This morning I woke up to some distressing news. Apparently, there’s still a war going on in Afghanistan. I couldn’t tell, what with all the news about David Petraeus and his “Love Pentagon” with Paula Broadwell, General John Allen, Jill Kelley, and Frederick W. Humphries II.
So, let’s talk about that. No, wait… I have a better idea. This isn’t where I post political rants (I do that at The Blahg). This is where I talk about theological stuff. “Rubber meeting the road” Christianity. “Theology with Shoes On” (That would be a good subtitle for this page.) So, let’s talk about something for a moment.
I make a concerted effort in my life to not pull a “Swaggart” and blast any ministry with whom I have the slightest disagreement. (See what I just did there?) And I’ve only called out this guy ONCE before in my life, but it was because he was SO WRONG, a response was needed (that, and I had a bunch of people on FB, Twitter and IRL ask me what I thought). But, now Pat Robertson has done it again.
Now, to be fair, many of the bloggers and other news agencies have taken only a portion of what he said and used it against him. This much is true. But let’s examine ALL that he said.
When introducing a segment on the Petraeus “scandal” (what, does NOBODY remember Clinton? He didn’t have to resign. Anyway…) on the November 13th episode of The 700 Club, Pat Robertson said this:
The guy is brilliant. He’s got a Ph.D. from Princeton. He’s got Four Stars. He’s written a book on counter-insurgency. He’s the acknowledged expert in the world. He’s one of the greatest generals America has ever produced… and yet he can’t keep his pants zipped.
A little crude, yes, but a fair representation of the particulars. After a standard news package, Pat returned to say this:
You know, folks… I don’t use e-mail – thank the Lord! – but everybody else does. My wife uses e-mail. But those things are public. [He then spends some time railing against teen stupidity, but then gets back on track] But these guys are generals! What are they thinking when they send an e-mail! Good grief! At least they could make telephone calls … All of those things are searchable! And it seems like there’s no way you can get rid of them. … Why would they be so stupid as to do it?
Good call, Pat. Way to help the people know that, if you’re going to be an immoral person who betrays his family, company and calling… At least do it over the phone so there’s no record.
On a different episode (Monday, Nov. 12th ???) Pat said this:
[Broadwell] is an extremely good-looking woman. She is a marathon runner. She’s run Iron-Man triathalon’s. So she’s out running with him. And she’s writing a biography. And, uh, I think the term is “propinquity”, and there was a lot of “propinquity” going on. (chuckles)
Just so you don’t have to look it up, like I did, Propinquity is defined as “physical or psychological proximity between people.” The “Propinquity Effect” basically is that “tendency for people to form friendships or romantic relationships with those whom they encounter often.” So, in plain English, it’s difficult to hang out with someone and not develop strong platonic or romantic feelings for them.
So, what is Pat trying to say here? Is he trying to help us understand what caused the affair? If so, that isn’t necessarily a bad thing. It is helpful to understand motivating factors for people’s behaviors. But listen to what he said next:
The man’s off in a foreign land and he’s lonely and here’s a good-looking lady throwing herself at him. I mean… He’s a man.
I know you don’t believe me… So here’s the video.
Yeah. OK. That’s enough.
Pat… No, Mr. Robertson. Brother. Respected leader of the Church. My friend, you are in gross error here. And it isn’t that you condoned what happened. (If you watch the tapes, he does say that the actions taken by all parties were sinful. Fine.) It’s that you flippantly dismiss it immediately afterward.
God was not flippant about David’s sin with Bathsheba. But let’s look at it 2 Samuel 11 through the “Robertson” lens…
In the spring, at the time when kings go off to war, David sent Joab out with the king’s men and the whole Israelite army. They destroyed the Ammonites and besieged Rabbah. But David remained in Jerusalem. One evening David got up from his bed and walked around on the roof of the palace. From the roof he saw a woman bathing. The woman was very beautiful, and David sent someone to find out about her. The man said, “She is Bathsheba,the daughter of Eliam and the wife of Uriah the Hittite.” Then David sent messengers to get her. She came to him, and he slept with her. I mean… He’s a man.
What are we to suppose? Can we imagine based on Robertson’s rationale that if Broadwell were overweight, or even just NOT a “good-looking” “marathon runner”, that Petraeus would have been able to control himself? Or, worse, that his actions would have then been inexcusable?
No. It was wrong when David did it, it was wrong when Kennedy did it, it was wrong when Clinton did it, it was wrong when Petraeus did it. To say anything else is misleading and makes light of the destruction these people have caused in their families.
Worse, it gives cause for the man (or woman) who is watching your show, contemplating the affair to think, “Well, this is kind of normal, I guess. I mean, I look at her and, there’s a lot of propinquity going on… She’s a good-looking lady, throwing herself at me and, uh… I mean, I’m a man.”
Families are crumbling around us, Pat. So much so that every time you turn around someone is struggling to redefine the term. What you did here is, thankfully, forgivable, but still ridiculous.
Back in September you suggested that a man with a wife who had Alzheimer’s would be justified in seeking a divorce. That same month you laughing suggested that a man who was having legitimate issues of order and unity with his wife “become a Muslim — then you could beat her.” In neither case did you offer words of encouragement or sound scriptural advice. Even if you were joking about the latter (and I think you were) the viewer wrote to you with a legitimate question and you took it as an opportunity to take a pot shot at Muslims.
Bad form, brother. Your actions over the past few months have been so audacious that only Jesus is capable of giving you the facepalm you deserve.
How about this? Instead of having CBN issue statements defending your actions and statements, maybe you should take note of how many times CBN has to issue statements defending your actions and statements. Then decide if you’re being the salt and light that God has called you, and all of us, to be.
For everyone else: God loves you even in your sin. God still loves Petraeus, and Broadwell, and Kelley and ALL of us and wants desperately to save us from our sins, give us new life, and help us to show His love through us. Why? Because He loves us, and we need it so badly. Take that away from this so-called “scandal.”
And just take Pat Robertson away…