Allegations of sexual harassment, rape, and molestation are being highlighted in Hollywood these past few weeks. It seems like every day someone is coming out with an allegation against some director, actor, or writer. Power and prestige have provided opportunities for some to take advantage of, manipulate, and force their wills upon others whom have trusted, admired or sought help. Some actors and actresses are finally speaking up against such behaviors and it seems that previous tolerance to these behaviors has reached it’s limit (or has at least lowered). It would seem that the best way many use to address such behaviors is to publicly out and shame the person for their alleged actions. Perhaps they had once filed a complaint with supervisors or the police and it wasn’t taken seriously. Yet once it reached the media, it becomes more serious and actions are finally made by the companies in order to save face. Of course, this is not only is occurring in Hollywood, but we see it in the political world (Moore, Franken, etc.) and even in the church when church leaders are caught taking advantage of parishioners or leading secret lives of sexual sin (Tchividjian, Haggard). So what can we glean from such acts or accusations? How do we process these biblically? Let me give a few thoughts:
Consider the Heart
“For out of the heart come evil thoughts—murder, adultery, sexual immorality, theft, false testimony, slander” (Matt 15:19 NIV). These shameful acts from sexual harassment to rape show us the dangers of when we allow idols of power or sexual pleasure to reign in the hearts. Our self-centerdness (sin-nature) and focus on our own personal pleasure lead to actions that de-value other human beings as being our servants or slaves to do our bidding. This may start off as fantasy, but eventually it becomes reality as it marinates in our hearts, permeates in our thought lives, and penetrates into our actions. This is the danger for all of us! No one is exempt from this! Considering how Hollywood films are filled with sexual scenes, innuendos, and themes, these accusations can’t really surprise us as many films and TV shows reflect the realities of people’s hearts. Since we live out of our hearts, we ought to reflect on our own hearts and what idols we are allowing to reign, so that we can seek His forgiveness and follow His reign. When we do so, we do not look at others as our servants, but instead serve them. Failure to do so may indeed result in a public embarrassment, and even worse, hurts the heart of God. This is why God sent His Son for us, to free us from our ruling heart’s desires that lead to sin.
Darkness is Exposed by the Light
“But everything exposed by the light becomes visible” (Eph 5:13 NIV). When living in darkness, darkness becomes normal. Yet darkness is deceiving because it doesn’t show what really is. We are, in a sense, blind. Spiritually speaking, we are even blind to our own blindness. We can’t see that we can’t see. We can’t see how we are ruled by our sin nature. We fail to see how we our enslaved to our sin, but instead believe our enslavement is actually freedom. Freedom to do as we wish. Freedom to experience pleasure. Freedom to use others for our gratification. Freedom to ____________ (fill in the blank). Many believe that the Christian is enslaved to a dull and boring life, but it is they who may be enslaved to idols they must obey. The darkness is deceiving, but when light is shed on it, we see things more for how they are. And if we are humble, we may even see ourselves as slaves in need of real freedom through the light of Christ. When darkness is exposed by light and truth, we need not be shocked at what the light and truth reveals, but only praise God for exposing the darkness.
“The first to plead his case seems right, Until another comes and examines him” (Prov 18:17 NASB). When accusations are made, we assume the accuser is right and just, and the accused is wrong and evil. The accusations may indeed be true, but they may not be. Obviously, the more who accuse the person of wrongful acts, the more we question the accused (Think Bill Cosby & Judge Moore). Prov 18:17 tells us to be wary and withhold our judgment until we hear cross-examination. Those who cross-examine are trained to find holes in stories and can bring doubt upon the accusations. Typically, this is done when there has been more research and question the motives of the accuser as well. In today’s social media climate, public perception is the weapon used against people. A simple accusation becoming public will likely have a significant effect on the person, because reputation is important. Withholding judgment until there has been evidence, eye witness accounts, and additional investigation would be wise in all situations.
It’s important that Believers not believe everything that is put in front of us, especially if it includes unfounded accusations and negative press. We are told in Scriptures to be wise in discerning, and also not to be involved in gossip, which is spreading such false information (even if that includes sharing it on facebook!). Certainly we can be saddened about such accusations, whether they are true or not, and we can sympathize with those who have been harassed or abused, but we need to fall shy of declaring judgment upon them quickly. Additionally, it is wise to consider our own hearts and our own need for a Savior. Only when we live in light, will the light of Christ shine brightest in us.
What other Biblical advice would be appropriate in regards to accusations and Hollywood & Harassments?