Harvey Weinstein. Roy Moore. Louis C. K. And now Bush 41. These men—all successful in their careers—will always be associated with the allegations of sexual misconduct. For some, these accusations will eclipse any other successes they had enjoyed.
The career-shattering effect of these allegations corroborates the Scriptural principle that integrity matters. Solomon put it this way: “Dead flies make the perfumer’s ointment give off a stench; so a little folly outweighs wisdom and honor” (Ecclesiastes 10:1). It’s true: character and conduct are inseparable, whether you’re a politician, an entertainment mogul, or even a comedian.
But there are dangers here for Christians in how we respond to this kind of news.
Avoid the hype: Not all news is worth absorbing.
When we go to our news sources, we don’t see the real world. We see a world that has been presented to us by the various media outlets. These agencies understand what kind of content gets read and shared. And it’s often about the most sordid events. This is what it means to live in a fallen world: hearing about sinful actions committed by sinful people.
But as Christians (simultaneously sinners and saints), who aim to keep our minds and hearts pure, we must know when and how to avoid the hype. We must know that news articles often cross the boundary from informative to provocative. We should be alert that our consumption of the news can easily mutate into a kind of social voyeurism, where we leer at the murky details of people’s lives with a suppressed sort of glee under the guise of staying informed. Instead of taking time to think, to grieve, to pray, to process, and to consider, we simply stare and enjoy our staring.
The Christian response to news avoids that attitude. Even when it comes to the way we read and discuss the news, we must strive for love, which “does not rejoice at wrongdoing, but rejoices with the truth” (1 Corinthians 13:6).
Avoid hypocrisy: Not all responses are worth sharing.
There’s another common danger when reading about these allegations of sexual misconduct. It is easy for us to be like the proud Pharisee in Jesus’ parable: “God, I thank you that I am not like other men: extortioners, unjust, adulterers, or even like Harvey Weinstein, Roy Moore, Louis C. K.” To be clear, we must not be afraid to call sin as it is. We must unqualifiedly condemn the actions of men who wield their power to take sexual advantage of others. Yet, on the other hand, we must recognize that human nature is fundamentally the same in everyone, including ourselves. If given the proper circumstances, anyone is capable of acting on the same sort of lusts, the same greed for power, the same tendency to manipulate other people instead of honoring them.
But when a bright star falls, we find it easy, respectable, and socially gratifying to share a post in which we register our rage against their sexual misconduct. It is much harder—and less flashy—to pray in private for the abusers and the abused. It is even harder to confess and forsake our own sins.
Instead of consuming the news with a leering curiosity, or declaiming others’ sins with a hypocritical self-righteousness, our response toward these events should be informed by the pride-smashing, soul-exulting gospel. The gospel teaches us to say with the repentant tax collector, “God, be merciful to me, a sinner” (Luke 18:13); and with the Apostle Paul “Christ Jesus came into the world to save sinners, among whom I am the foremost” (1 Timothy 1:15). At the same time, God’s grace “train[s] us to renounce ungodliness and worldly passions, and to live self-controlled, upright, and godly lives in the present age.”
Let’s read the news and stay informed. But instead of staring at the lurid details, only to then turn and condemn the filth, let’s avoid the hype and hypocrisy. And then let’s turn to the truth we can never stare at too long—the truth that will directly confront us in our hypocrisy. Our God has spoken. Unlike any of the figures that populate our news and entertainment, his truth will never disappoint.