Monday, June 13, 2011

The Heart Behind Why Powerful Men Sin

Photo Credit: Tony the Misfit
With a number of political figures recently in the news for their sexual misbehavior, there has been an increased dialogue around the reasons behind why those with so much to lose have a difficult time controlling their sexual urges.

Both Time Magazine and The New York Times weigh in on this issue:

From Time:
"By now social commentators have the explanations on auto-save: We know that powerful men can be powerfully reckless, particularly when, like [Dominique Strauss-Kahn], they stand at the brink of their grandest achievement. They tend to be risk takers or at least assess risk differently — as do narcissists who come to believe that ordinary rules don't apply. They are often surrounded by enablers with a personal or political interest in protecting them to the point of covering up their follies, indiscretions and crimes. A study set to be published in Psychological Science found that the higher men — or women — rose in a business hierarchy, the more likely they were to consider or commit adultery. With power comes both opportunity and confidence, the authors argue, and with confidence comes a sense of sexual entitlement. If fame and power make sex more constantly available, the evolutionary biologists explain, it may weaken the mechanisms of self-restraint and erode the layers of socialization that we impose on teenage boys and hope they eventually internalize.

"When men have more opportunity, they tend to act on that opportunity," says psychologist Mark Held, a private practitioner in the Denver area who specializes in male sexuality and the problems of overachievers. "The challenge becomes developing ways to control the impulses so you don't get yourself into self-defeating situations."

Nature matters, but so does nurture. Members of royal families are born into a world of indulgence and entitlement, and the princelings who grow up that way may never have to develop any discipline. Athletes often start life at the opposite end of the wealth-and-prestige spectrum, but as soon as they exhibit an unusual talent for swinging a bat or sinking a free throw, often early in adolescence, they may become a kind of local royalty and find that the rules have been suspended for them. They are waved through school and into the pros, and bad behavior is overlooked or covered up. Any skills they may have been developing for self-control or self-denial quickly deteriorate."
From The New York Times on the difference between men and women who are politicians:
"Research points to a substantial gender gap in the way women and men approach running for office. Women have different reasons for running, are more reluctant to do so and, because there are so few of them in politics, are acutely aware of the scrutiny they draw — all of which seems to lead to differences in the way they handle their jobs once elected.

"The shorthand of it is that women run for office to do something, and men run for office to be somebody," said Debbie Walsh, director of the Center for American Women and Politics at Rutgers University. "Women run because there is some public issue that they care about, some change they want to make, some issue that is a priority for them, and men tend to run for office because they see this as a career path."

Studies show that women are less likely to run for office; it is more difficult to recruit them, even when they have the same professional and educational qualifications as men. Men who run for office tend to look at people already elected "and say, 'I’m as good as that,'"said Jennifer Lawless, director of the Women and Politics Institute at American University here. "Women hold themselves up to this hypothetical standard no candidate has ever achieved."
So why do men in politics sin? The same reason we all do. They have a sin nature just like I do and just like you do.  When you throw in power, money and opportunity, it's not that difficult to figure out why elected officials will betray the trust of their spouses, their families, their constituents and their God for sexual gratification.  Without a heart redeemed by God's grace, we are all in danger of falling prey to the same traps as those in the public eye.

The temptations that we face today are no different than those faced by others for centuries.  The lust of the flesh, the lust of the eyes and the pride of life are still what ensnares us (see I John 2:15-17) and without consistent examination of our own hearts, we, too, will get tripped up.  The gospel of Jesus provides the spiritual heart transplant that we all need.

It is not enough to just focus on the sins we commit but we need to honestly examine the motivation behind why we do the things we do.  When we run to idols (those things that take God's rightful place in our life) for life, comfort and satisfaction, we will never discover fulfillment and will always find heartbreak.  Jesus is not simply interested in changing our behavior so that we can abide by an accepted moral code of ethics.  He wants to change our hearts in order to make us into new people with new desires and a new purpose in life.  Changed behavior may lead to temporal acceptance but a new heart will lead to a changed destiny.


S. Morgan said...

Well said Sir.
Those three: lust of eyes, lust of flesh & pride of life, are the main tools of our enemy the devil when tempting mankind. Mankind also has weaknesses, some of them secret, that seduce him and imprison him.

Without Christ man is a weakling who will give in to the temptation.

“But every man is tempted, when he is drawn away of his own lust, and enticed. Then when lust hath conceived, it bringeth forth sin: and sin, when it is finished, bringeth forth death.” James 1:14-15 (KJV)

I thank God for Jesus!!! The scripture says we can do ALL things through Christ who gives us strength. This means that we can overcome temptation by being disciplined in Christ.

For born-again believers Submission and Obedience become easier when we keep the Word of God fresh in our minds all the time. The scripture says that we must be transformed by the renewing of our minds. Thats a complete mental shift from the way of the world to the way of Christ.

I Praise God for your BLOG and your 'God breathed' posts! Be Blessed.

scottmcrocker said...

Thanks for your kind words, S. Morgan.