2017 may go down as the year that sexual scandals rocked America.
The thing about a charge of rape, said 17th century British judge Sir Matthew Hale, is that it ‘‘is an accusation easily to be made and hard to be proved, and harder to be defended by the party accused”—even if that party is innocent. It is an excruciating dilemma. Most such crimes occur in private. And yet false charges are also sometimes made. How do we give proper due process to the accused while showing compassion to victims?
But one thing that troubles me about all this is that Hollywood and the culture do so much to promote an immoral sexual ethic.
Pop music and movies and TV routinely promote sex outside of God-given marital boundaries. Then when someone engages in these activities, especially if they want to run for office, they are besmirched by this.
I think what we are seeing in some ways is this: Playboy ethics, but Puritan consequences. We are constantly bombarded with messages to do whatever feels good. Then if someone does it, he suddenly faces censure.
We teach young people today how to put condoms on cucumbers in schools, but then we frown at teenage illegitimacy.
The pop culture revels in sexual immorality. In one of her songs, Madonna croons, “If it’s against the law, arrest me. If you can handle it, undress me.”
Not to be outdone, Lady Gaga sings, “But I got a reason that you’re who should take me home tonight. I need a man that makes it right when it’s so wrong.”
We routinely see sex outside of marriage on the big screen and the little one. In 1995, Don Wildmon, of the American Family Association, complained that 88 percent of sexual activity in prime-time television was between unmarried people — thus, making “lust more attractive than love.”
If it was that bad in 1995, it’s only worse in 2017— since marriage as a whole continues to suffer significantly in our culture.
Of course, just because we’re bombarded with these messages doesn’t excuse anybody from giving into his or her base nature or from making unwanted sexual advances.
One of the sacred cows of the Playboy ethic on sex is that anything goes as long as it’s between two consenting adults. But the “consenting adults” principle still doesn’t halt the consequences of promiscuity, such as a failed marriage, a broken heart, venereal disease, or scandal.
Why do we have the Puritan consequences to sexual practices? I believe our forebears were on to something with their belief that sex was to remain within its God-given strictures: inside the bounds of holy matrimony (of course, between a man and a woman). When we venture outside of God’s boundaries, we go against the order He designed for our safety and flourishing.
We may mock monogamy all we want, but interestingly, a major study on sex in America in 1992, under the auspices of the University of Chicago, found that the Puritan-type ethic of sex promotes happiness in the bedroom to its adherents.
They reported, “Once again contradicting the common view of marriage as dull and routine, the people who reported being the most physically pleased and emotionally satisfied were the married couples….The lowest rates of satisfaction were among men and women who were neither married nor living with someone—the very group thought to be having the hottest sex” (Sex in America, p. 124).
The Bible admonishes us to avoid even the appearance of evil. So tell me—why is it that some in our culture were wagging their tongues at Vice President Mike Pence for refusing to go out in public alone with women that weren’t a part of his immediate family?
This culture encourages you to freely let your libido flow—but then when you do, you might end up being punished for it. Playboy ethics, Puritan consequences. But as Jesus put it, let him who is without sin, cast the first stone.