, even if now he regrets being caught.
He said he loves his wife but not enough to discontinue his immoral and highly risky activity. He said, “It’s a private matter,” yet he’s a Congressman who wants to be known and respected and influential. He said he did not break the law, which is as vacuous as the old “There’s no controlling legal authority” argument Al Gore used to cover his poor choices.
Congressman Weiner and virtually all the others we’ve heard about reaching back a few months, Tiger Woods, Arnold Schwarzeneggrer, Mark Sanford, James E. McGreevey, John Ensign, David Vitter, Larry Craig, Dominique Strauss-Kahn, many more in politics, sports, entertainment, corporate, even religion, are individuals who have made wrong choices. They aren’t psychologically impaired. They’re spiritually disconnected from God and a morality that is good for them and everyone around them. This observation sounds judgmental, but actually, it’s kind.
Blaming our lifestyle on psychological wiring or chemistry, as media are inclined to do, suggests our lives are beyond our own influence. If this is true, we’re hopeless.
On the other hand, if a person is free to make wrong choices, i.e. sin, than he or she is free to make good or proper choices, i.e. act rightly or righteously, which is to say there is hope. There is hope for Congressman Weiner and all the other men listed herein who are still living, if they acknowledge their sin, repent, and walk differently.
If they did this it would take time to rebuild trust with spouses, family, the public, if indeed some ever trusted them again. In most cases, they would lose their current opportunity to lead. But in time, many people would trust them again because human beings are more forgiving than they’re usually given credit.
It all depends on the one in the middle, in this case, Anthony Weiner. If he buys into the idea he’s a victim or the idea he’s controlled by forces beyond his influence, he’s toast. If he owns his behavior and chooses a different path, there’s hope.
What’s causing so many leaders to have affairs? Not their personality type but sin, their choices to chase what they want when they want it no matter the consequences.
© Rex M. Rogers – All Rights Reserved, 2011
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