I am old enough to remember the concept of “defining deviancy down” made popular by former New York senator, Daniel Patrick Moynihan. “There is always a certain amount of deviancy in a society. But when you get too much, you begin to think that it’s not really that bad. Pretty soon you become accustomed to very destructive behavior.” Our recent national conversion regarding sexual harassment has shown a disturbing deviancy down regarding our sexual ethics and behavior.
It has only been a short time since the New York Times ran its initial report on Hollywood producer Harvey Weinstein’s sexual predation. Rich Lowery of the National Review noted, “It’s difficult to think of any piece of journalism that has wrought such an instant change in American life.” He points out how the model works. “Men with a certain prestige would make gross, aggressive, or even coercive advances on lower-status women, usually young and making their starts in their careers. The men probably considered it a percentage play. Sometimes, their advances might work for their purposes. If not, they assumed that the women would stay silent out of embarrassment or fear. Failing that, the women could be discredited or bought off.”
I personally am not surprised. Theologian Carl Trueman maintains that we have been scammed. “The notion that sex can be pursued as recreation, isolated from a larger relational and moral context, is an obvious scam. But we keep getting mugged by reality.” Men remember this: “Your philosophy will always dictate your morality.” When we leave biblical morality out of our worldview, the results can easily lead sexual harassment — being mugged by reality.
Scripture warns us about falling victim to lust. “God’s plan is to make you holy and that means a clean cut with sexual immorality. Every one of you should learn to control his body, keeping it pure and treating it with respect, and not allowing it to fall victim to lust, as do pagans with no knowledge of God” (I Thess. 4: 3-5 – Phillips). It was a struggle for the early church to maintain sexual purity. The Pagan religions often included sexual orgies as part of their rites of worship, and temple prostitutes were dedicated to various gods. In contrast, the early church taught that the body is God’s temple.
Christina Hoff Sommers wonders if we might not be experiencing “the Great Sex Panic of 2017.” But she pleads, “Let’s not squander this moment. Women and men of good will have a profound opportunity to speak honestly and work together to begin to write the next chapter in the quest for equality and dignity.” For the wild men reading this blog, who desire to live with moral purity, exemplified by sexual integrity, this is a time for a “spiritual morality check” of our lives, remembering that moral impurity begins in the heart. “But don’t think you’ve preserved your virtue simply by staying out of bed. Your heart can be corrupted by lust even quicker than you body. Those leering looks you think nobody notices – they also corrupt” (Matt. 6:28- Message).
Men, my constant struggle is to surrender my thought life, with its sexual fantasies to the Lord. Moral purity begins in the heart, not with outward boundaries. I pray always to be a “one-woman” man. If you struggle with your thought life, surrender to the loving gaze of Jesus. His gaze will prompt you to desire greater purity to your heart. Don’t try to fool yourself into believing that you can maintain the kind of sexual purity expected of a man of God in our sensual culture simply by effort and resolve. We all will need continual soul cleansing.