Sex and Power

BREAKING NEWS: BELOVED NATIONAL LEADER CHARGED WITH MURDER IN SEX COVER UP. No that is not a headline from today’s news even though it sounds like it could be. It’s a summary of a salacious sex scandal in 2 Samuel 12 where King David has Uriah, the husband of his mistress Bathsheba, killed in battle so he won’t find out that David impregnated his wife while Uriah was off fighting David’s battles. David was even foolish enough to put his evil cover up scheme in writing: “In the morning David wrote a letter to Joab, and sent it by the hand of Uriah. In the letter he wrote, “Set Uriah in the forefront of the hardest fighting, and then draw back from him, so that he may be struck down and die.” (2 Samuel 11:14)

Sex scandals are nothing new, nor do we seem to have learned much in the last 3000 years. Like many I am disgusted and embarrassed by the political theater playing out in the Kavanaugh Supreme Court confirmation hearings. Like the Clarence Thomas and Anita Hill drama 27 years ago we have no process to fairly evaluate the accusations that have been leveled at Judge Kavanaugh by Dr. Ford. The members of the judiciary committee are divided along party lines and frankly unable to be objective and fair in settling this “He said, she said” matter.

As I write this we don’t know if Dr. Ford is going to appear before the Judiciary Committee or not. We do know that she and her family’s lives have been changed forever by this painful decision to come forward. Yes, the Democrats should have brought this whole matter up sooner, but that is only a problem because this whole process has been rushed through for purely political reasons.
We may never know the truth in this matter, and I know my own political biases cloud my thinking about it. But what I do know is that this is a teachable moment for all of us men. No matter what the outcome of the confirmation process Judge Kavanaugh’s reputation will never be the same. And the lesson we men need to learn and we need to teach our sons and grandsons is that girls and women cannot be treated disrespectfully.

The “Me Too” movement has shown us over and over again that there are consequences for sexual misconduct. We need to celebrate that the days of “boys will be boys” is being strongly and effectively challenged by women in all walks of life.

We will no longer get away with sexual misconduct. King David learned that lesson too when the prophet Nathan had the courage to confront him about his sinful behavior. Nathan does it indirectly by telling David a parable about a rich man who steals from his poor neighbor, and David is angry at that injustice. And then Nathan springs the punch line and says, “You are the Man.” (2 Samuel 12)

Like Nathan there have always been some voices willing to challenge abuse of power, but those voices especially those of women have been ignored. We are just now feeling the brunt of sexual abuse in every aspect of our society, in the church, government, and entertainment industry. And those are just the ones that make the news. God only knows how many women and girls are still suffering in silence.
David does confess his sin when Nathan confronts him, but Nathan tells him that even though his sin is forgiven there will still be dire consequences for his action.

The sooner we men can join David and say ‘Me Too,” I am guilty of treating women with disrespect, the sooner things will move toward justice for all. Most of us men are not guilty of adultery in the strict interpretation of that act, but we need to learn that how we think and feel about women in any way that demeans them, fails to value their ideas, pays them less than men, or tries to silence their voices because what they have to say makes us uncomfortable if we have to admit our own complicity in this age-old problem, all of those behaviors are flat out wrong.

No matter how the Supreme Court confirmation turns out there will be no winners unless we as a society can learn a lesson from this situation and take at least some small steps toward a better world where there is “neither male nor female” (Galatians 3:28) but where we are all one in God’s universal family.

5 thoughts on “Sex and Power

  1. Thank you for the ongoing conversation about this “sex and power” topic. As I try to process my “#MeToo” experiences (and unfortunately, there are plural experiences – at the hands of a popular high school athlete and scholar who twice was very physically aggressive and then had nothing else to do with me–once literally shoving me away as others came into the area; at the hands of my hometown dentist, when my mother dropped off my prepubescent self for an appt. and left to do some other errand; at the hands of a “respected elder” in the community when I took the job of mowing his and his aged wife’s lawn at the age of 11–insisting I had to “come into the garage” with him as he started the mower and backed it out of the garage [and I am very grateful for the self-preservation instincts that, after the first time, gave me the strength and courage to refuse to go into the garage with him–This may sound simple and obvious, but I was raised to “respect my elders” and it took some mighty gumption to refuse]; at the hands of my maternal grandfather (most grievous of all because of course I should have been able to trust him the most) {again, I am grateful for the courage to resist so strongly that he backed off]; a stranger on the street [third time: grateful for the instinctual resistance that saved me]. I so far have mostly remained one of the “still silent” ones that you mention in your writing. (The listing in this comment is the most revealing and direct statement of my experiences to date.) Thank you for acknowledging that a lot of us are still silent. I think that it will take wise and “no axe to grind” writings such as your post for many of us “still silent ones” to begin to speak up and out — and that will be part of our own healing, the healing of perpetrators (who cannot heal until, like King David, they are forced to acknowledge their actions/role), and the healing of the nation and world in regard to “sex and power.”

    I also think that men who assaulted women when they were still technically boys should take some comfort in the truth that the cultural milieu of the day encouraged boys in my generation to be sexually aggressive. The teachings about mutuality–that absolutely no physical action involving another person should take place without first obtaining verbal affirmation that it is something the other persons wants to do–that I found online and was able to share with the youth group at a church that I served–either did not exist when I was young, or were not known about. I am sure that wise parents were already teaching both their sons and daughters about mutuality and non-aggression; however, in many families that conversation just never took place, and the culture saw males as the appropriate initiator and aggressor of physical should-have-been-but-can’t-be-when-it’s-not-mutual intimacy. Boys were supposed to get to “first, second, third base” without any regard for the full humanity of the “playing field” — the girls with whom they were experimenting.

    Well, Steve, I didn’t start out to write such a long response. Thank you for this “safe zone” in to begin to not be silent any more. And may the conversation continue.



      1. Yes, you do. However, I do wish I could edit a minor typo or two….I couldn’t find an “edit” button. Do you know how to do that? (As I say, the changes are minor fixes, not changes in content, so the world will not stop turning if I can’t edit. It’s just the former English teacher in me not wanting this “draft” to go public. Smnile)

      2. I get an edit icon if I click on “approve,” but I doubt he if you can do that. If you can tell me what you want changed I will be glad to do it. Thanks again for your willingness to be vulnerable.

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