Before committing adultery with Paula Broadwell, he was director of the CIA under President Barack Obama, but resigned three days after the president’s re-election.
Earlier, Petraeus had served the military with distinction in a number of important positions before being named by President George W. Bush as commander of armed forces in Iraq where he turned the war around within a year.
Then, Petraeus went to Afghanistan where he led effectively. There and in Iraq, he became known as the general who favored the population, forbidding firepower where civilians might be endangered.
However, nine boys gathering firewood in Afghanistan were accidently killed by American forces. General Petraeus apologized to the Afghan nation and to the families of the boys.
The towering question is, why would 60-year-old Petraeus, a very important and successful general, betray his wife, Holly, and his children Anne and Stephen, and the rest of us, by committing adultery?
The answer is, he is human and humanity, apart from Christ, is capable of gross sins.
D.L. Moody, observing a man obviously in sin, said, “There I go but for the grace of God.”
Billy Graham commented: “Many a criminal has finally given himself over to the authorities because the accusations of a guilty conscience were worse than prison bars.”
Petraeus had a guilty conscience.
He discontinued his affair with Paula Broadwell in the summer of 2012 after a six-month tryst. Later, he gave the following apology to his staff: “Such behavior is unacceptable, both as a husband and as a leader of an organization such as ours.” Also, recently he has given a public apology.
Adultery is wrong; it’s sin; it’s breaking one of God’s Ten Commandments, and He will hold anyone accountable for doing so.
On the other hand, “If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just and will forgive us our sins and purify us from all unrighteousness” (1 John 1:9).
Another great leader committed adultery and then murder, trying to cover his flagrant sin. Biblical David, too, had a colorful background.
He said: “When a lion ... carried off a sheep from the flock, I went after it and struck it and rescued the sheep from its mouth. When it turned on me, I seized it by its hair, struck it and killed it” (1 Samuel 17:34, 35).
Another great exploit of David was when he killed the giant Goliath with a sling, cut off the giant’s head with his own sword and was acclaimed a great hero.
Later, David became the greatest king of the Old Testament and was widely acclaimed as a good and just king — until he committed adultery with Bathsheba. Then he had her husband killed, trying to cover his dastardly sin.
Later, guilt set in. Hear his plaintiff cry to God: “Blot out my transgressions. Wash away all of my iniquity and cleanse me from my sin. ... Create in me a pure heart, O God, and renew a steadfast spirit within me” (Ps. 51:1, 2, 10).
We all must be alert to the wiles of Satan.
The Bible says, “If you think you are standing firm, be careful that you don’t fall!” (1 Corinthians 10:12).
By following the Lord closely, we can sing with confidence:
On Christ the solid rock I stand;
All other ground is sinking sand,
All other ground is sinking sand.