I don’t have this all figured out. That’s for certain. But, I do have some thoughts. American society is right now recalibrating its thinking in the wake of the Harvey Weinstein, Roy Moore, Kevin Spacey, Al Franken, Charlie Rose (and the list goes on) scandals.
At this moment, we are headed to a place culturally where we expect more from our men in terms of decency and conduct. That’s a good thing.
After all, I’m a pastor in a church, and God calls Christian men to honor younger women like sisters and older women like mothers, with all purity (see 1 Timothy 5:2). Sadly, we all fall short of this standard. But we find ourselves at a point in history where non-Christian and Christian thinking may be aligned on this issue: We all want men to think and behave in a way that honors women.
That all being said, we should be open and honest about a few questions that were settled by our culture long ago, but I think need to be revisited. Years ago, Americans decided we would accept sexualized content and pornography because not to do so could constitute a violation of our First Amendment rights. We now must ask ourselves a tough question: What is the effect of highly sexualized or even pornographic content on the way men think and relate to women? As a culture, we’ve decided that men and women are equal. So why, according to some statistics do women appear with little or no clothing in Hollywood movies about three times more often than men?
Well, it could be that men and women are different in that men are more visual than women. In 2 Samuel 11, David, the king of Israel, committed adultery with a married woman and had her husband killed to cover up the pregnancy that resulted from the affair. How did that series of events all start? David saw Bathsheba bathing on her rooftop as he overlooked the city. Let’s be honest, sexually provocative images are very powerful to men.
Also, are there any men among us who would be comfortable with one of our mothers, wives, or daughters appearing on video for the entire world to see with little or no clothing on in highly charged situations? Those women on the screen are our mothers and wives and daughters.
Men, if we stop looking at this stuff, the market would go away and women would not be placed in the awkward, horrifying, scary position of having to disrobe to get work in the TV or film industry. Let’s honor our women! Let’s have a national discussion about how we can treat the the women of this country with honor and respect while adequately preserving our First Amendment rights.
A second question is equally important is this: What is the net effect of highly sexualized or even pornographic content on our young people when they are exposed to this material from an early age? What expectations are forming in the minds of our young men and women when they see this stuff? In my pastoral counseling, I can’t tell you how many men I’ve met who struggle to stay away from sexually charged material, and it all started when they found dad’s stash of magazines. Let’s talk about this!
Look, I’m not blaming sexually explicit material alone for what is happening in our culture. But we would be burying our heads in the sand to think that it’s not contributing to the problem. Like I said, I don’t have this all figured out, but I’d like to try. I believe that God gave us sexual intimacy as a gift to be enjoyed under the right conditions. If we can get honest with ourselves, we can be the generation that is someday looked upon as blazing the trail toward helping men to honor and respect women.
Rev. Scott Tiede is senior pastor of Delaware Bible Church.