Last week I shared some thoughts last week about this tsunami of sexual harassment situations… and it doesn’t seem to be slowing down. Two days ago, Michigan Congressman John Conyers resigned following a series of allegations. Today, Minnesota Senator Al Franken was scheduled to release a statement, and the indications are that he, too, will resign. These transgressions are by no means limited to those on the left. Bill O’Reilly was forced out of his position at the top of conservative media. And next Tuesday’s special election down in Alabama involves a very conservative Republican – Roy Moore – who has been accused by multiple women of sexual misconduct with minors. (True, these cases have not been litigated but evangelical Christians should take extreme caution where there is carnal smoke. Uncritical support of him can do great harm to the Gospel witness in our country).
Yesterday, Time‘s Person of the Year was revealed: Not an individual, but women labeled as “The Silence Breakers: The Voices that Launched a Movement.”
I ended last week’s thoughts by saying these widespread and prominent examples of sexual misconduct shouldn’t be all that surprising. They’re the product of mixing Pride, Lust and Power, which provides the Opportunity.
Pride? Well, it’s the foundation of ALL sin. It’s the root of Adam and Eve eating of the fruit in the garden. C. S. Lewis wrote, “Pride leads to every other vice; it is the complete anti-God state of mind.” No one is immune; every human heart is infected.
Lust? This is a WHOLE ‘NOTHER topic that demands serious attention, but for now, let me just point out some shocking stats and offer a sober conclusion: 80% of men 18-30 admit to watching porn regularly. That only goes down to 50% for men over 50. One survey indicated that 31% of women watch porn weekly! The porn industry brings in more revenue than Hollywood, and more than pro football, basketball and baseball combined! One might say it is the most consumed “recreation” in America. Conclusion: relationships and families – the heart of a healthy society – are in a devastating spiral, and the Church is not immune. Porn is killing marriages; porn is rewiring brains of pre-teen boys. Porn introduces and fuels all kinds of twisted fantasies which given the Opportunity, unleashes even more destruction on other lives. When any number of these powerful men insisted that a young, beautiful employee or aspiring actress meet him in his hotel room or office, and then – Oops, I forgot I have no clothes on – it doesn’t take a rocket-scientist to conclude that his fantasy, that she would immediately jump him, was introduced through porn. Porn breaks down mental barriers by deadening sensitivities and dehumanizing its pursuit of satisfaction.
[MEN (especially): YOU ARE PLAYING WITH FIRE. IT WILL BURN YOU, AND CAUSE SERIOUS COLLATERAL DAMAGE. BUT YOU’RE NOT ALONE, SO SHARE YOUR STRUGGLE WITH ANOTHER GUY. You want a safe place? Show up on Wed night at 7pm for Celebrate Recovery].
What the stories of these dethroned men have in common is Power that provided the Opportunity. (This is why last week I shared some boundaries I keep in my life and ministry. By virtue of my position, I’ve been granted a measure of authority, analogous to ‘Power’).
These men saw a path for the flesh to be gratified, for lust to satisfied (which never happens), for fantasy to be realized… and wielded Power to get it. One does not have to be a U.S. Senator, or media mogul, or corporate executive. Every organization has some modest hierarchy; some persons have more power than others. Some decision makers (e.g., a diner manager or a hotel supervisor) can affect others’ ability to earn a living. This suddenly-revealed sin pattern has universal roots. There’s nothing new under the sun.
How do we process these contemporary developments?
- Guard yourself against self-righteousness. You’re susceptible to similar sins. Your weakness may not be lust for sex; it may be lust for approval, for money, for comfort and pleasure.
- Study and then face head-on the reality and power of sin in you. Don’t play around. If you don’t kill sin’s root, it will kill you. Confess it to another. Seek the help and support of spiritual community.
- Don’t be a fool. There’s a reason Paul writes, “Flee sexual immorality.” Run. Escape. Assess your social and work contexts and note vulnerable situations, even if you aren’t actively tempted.
- Look deeply and regularly, at the treasure of the Gospel, at the overflowing promises of God. Real and lasting satisfaction of every desire can only come through faith in Jesus Christ as Savior and Lord. David wrote in Psalm 16 this prayer: “You make known to me the path of life; you will fill me with joy in your presence, with eternal pleasures at your right hand.” It takes the power of the Holy Spirit and your intentional attention and effort to truly believe this, and rest on it, and live consistently by this!
Grace be with you,