And really, what happens anywhere and everywhere will come to light.
I debated as to whether I should wait until after the month of December and the Christmas season to blog about this, but in light of almost daily emerging stories I decided we should talk about it. After all, Jesus is the hope of the world and the light of life that entered into the darkness of fallen humanity. Maybe we will come to love the light of this Christmas season even more, as we name the darkness for what it is.
So, I have to (not just want to, but HAVE to) address the very sad and evil stories that have come to the public’s attention in recent weeks. More stories emerge as time goes on. What they all have in common are the sexual predatory behaviors of (mostly) men in power.
Whether it is Hollywood directors, producers, heads of studios, and actors; politicians; the media industry; those in the world of business (and let’s not forget the church has not been immune or innocent); or the home, for far too long, men in positions of power have used that power for sexual manipulation and abuse. To that list could be added athletes and musicians as well. Those with power, fame, status, prestige, and money have tendencies toward the misuse and abuse of those things.
It is not without reason that money, sex, power, and pride are among the chief vices of history. It is not without cause that Christianity has always warned against them. That pride is the cardinal sin and that love of money, abuse of power, and misuse of mammon ($$$) are the deadly sins.
I am as disturbed and disgusted as you are at the growing number of stories that are coming out against perpetrators and predators. I won’t mention the names that have been in the news these past few weeks. You know who they are. As one victim finds the courage to have her voice heard, a growing chorus of voices are heard. I see this as one way the truth of 1 Corinthians 4:5 is being revealed.
An Important Caveat: The United States has a profoundly necessary safeguard in place: Innocent until proven guilty. Everyone is entitled to their day in court for a fair trial. I am grateful for that way. In some cultures, you are guilty until proven innocent. I am also aware that the justice system sometimes seems long and drawn out, as those with power and money find ways to endlessly delay verdicts and justice. End of Caveat.
Let me go much WIDER for a moment and establish the bigger cultural context in which we swim.
When it comes to sex, sexuality, and sensuality, we are a nation in deep trouble. On these things, there are few (if any) moral boundaries. On these things, the Christian ethic is seen as dated and even harmful. On these things, the choices of personal pleasure are about the only criteria guiding an individual.
North America in the 21st century has a new norm for sexuality that would make the ancient Roman Emperor Caligula either blush or (more likely) applaud.
Our culture provides sexual stimulation at every turn.
In our culture, women especially, but men as well, are turned into objects of sexual desire.
These days, sex, sexiness, and stimulating beauty sell everything.
Casual sex turns into sex for entertainment, and eventually, promiscuous sex. Abusive sex and exploitative sex are next steps taken by some. And as the stories are showing, it is an oft-taken step.
Pornography is omnipresent. It is degrading and debasing of human dignity. It promotes the lie that exploitative sex is desired by women (and men).
In this context, is it any wonder that those with power and money think they can be perpetrators and predators and get away with it? It is long past the time where anyone should get away with these things.
I want to add a crucial theme into this story. I do not think we can condemn, confront, or eventually change exploitative sexuality if we do not find some sanity about casual and promiscuous sex. There is a sexual insanity that has become the new norm. Exploitation is inevitable in such a culture. It is evil, but inevitable.
So, where is there hope? Where does a future of sexual sanity and sanctity (a far better word to use) lie and how will it emerge? Forgive me if I am not optimistic about the government or intellectual elite leading us to a better way; nor for that matter, higher education. They are all plagued with the disease and unable or unwilling to return to a better way.
Even though it is now passé, the Judeo-Christian ethic of sexuality is still a good, true, and beautiful thing.
Sex and sexuality is a wonderful gift created by God and designed for the context of marriage. That is still very good.
Chastity before marriage is God’s norm. That is still very good.
Sexual fidelity in marriage is God’s norm. That is still very good.
God forgives, cleanses, heals, and renews those who have been both victim and victimizer in matters of sexuality. Grace is more powerful than guilt and shame. God’s love is more powerful than lust. God’s love is mighty to save all who are broken and trapped. Fresh starts, second chances, and new beginnings surrounding the harms and hurts of sexuality are all God’s norm. All of this is still very good.
And what about the church? Simply this: We are to be a new community of holiness, charity, respect, dignity, and integrity in all male-female relationships. We are to be a community where everyone is safe, valued, and treated with dignity. We are brothers and sisters in Christ.
As we do this very well, we become an alternative community for others—for those tired of the craziness and the hurt, and for those looking for a much better way.
I leave you with Hebrews 4:13 for your final consideration:
Nothing in all creation is hidden from God’s sight. Everything is uncovered and laid bare before the eyes of him to whom we must give account.
Having the ability to empower and resource leaders to bear much fruit that lasts. Being a part of a team of friends and missional servants committed to changing the world.