Every day we are bombarded with new allegations of sexual abuse and harassment by celebrities, corporate executives and politicians. The list is long. Perhaps it started with Bill Cosby, then Harvey Weinstein, Kevin Spacey, Bill O’Reilly, Roger Ailes and others. The list is growing by the day.

How did we get into the mess? How did we sink so low?

It seems to be a “frog in the kettle thing.” You know, if you place a frog in boiling water, it will immediately jump out and save itself. But if you place a frog in room temperature water, it will rest there as you gradually raise the heat until the frog eventually cooks and dies. It is unaware of the danger and does not jump out.

Maybe it was the mid-1950s that our sexual mores began to gradually change. Our commitment to marriage started to slip. Divorce and remarriage, multiple times, became acceptable. Consensual sex began to replace the covenant monogamous relationship that had guided sexual standards.

I don’t think there is any single source to blame. TV sitcoms gradually adopted the consensual sex standard and portrayed it easily and somewhat attractively. We went from “Father Knows Best,” “The Nelsons,” “I Love Lucy” and “Leave It to Beaver” to “Friends” (with benefits), “Seinfeld” and “The Big Bang Theory” and a whole slew of daytime soap operas. Movies portraying casual sex are too numerous to list. “Sleeping around” became entertaining and acceptable.

“Fifty Shades of Grey” was originally self-published as an eBook in 2011. The book includes erotic scenes of bondage/discipline, dominance/submission and sadism/masochism. It became a best seller around the world with 125 million copies sold by 2015, the fastest selling paperback of all time in the United Kingdom.

Pornography, once only available in seedy newsstands, became a click away on laptops, PCs, iPads and tablets. Email inboxes were bombarded by invitations to smut.

Repeated moral failure on the part of national leaders undermined our moral standards further. Bill Clinton’s sexual tryst in the Oval Office, chief among them. Of course, President Trump’s recorded “locker room language” didn’t help. The world and our culture will likely continue down this path. But God calls followers of Christ to a different path, a different standard, a healthier way of life.

The standard set by Jesus has always been the same. David P. Gushee, noted Christian ethicist stated it best: “What is the sexual ethics standard that applies to followers of Christ? Celibacy outside of lifetime covenantal marriage, monogamous fidelity within lifetime covenantal marriage. That norm applies to all Christians. It is demanding, countercultural and essential to the well-being of adults and children.”

Jesus was clear in setting the bar high when it came to sexual standards. “You have heard it said, ‘You shall not commit adultery.’ But I say to you, he who looks on a woman to lust after her has already committed adultery with her in his heart” (Matthew 5:27-28).

Bill Tinsley reflects on current events and life experience from a faith perspective. Visit www.tinsleycenter.com. Email bill@tinsleycenter.com.

(2) comments

Priscilla Files

With all due respect, does the writer think sexual harassment and assault is a phenomenon of the past 50 years???!!! Or that it’s unusual in Christianity and other religions? Shall we break open a bible and start counting rapes of women of conquered lands? The column shows a fundamental lack of understanding that these actions are about assumed privilege, power and lack of respect, not about social mores. This is nothing new - and unfortunately a common occurrence. I joined in the #metoo trend thinking specifically of two instances, then that brought up inappropriate actions of a couple of former bosses, strangers stopping me while I was jogging, etc. This is nothing new, it’s just that women (and men) just aren’t willing to put up with it any longer.

Carlos Ponce

I am reminded of Casablanca:
Rick: How can you close me up? On what grounds?
Captain Renault: I'm shocked, shocked to find that gambling is going on in here!
[a croupier hands Renault a pile of money]
Croupier: Your winnings, sir.
Captain Renault: [sotto voce] Oh, thank you very much.
Captain Renault: Everybody out at once!
Bill Tinsley starts with Bill Cosby but it did not start there.
Nor did it start with Bill Clinton: "I did not have sex with that woman..."
Nor Ted Kennedy's sexcapades which continued long after the death of Mary Jo Kopechne.
Nor brother John's sexcapades in the White House.
Nor what General Hooker's men in Washington DC did with women during the Civil War. (Hint: An "occupation now bears his name)
Nor Thomas Jefferson's alleged sexual appetite with one of his slaves.
James Earl Carter was a lousy president but he admitted his lust for women.
Is every sitting senator and representative a saint? No. But Christianity offers forgiveness and repentance for all.
As Pope Francis said of a repentant sinner, "Who am I to judge?" He was not condoning the man's sexual behavior in the past but acknowledging his sincere repentance from sin.
Forgiveness is one thing but paying the price in courtrooms is separate from that. Removing the reluctance women and yes, some men have in reporting predatory activities is the beginning of a solution. Reporting it mere weeks before an election when it happened decades ago does not look right and is viewed with suspicion.

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