In a world that brings everything low, we strive to live as a city on a hill, a church awash not in sin but in purity, pleading with fellow sinners to trust Christ.
The news stories about the depraved actions of Hollywood producer Harvey Weinstein against a litany of women continue to drop. The reports on Weinstein mirror others of recent vintage surrounding figures like Anthony Weiner, Ben Affleck, Casey Affleck, Roger Ailes, Bill Cosby, Bill O’Reilly, and Donald Trump. As one example of legions, video surfaced a bit ago of Jimmy Kimmel daring women to act in a sexual manner toward him on camera. Kimmel, now something of a cultural prophet, being the figure who years back gleefully featured women in uncompromising positions on his television material.
I was reminded this week: we’ve all been sold a lie, and our society has participated in a lie. We have been told from many angles that, once we lose the constraints of sexual order and moral philistinism, we’ll all be happy. Men and women can do what they want with whomever they want. Men will treat women with respect; women will be able to use their sexuality as power, and strike back against chauvinism once and for all. But this is not what is playing out in America. Absent moral duties and religious constraints, men are behaving horribly, and women are by and large unprotected. Men are preying on women; women are taken advantage of.
You cannot miss the connection between the behavior of a figure like Weinstein and our permissive sexual ecosystem. Think about the accessibility of pornography in a culture like ours; think about the immoral movies and television shows of today, with nudity and even rape scenes a commonality in programming (with some Christian leaders eagerly, and jaw-droppingly, commending shows like Game of Thrones); think about the anything-goes culture of the modern collegiate campus (anything except the lack of consent); think about how sexualized so very many things needlessly are, from Maytag commercials to Sports Illustrated issues to Audible billboards. Neo-paganism has not crept all throughout America with a bang; it has, like poisonous gas, seeped into our homes, our apartments, our workplaces, even our churches.
I do not make this connection to excuse Weinstein. If what is alleged of him is true, he has no excuse. No sinner has an excuse before a holy God. Weinstein appears to be a sexual predator. He is an example of what the sinful man, arrayed in power and protected by myriad political and cultural gatekeepers, would do if he could. Harvey Weinstein horrifies us. He does so all the more because we recognize in his crimes resonance with the wild, ungodly influences that course through our own Adamic blood.
What a purgation these reports should be for us all. How we should use this moment to flee from unrighteousness and moral compromise and a long, slow, easy acceptance of evil. Every time we click on a graphic image, every time we excuse our watching of a show that does nothing to edify us and everything to soften our zeal for God, every time we demean women or encourage them to buy into a sexualized version of themselves, we too are participating in this sexual dystopia. We are seating ourselves at a banquet table, the only course of which is dog’s vomit.
Praise God, we have alternatives. We have the alternative. We can create something better, as Gavin Peacock and I have argued. We can create cultures of purity. We can train young men to be self-sacrificial, Christlike leaders who bless women instead of abusing them (Ephesians 5:22-33). We can train young women to flee ungodly, wicked men, and to reject a culture of sexual exhibitionism while embracing modesty and God-defined beauty. We can help all the church see that their identity, the core of their being, is not sexual, but spiritual. We are made to know God. We are his image-bearers (Genesis 1:26-27). Sex is a good gift, made exclusively for marriage, but it is not the reason we walk this earth, and it comes laughably short of meeting the deepest appetites of the human heart and soul.
In 2017, even as our culture embraces a pagan sexual ethic, God is doing something of his own. He is building a kingdom. He is calling out a people for himself, a people made up of those who have fled immorality as a squirrel flees the fox, and who cling to Christ as a dying man clings to life. We are not lax about sexual sin. We see how it is destroying many around us, and we will not be ruined. We do not excuse it or okay it; we hunt it down with a vengeance (Col. 3:1-11).
This is not all we do. In love, we reach out to those whose eyes are glazed and whose conscience is dulled. In a world that brings everything low, we strive to live as a city on a hill, a church awash not in sin but in purity, pleading with fellow sinners to trust Christ.
There is no time like now.
Sodom and her sons, we know, are not long for this world.