Advertisement

Personal and private lives

July 27, 2011

A recent poll by the Public Religion Research Institute has revealed that religious Americans think a financial scandal is worse than a sexual one.

The poll was conducted in the wake of several high-profile cases of politicians making headlines for their sexual behavior, including U.S. Rep. Anthony Weiner, D-N.Y., who resigned after he lied about sexually explicit texts he sent to women he met online. More than 90% of respondents say that a public official taking a bribe is an “extremely” or “very serious” moral problem; more than 80% say the same for a politician who cheats on taxes. But fewer than 70% of Americans polled say it’s a serious moral problem for a public official to have sex with a prostitute. The poll also discovered that people were bothered more about a politician lying to cover up a sex scandal than about the transgression itself.

Daniel Cox, PRRI’s research director, said of the findings, “There’s a dramatic difference when people are evaluating public officials’ financial versus sexual misbehavior. A significant number of folks think they can separate public officials’ personal and public lives.” He believes that people tend to think of sexual misbehavior as personal, and therefore private.

Advertisement

Should religious Americans differentiate between misconduct in this way? And why do you think scandals involving sex are not believed to be as serious as financial ones?

Americans are amazingly tolerant of sexual indiscretions. Going all the way back to when Grover Cleveland was president in the 19th century, he was accused (rightfully so, I think) of fathering an illegitimate child. But he still was elected to a second term. (Interestingly, he is the only president who served two terms non consecutively. After his first term, someone else was elected for four years. Then Cleveland was re-elected to his second term.)

Should “religious Americans” be more critical of those who wander sexually? I don't think so. First of all, to quote Jesus when the woman was caught in adultery, “Let whoever is without sin cast the first stone” (John 8:7).

And in another context, Jesus says that whoever even looks at a woman lustfully has already committed adultery in his heart. Now I won't want to sound like Jimmy Carter, who admitted to having lustful feelings for someone not Rosalyn; but who hasn't admired the physique of someone to whom he/she is not married?

La Canada Valley Sun Articles La Canada Valley Sun Articles
|
|
|