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 Nelson’s, I Love Lucy and Leave It to Beaver to Friends (with benefits) Seinfeld and The Big Bang Theory and a whole slew of day-time 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 e-book 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 U.K.
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 life-time covenantal marriage, monogamous fidelity within life-time 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).