Thursday, May 20, 2010

GOP Congressional sex scandals

With Mark Souder's admission this week-- of an affair with a staff member-- an old and intermittent but sobering pattern continues to unwind.

There are a surprising number of sex scandals among members of our government-- most notably, the U.S. Congress-- more notably still, by Republicans (given their "conservative" policy positions)-- and more notably still, by "family values" Republicans (why is this frequency significantly greater than zero?).

(Parenthetically, it's worth noting that Democrats certainly have their share of weird scandals-- sexual and otherwise-- with odd/hypocritical outcomes. Recent examples include the massive carbon footprint of famous "environmentalists" and Richard Blumenthal's lies about his supposed service in Vietnam [hat tip: Hoosier Pundit for providing a link to a more comprehensive story to this by National Review's Jim Geharty]. And then, there are the more bi-partisan examples: Clinton/Gingrich in the 1990s and Studds/Crane in the 1980s.)

To broaden this a bit, it's seemingly odd that "family values" cultural warriors (FVCW) ever end up in these outcomes-- something that makes me wince whenever I see a FVCW in action, encourages me to pray for them, and on occasion, to warn them candidly about the apparent dangers of their cause.

But all of this begs some questions: Why did Mark Souder do this? And why does this happen so/too often to FVCW's?

For Souder in particular, it's interesting that he reneged on his "term limits" commitment and then dramatically failed with respect to the even larger commitment to his wife and his professed Christian faith. And it's interesting that, by all accounts, he was not principled as a fiscal conservative-- although he claimed the mantle.

Taking this to the realm of (spiritual) disciplines, if one is not committed and principled in one area, this tends to spill into other areas. As such, people can move into hypocrisy which is built on an explicit or implicit gnosticism-- the assumption that parts of one's body or mind do not affect other parts. (For example, if I can never say "no" to a second piece of pie, I'll be less likely to control my anger.)

Do FVCW'ers fall into these sins because they are more prone to these temptations from the outset? Perhaps they see the dangers and want someone/something to relieve them and others of this temptation. Or do they fall into what would otherwise be a foreign temptation-- out of increased familiarity with it and/or out of an increasing hubris that they don't engage in that sin?

What about politicians? At least for individuals in Congress, I don't imagine that it's the weight of their work; many others have far weightier tasks.

But like others who travel a lot, they are less rooted in true community. Like those who work long hours, including many in the evening, they are less rooted in family and marriage. Like those with "power", they will be pursued by sycophants who want something from them and they are increasingly prone to see themselves in a self-deceiving way. And as those who exercise (political) power over others, it would not be shocking to see them exercise (personal) power over others when it's expedient.

One other thought: Some people avoid sin because they live with circumstances which make sin less likely. For example, I had lunch with a friend who half-joked that he avoided a lot of sexual temptation because he's "ugly and fat". Along those lines, money, looks, power, etc. all serve to increase opportunities for great and horrible outcomes.

So, there but for the grace of God go you and I, right?


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