By the end of Sunday night’s presidential debate, I was struck, like most people, by the sad and sordid spectacle of what has become one of the most acrimonious and distasteful campaigns in contemporary American politics.
On one side of the hall stood the Republican nominee attempting to dismiss his recorded claims of sexual assault on a woman as mere “locker room talk.”
In reality, the actions described in those tapes from 2005 were not just lewd and crude banter. The alleged actions described were possibly criminal, and certainly immoral and inherently against our core belief in the dignity of women.
On the other side of the debate stage stood the Democratic nominee. Over the course of the evening, she refused to defend or address her years of deliberately discrediting and dismissing women who have accused her own husband of sexually abusing them. Three of these women sat near both the candidate and the former president, a man who was impeached for lying under oath about his affair with a White House intern.
By the time the curtain fell on the unprecedented 90-minute exchange, one thing was perfectly clear to me. This is the fruit, I thought, of what happens in a post-Christian society that fails to acknowledge and accept that everyone is made in the image of God. It’s what happens when the expression of Christian faith is impugned and ridiculed, raunchy entertainment wins accolades and crass talk is celebrated.
Of course, Focus on the Family is a non-profit, non-partisan organization, so I’ll leave it to others to talk about the politics surrounding the state of the presidential race.
However, for those of us who are Christian, I want to address the larger issue of sexual sin. All of us are vulnerable in this regard, because all of us are imperfect people who sin. We’re broken. We need help! But I want to talk about this because, for almost 40 years our organization has been speaking about biblical principles and how they play out in our everyday lives.
Let me be clear and unequivocal, though it seems as though what I’m about to say shouldn’t even be debatable, the depraved state of our culture makes clear it must still be said.
Sexual abuse is always wrong and should always be condemned. It should never be dismissed or treated lightly.
Further, men should never speak or treat women in dehumanizing ways. “Sexual talk” is vulgar and indefensible. It’s never funny. It’s offensive, plain and simple.
Men should never denigrate and sexualize women.
God calls men to strongly defend women, which is why, after watching both sides spar on Sunday night, I have been convicted to join in the national conversation. As a Christian man, I cannot tolerate or excuse any behavior that victimizes women or treats them as a commodity.
This is not about partisan politics. This is about ridding our culture of predatory behavior. Sadly and shamefully, the sexual abuse and objectification of women is a problem that’s far too common. An exhaustive government survey in 2011 found that nearly one in five women in the United States say they have been sexually assaulted.
We can and must do better.
I believe the challenges we face in this arena will only grow greater in the coming years. When a culture abandons a multi-millennia-old sexual ethic, dangerous consequences follow. We’ve been seeing the damage wrought by the “sexual revolution” for decades, but it’s exponentially accelerated and intensified in the last few years.
How are we to respond as believers?
It would be tempting to expect or demand those outside the Christian church to see things as we do. After all, God’s way is good – and it works well. But to expect non-Christians to act like Christians is a fool’s errand. Instead, we must model the principles that God’s Word teaches. In essence, we must walk the talk.
As Christians, we must remain faithfully committed to our spouse in thought, word and deed. We must swear off any temptation to make flirtatious comments to members of the opposite sex.
If you’re single, you must properly channel your sexuality and not pressure your partner to compromise their own commitment to God. If you’re a man, you must speak out when you hear another man talking about women in denigrating terms and refuse to participate in such conversations.
Single or married, you must address and tackle with ferocity any sexual-related addictions that might damage your soul and your witness for Christ.
In the end, sordid spectacles, however unfortunate, can also be teachable and turning point moments in the culture. Such is my prayer with the presidential election of 2016. It’s also my prayer that in our collective disgust we won’t disengage. Instead, we must lean in and do our part, earnestly seeking God’s wisdom as we do so.
However imperfect the political process, Christians are commanded to be good and responsible citizens who are willing to engage this very broken world. We certainly don’t believe politics will save us – but we’re called on to use our vote to promote the welfare of our family, neighbors, and fellow citizens, to uphold godly principles, and to protect the innocent and vulnerable.
Please join me in praying for this nation.