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Adultery: A sign of strength or weakness

THE unexpected resignation of General David Patreaus recently as the head of the CIA came as a rude shock to Americans and the world given his impeccable record as a distinguished Military Commander.

Great heroes from the past have not been able to escape this ageless temptation of human folly and self-destruction. Adultery- sexual intercourse between a married person and another or single person-has been described as a sign of strength for the super-achievers, while some see it as a sign of weakness and of the ape in man.

The attitude of man towards adultery has been either sly or strong from the ages.

The attitude of the French to adultery is unique. It is simply sex after all, just as it will be rare to find a French leader resigning because of an ‘extra marital indiscretion’. It is therefore an affair that should have no influence on public life of the adulterer.

The French call this maturity and sophistication that will never be shocked by the rich complexity of life’s temptations.

The French society is said to be devoid of the puritanical guilt of the Anglo-American psyche, and is claimed to have a general ambiguous relationship with the truth. They have strict laws inFrancethat make privacy invasion illegal and punishable.

For example, only recently Straus-Khan, though disgraced and banished from politics, sued a magazine for publishing his photo with his girlfriend and won damages in court.

In Nigeria our own country, because of the mixed-mire created by the traditional  polygamous foundations, the Muslim gates of polygamy, and the Christian Anglo puritan marital values, our leaders and our press have no clearly known attitude to adultery.

The ‘Big Girls’ in power prey on any one they please to satisfy their sexual urges. To the powerful super achievers in our society unbridled sex without restrictions is the reward for success. Students in our tertiary institutions have their records of big public office holders who celebrate their successes with other people’s daughters without shame.

We are yet to hear of any public officer resigning for anything from stealing, financial impropriety and other bad conducts talk less of adultery or what we call extra- marital indiscretion.

Our leaders sleep with women, whether married or not, without blinking an eye. Unlike the French, ours is not as a result of maturity and sophistication, but majorly in response to the primitive and primordial urge for sex.

The list of great leaders and heroes who fell for adultery include Shakespeare, Albert Einstein, John F Kennedy, Dwight D Eisenhower, John Edwards, Tim Mahoney, Paul Wolfowitz, Randall Tobias, Bill Clinton, and now David Petreaus, all of them, great super-achievers.

This has given some the cause to reason that unbridled sexual urges are in the genetic disposition of powerful people. Dr.Desmond Doris posited in his book, The Naked Ape, that men and women are no different from animals, and that the strongest species are genetically predisposed to unbridled sexual urge and a need to dominate. In other words, it is the ape in humans that drive them to sex and adultery.

THE Anglo-American society think that leaders should be held to the highest behavioural standards so that they can be an example to the nation to avoid gutter behaviour.

Leadership is a brand, and needs to be maintained at the highest moral standards.A recent study at the Tilburg University in America, found that there is a relationship between power and infidelity; the more powerful people were, the more they tended to cheat on their partners, and this relationship was directly attributable to the higher levels of confidence reported by more powerful people.

Thus, being less powerful decrease not only a person’s confidence but also his willingness to cheat on his partner. Is this true? The answer is NO!

Adultery can happen anywhere to anyone. You don’t have to be handsome, articulate, successful, muscular or any woman’s dream to be in it.

You can be dull, unattractive, overweight, without personality or charisma, yet caught by the fire stone they call ‘an affair’. You can be mighty in the Lord, tongue speaking, successful beyond your wildest dreams, a great warrior for Christ, and still be brought down by adultery.

The Bible in 1Corinthians 6:18, commands us to “flee from adultery”, don’t argue with it, discuss its ramifications, don’t underestimate it, just run as fast as your legs can carry you. Get away quick even if the other person will be offended or mis-understand or get angry, the wisest of leaders put miles between them and the temptation.

Proverbs 6:32-35 declares: “But a man who commits adultery lacks judgement,whoever does so destroys himself, blows and disgrace are his lot, and his shame will not be wiped away; for jealousy arouses a husband’s fury, and he will show no mercy when he takes revenge, he will not accept any compensation, he will refuse the bribe, however great it is”.

The adulterous daughter of Eve, as an agent, is usually beautifully created ,with good curves at the right places, vastly alluring, richly endowed, name-dropping ambitious female; marriage means nothing to her, but a title and at best a ladder to climb to access her victims, who when once found, would be led like a cow, to the butchery, unknown to the victim, that many have been killed that way!

In Proverbs 5:3-6, the Bible tells us that the lips of the adulteress drip honey, her speech is smoother than oil, but in the end she is bitter as gall, sharp as double edged sword, her feet go down to death and her steps lead straight to grave; she gives no thought to the way of life; her paths are crooked, but she knows it not. Only the simple get caught!

Adultery, therefore, is not a sign of strength, it is a sign of weakness; adultery is not an indicator of healthy adulthood, it is an indicator of wounded juvenile behaviour. Adultery is not a sign of self-controlled leaders; it is a sign of out-of-control leaders. Adultery is not the badge of great leadership; it is the badge of failed leadership. Is there a relationship toNigeria’s leadership situation?

Adultery is never a private matter, it leaves the spouses permanently wounded and in pain of humiliation. The children are worst hit as they remain shattered often devastated, trying to grasp the strange destruction of the secure world they were used to, when their parents were together.

Leaders and powerful persons get involved with this evil for a few reasons; they are usually over-confident, and have inappropriate sense of security which leads them into counter-productive and risky behaviours like adultery.

Leaders are rarely selected on the basis of their integrity, which is ironic given that integrity is a quality that subordinates want in a leader.

Power may corrupt, power itself attracts corrupt people and society pays a cost for the inability to stop mischievous individuals from reaching leadership positions, who sooner or later derail revealing the dark side of their character.

Another reason is that power makes people more attractive to women, because most often, women’s relationship choices are driven more by status than looks, whereas the opposite is true for men, thereby exposing men to more temptations when in power. Finally, powerful people tend to perceive bigger gaps between them and others, including their romantic partners.

This superiority complex increases the probability of acting disrespectfully towards their spouses and thereby legitimizes their cheating behaviours because that sense of feeling better than others, eclipses their feeling of guilt and regret.

The solution is for the society to deliberately increase the proportion of female leaders, while placing higher moral standard requirements on the male leaders. Society must develop a reward system for fidelity. Indeed, good women are generally less confident, more risk-averse, more dutiful, more caring than men, in particular powerful men.

There are usually few cases of famous female infidelity as it is only the whores under marriage cloaks that cheat their husbands. If our leaders will be selected on the basis of their integrity, humility, and empathy, we will have more women in charge and fewer cheats around the corridors of power.

Mr. CLEMENT UDEGBE, a lawyer, wrote from Lagos.


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