Common reactions to the growing list of men accused of sexual misconduct, harassment, or abuse.
"I'm so disappointed."
"They're dropping like flies."
"I can't believe it. I would never have guessed . . ."
"Who's next? The Pope? The Rock?"
We should all be saying that such behavior is unacceptable.
We speak on behalf of the dignity of women.
We work to break systems of lewd perversion and abuse of power.
We press for a new transparency in workplace and society.
We stand for those violated and look for ways to provide healing and support.
While we certainly say all these things, I'm also looking for what no one else is saying.
Bob was a young farmer, renting some land from old Willy Winters. One month Bob was short on cash. He came to Willy and stated that he couldn't make a full payment that month. Willy smoked Pall Malls and the smoke curled up around his wrinkled face. After a pause, he asked, "You worried about this, Bob?"
"Well, yes, I'm worried about it," Bob admitted.
"Good. Then I'm not because the right guy is."
Responsibility means being "the right guy," the one who takes care of it, the one who gets it done. Will you take responsibility for what you've been given? Will you follow through on your promises? Will you be be good to your word, and handle your commitments?
Taking responsibility is a key characteristic of manhood (and womanhood, but I'm ranting about men now). Taking a cultural pulse, I sense that the modern man struggles with responsibility. In fact, some men celebrate or brag when they have worked themselves out of responsibility. Movies about bumbling, slacker guys are funny, but they represent a sad reality. How long can I mooch off others, play video games, and avoid any sacrifice? Should our model for manhood be Homer Simpson or a character from any Seth Rogen film?
Bob made good on all his debts. In fact, he's still making good on his word today. My father-in-law raised an exceptional daughter. I experience the blessing of his responsibility. Having godly models of manhood in a father and a father-in-law, I pick up my duties with honor. I'm "the right guy" for for the responsibilities I've been given.
I continue to see the dangerous effects of porn in the lives of men (in particular). A recent CNN post on a new book called "The Demise of Guys" links video games and porn to the rise of "slacker males" in our country. You can debate the correlation. Nonetheless, author and psychologist Nakita Duncan notes: "If you watch excessive amounts of porn, you're going to find it hard to have real life relationships, because you're developing your sexuality independently of real people."
My "porn talk" to guys goes something like this:
Confession and Forgiveness: You must acknowledge and confess the addiction and your utter inability to control it. Then you must hear forgiveness. Personally. This is the first and critical step. No sin likes to come into the light. But when it's pulled out of the darkness, the light works to kill it. Jesus himself - his work on the cross - is the remedy. Come to a pastor (or a trusted, godly man) for private confession.
Accountability: Confide in a trusted male (never your girlfriend or wife). Tell them the fulness of your problem. Give them full permission to check in with you regularly and hold you accountable. This is not unlike Alcoholics Anonymous, and the sponsor concept.
Software: I don't have knowledge of the various protection software available, but many exist. Guardware. Hedgebuilders. Covenant Eyes.
Resources for reading: A helpful short book I've read is by Pastor Mark Driscoll, called Porn Again Christian. You can download it online here for free. A website called XXX Church also has extensive resources, recommendations, and programs for porn addiction.
Ongoing life in the Christian community. The church is a "hospital for sinners." Find refuge in the hospital. An active worship life, and meaningful relationships in the church are natural ways in which Christians are built up to live in the midst of the world. Our Christian community serves as a "home base" from which we go out into the many challenging corners of the world.
For all my single ladies. Tell me what you think of these 8 principles for dating. Being a male, I'm unqualified to speak to some of the things this female author says.
As a pastor, I am observing an undeniable trend: Strong, faithful, God-fearing young women dating immature boys. I'm concerned for our young women who are looking for a husband. Our society is overrun with irresponsible, porn-addicted, under-achieving adolescents who happen to be 28-years-old. On top of that, I regularly interact with a disproportionate number of young men who have no room for Jesus in their life.
So young women, I'm praying for some godly young men. And I'm working really hard to raise some up in our church. We've got some already . . . just in case you're looking.
I'm a proponent of strong male leadership in the church. I believe that our mission is desperate for manly, courageous, godly, muscular leadership. Lest you think this means chauvinistic locker-room leadership, let me tell you about our annual men's retreat this past weekend.
I've been leading this retreat for the last 5 years. Friday night always consists of rowdy forms of testosterone-induced competition. Sweaty guys playing bean bag toss and ping pong. Some guys extended the play until 4:00AM. There was also venison sausage and adult beverages (in moderation).
But strong male leadership is not defined by games, chest-hair, or guy sweat. Something remarkable happened this year that took our annual retreat to another level. Our format included a panel of five men who were asked a variety of questions ranging from health to family to work. The panel was honest and forthright. This vulnerability immediately lowered the defenses of the larger group, opening up a whole new level of conversation. Suddenly we were having an hour-long conversation about pornography and sexual temptation. Men were making new connections, supporting one another, and praying. There was a sense of, "I'm not the only one. I'm not alone." And from such vulnerability comes strength.
Jesus calls his disciples to a posture of servanthood, "Whoever would be great among you must be your servant . . . even as the Son of Man came not to be served but to serve, and give his life as a ransom for many" (Matt. 20:26-28). This is leadership on your knees. This type of leadership means you put yourself under others. And if you do that, you need some muscle to do the heavy lifting. Humility and vulnerability require strength.
Men typically have a hard time being vulnerable in general, and in the church especially. We feel the need for pious facades. I am grateful that this weekend cracked the wall and allowed for a new level of strength among many of our men - a strength proven in its vulnerability. I have courage in the mission when I know these men are on it.