The Bathsheba Syndrome: The Ethical Failure of Successful Leaders

3912 reads

There are 5 Comments

Bert Perry's picture

Needs a different name, because the name "Bathsheba syndrome" blames her for David's sins.  Ahem.  We really can only guess as to whether she was intimidated into what she did, or whether she was an eager participant, or whether it was somewhere in between.  

I'm no feminist by most peoples' standards, but even I can cringe at that one.

Aspiring to be a stick in the mud.

Ed Vasicek's picture

When I read "Bathsheba Syndrome" I knew exactly what that was, even before reading the article.  Bathsheba was not to blame, but the association between her name and David's behavior is instant.  It might give her a bum wrap, but it communicates accurately and instantly.

"The Midrash Detective"

G. N. Barkman's picture

How do we know that? 

I think the most we can say is that we do not whether or not she must share some of the blame.  To acknowledge that David is to blame is not to remove Bathsheba from any portion of blame.  We really don't know what, in detail, was involved in her bathing in plain sight of the roof-top patio of the King's palace, but the possibility of blame can hardly be denied.

G. N. Barkman

Bert Perry's picture

....sure, she could have been guilty, and sure, that's a name we clue in to, but that's not who Nathan rebukes.  No?  And really, the point here was to discuss why powerful men fall into sin, which makes it quite odd to use a woman's name to describe the phenomenon.

To make it really fun, we could use the name of a powerful person who's suffered huge setbacks due to infidelity at least twice--"Donald Trump Syndrome".  Only trouble is that a lot of people would be thinking about other things he's done besides cheating on Ivana and Marta.

Aspiring to be a stick in the mud.

Dan Miller's picture

Since success is the prerequisite for this “syndrome,” every man who falls for this will probably have many other things they are famous for (at least famous in their circle). Those things will make it tough to use their name for the syndrome. I agree with Ed-David is famous for a lot of things: Goliath, Psalms, Mighty Men, shepherding, running from Saul, being the most prominent historical and Christological king, etc. Bathsheba is famous for pretty much that one story. 


Anyway, thanks for the link. Great article. Reminds me of two things:

1. A quote from Owen’s Mortification:

Thoughts are the great purveyors of the soul to bring in provision to satisfy its affections; and if sin remain unmortified in the heart, they must ever and anon53 be making provision for the flesh, to fulfill the lusts thereof. They must glaze, adorn, and dress the objects of the flesh, and bring them home to give satisfaction; and this they are able to do, in the service of a defiled imagination, beyond all expression.

The idea is that our old man, our flesh, will always be working to suggest temptations to us. 

2. An idea from the movie Inception. In their dreams they lost a sense of implausibility. When something happened, no matter how odd, it was accepted by most dreamers as normal. 

I think there’s an element of that in the way these types of temptations come to the minds of successful men and women. 

Take the Bill Hybels accusations. The fascinating thing (to me) about the stories those women told is that it seems that they loved (in Christ) and greatly respected (professionally) Bill. And in the end, what seems to have saved Bill and these women was his Godly influence on their life. They all knew staying was wrong and acted to get out quickly and decisively. So while he seems to have discipled others, he somehow lost hold of the implausibility that forming a relationship outside his marriage would bring anything but guilt and suffering.