More than 300 years ago, three young girls in Salem, Massachusetts accused three women in the community of supernaturally “afflicting” them, resulting in the girls’ bizarre and disturbing behavior. Thus began a series of events that eventually led to the execution of 20 people for witchcraft. Historians are still debating what caused an entire village to lose its collective mind.
In recent weeks, I have seen several references to the ongoing sexual harassment revelations about a series of high-profile men referred to as a “witch hunt.” While there is little comparison between innocent people and actual offenders, I can understand the use of the term. From the #MeToo movement to the outing of past crimes to the widespread feeling that something needs to be done to purge the evil among us, there is a growing sense of panic bordering on hysteria. Who’s going to be the next accuser? The next accused?
If I were a man, particularly one in the public eye, I would be feeling nervous right now. Even if I did not believe I had ever behaved improperly toward a woman, I would worry about the woman who “felt” as though I did, since these days “feeling” that something is true is often all it that is required to actually make it true.
I’m Not Excited to See Wickedness
On December 7, Al Franken announced he is resigning from the U.S. Senate. Franken is obviously guilty of demonstrating utter contempt and disrespect for women. He is also a symbol of both Hollywood and the political left. So you might expect someone like me—a conservative, Christian woman—to take a bit of satisfied glee in seeing yet another sexual domino fall.
I don’t. I’m sick of it.
I say this as someone who believes God meant it when he said, “Thou shalt not commit adultery” and that adultery consists of a whole lot more than cheating on your spouse. Martin Luther, in his “Large Catechism,” explained it this way:
But because among us there is such a shameful mess and the very dregs of all vice and lewdness, this commandment is directed also against all manner of unchastity, whatever it may be called; and not only is the external act forbidden, but also every kind of cause, incitement, and means, so that the heart, the lips, and the whole body may be chaste and afford no opportunity, help, or persuasion to inchastity.
In other words, “Thou shalt not commit adultery” means “Thou shalt not be unchaste,” with unchastity defined as sexual activity that occurs outside the covenant of marriage. That means reveling in lustful thoughts for someone not your spouse, engaging in sexual intercourse outside of marriage, and viewing or participating in pornography all break God’s law.
Yet even as I hold a view that many would consider to be impossibly antiquated and unrealistic, I am tired of waking up to see yet another alleged sexual sinner led out into the public square for a fresh round of accusations and shaming.
Outrage Heaped on Calls for Temperance
Now it’s not only men who are getting fingered, but women as well. When Kathie Lee Gifford shared her sadness over her friend Matt Lauer’s firing, calling for a spirit of forgiveness because “we’ve all sinned and fallen short of the glory of God,” Twitter erupted in outrage. Angela Lansbury had to walk back a comment that there are “two sides to this [sexual harassment] coin.”
Meanwhile, the public reactions of shock and disapproval pile up, along with the calls for change. Announcing the news about Lauer on the “Today” show, Savannah Guthrie called the “reckoning that so many organizations have been going through . . . long overdue” and said it “must result in workplaces where all women — all people — feel safe and respected.”
Apparently it’s time for another “national conversation.” How many does this make? I’m sure we’re all going to be much better people when the talking is done.
Curt Anderson has a better idea: put sexual intercourse (and the behaviors that lead to it) back inside the confines of marriage. As he points out, there’s another biblical teaching we would all do well to remember if we want to put out the cultural and moral fire that is rapidly consuming us:
But what the Left misses is the simple fact that once you remove all moral codes, men will in fact behave badly. Count on it. The theological explanation would be the doctrine of ‘original sin.’ The modern explanation would be that ‘men are pigs.’ These two doctrines are essentially the same, just differently described.
In other words, men do bad things, and women do bad things, and they do bad things to each other, and that’s the way it’s going to be until the end of time. That doesn’t mean we shouldn’t try to live good lives. But no amount of national “reckoning” is going to ensure that no one in the world, male or female, ever feels endangered or disrespected again.
Instead of teaching adults how they ought not behave in their workplaces and social interactions, how about we start teaching our children how to behave like ladies and gentlemen?
It’s Time to Admit We All Have a Problem
To those in the entertainment world who have suddenly found a moral compass regarding men objectifying women, you’re a day late and a dollar short. As Michael Cook noted at Mercatornet.com, no one should be surprised at the revelations coming out of the entertainment industry, considering that “the business of ‘inappropriate behaviour’ . . . . is baked into Hollywood’s business model.”
And when it comes to politics, let’s be honest: there are sinners across the political spectrum, and we’re all inclined to give our guy the benefit of the doubt while putting the worst construction on the one we disagree with.
One of the saddest aspects of all this is that the growing parade of shamed celebrity men suggests this pattern of behavior is representative. Maybe it is for those in entertainment and politics. But while I have known a few bad men, I have known far more good ones—men who try, with integrity, to live out their callings to their families, churches, communities, and world. That is probably because I tend to hang around people who take God’s word seriously. That doesn’t mean they don’t ever sin, but it does mean that they acknowledge there is such a thing.
We would all do well to learn and heed that lesson. The first step towards recovery is admitting you have a problem. Perhaps once we quit turning a blind eye to the twisted sexual ethic of the culture in which our children are steeped, we can begin to hold our public figures accountable.