How has the Puritan belief that sin cannot be washed away bred hypocrisy in America?

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Ashley Kannan | Middle School Teacher | (Level 3) Distinguished Educator

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I think that this is an interesting question in light of the resignation of General Petraeus from the CIA.  The Puritan belief in how sex is to be seen as fundamentally "bad" governs greatly.  General Petraeus felt the need to resign because he felt his position as national intelligence leader would be compromised by the disclosure of the relationship.  In the end, the perception here is that the Puritan belief of sin being unable to be washed away and that some stain is irrevocable is apparent.  There is not a discussion of what happened in terms of why individuals are compelled to move into a realm that embraces temptation.  There is not an open reflection as to the motivating factors as to why someone would stray.  Rather, it is simply understood that such actions are "bad" and that one must resign immediately to distance themselves from the public judgment.  The perception of public perception is Puritanical, in nature.  The public sees the action as "bad," and thus resigning is needed.  Yet, the pattern continues and there is little discussion in the open about it.  At the same time, the hypocrisy lies in that because there is little discussion and openness in discourse, many more people do the same thing.  If there is a transgression in straying outside of marriage, it happens frequently without a public and open discussion about it.  In this, the Puritanical idea of not disclosing the nature of sin and transgression is evident.  Individuals do not engage in open reflection and discourse, rather seeking to hide and conceal transgression as opposed to understanding it in a way to effectively move past it.  In this, there is a Puritanical streak that breeds hypocrisy in action.

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