There’s nothing new about sexual immorality.
Although news and social media have been rife with stories of sexual sin in recent months, the underlying story is as old as humanity itself.
The Bible is full of examples of men who used their positions of power to engage in sexual sin. Even King David took another man’s wife and had her husband killed in an attempt to cover up his guilt.
David’s daughter, Tamar, was raped by her half-brother (2 Samuel 13). Jacob’s daughter, Dinah, was assaulted by a local prince (Genesis 34). An unnamed woman was gang-raped and left for dead in the town of Gibeah (Judges 19).
Scripture is clear that God will judge sin, and the Bible calls out sexual sin specifically in many passages. Three examples:
“God will judge the sexually immoral and adulterous” (Hebrews 13:4).
“For you may be sure of this, that everyone who is sexually immoral or impure, or who is covetous (that is, an idolater), has no inheritance in the kingdom of Christ and God” (Ephesians 5:5).
“Flee from sexual immorality. Every other sin a person commits is outside the body, but the sexually immoral person sins against his own body” (1 Corinthians 6:18).
The Bible also assures us that God will forgive sin when we confess, repent and turn in faith to Him, but many times, the consquences of sin remain, causing lasting pain for all involved, often including innocent children or other loved ones.
Today, dozens of men stand accused of offenses ranging from inappropriate comments to brutal crimes. In some cases, the alleged behavior spans decades and involves dozens of victims.
Some of the accused are well-known: movie mogul Harvey Weinstein, NBC News anchor Matt Lauer, Minnesota Sen. Al Franken, comedian Louis C.K., actor Kevin Spacey, Carolina Panthers owner Jerry Richardson and celebrity chef Mario Batali are just a few of the accused. By early January, The New York Times had compiled a list of 51 prominent men who had been fired or resigned from their positions, and 27 more who had been accused and in many cases suspended from their jobs, pending investigations.
Many others would never be widely known if not for their sins being brought to light, including pastors, school teachers and—as outlined in a January BBC News article—housing inspectors. The article recounted the plight of Khristen Sellers. She faced continual harassment from a county inspector who threatened multiple times to revoke her public housing voucher if she refused to have sex with him. Sellers steadfastly refused, and she eventually moved to a different city, far away from the man who tried to use his position of power for evil.
It is painfully obvious that many men today are falling short of even the most basic standards of integrity, respect or civility—let alone the Biblical commands to love one’s neighbor (Mark 12:31), to be kind and compassionate (Ephesians 4:32) or to count others as more significant than themselves (Philippians 2:3).
Consider these statistics from the FBI: 73.1 percent of all arrests in the U.S. during 2015 were of men; only 26.9 percent were of women. Of 30 different crimes tracked in the FBI’s Crime in the United States report, only two showed more arrests of women than men.
And even in these cases—embezzlement and prostitution/commercialized vice—the men managed to come off looking more corrupt than the women.
The women tended to embezzle in order to support their families, while men embezzled in order to buy expensive cars, boats and the like. And law enforcement increasingly is coming to terms with the fact that more than 80 percent of prostitution involves women who are forced by male pimps to engage in sex acts—not to mention that men are the ones creating the demand in the first place.
The recent New Year’s Eve celebrations in Berlin, Germany, brought another shocking reminder of men running amok. The city set up a “safe zone” to provide immediate aid to any women who were sexually assaulted during the celebrations. The reason? Two years earlier, some 1,200 women across Germany fell victim to sexual assaults during New Year’s celebrations.
Who would have ever dreamed that such measures would be needed, or that so many men in today’s world would demonstrate such monstrous behavior?
In a recent Facebook post, Franklin Graham put his finger on the cause: “The Bible says the heart is ‘desperately wicked,’ and only God can change it,” Franklin wrote. “The sexual harassment issues we’ve seen recently aren’t anything new; it is even in the Bible. King David used his power and authority to have another man’s wife, and it eventually led to her husband’s murder. The Bible says, ‘Be sure your sin will find you out,’ and that happened to King David. Even though David repented and God forgave him, there were consequences for his sin that cost him for the rest of his life. Sin carries a high price. We’re all sinners in need of a Savior—and that Savior is Jesus Christ.”
Sin, which entered the human race when Adam and Eve fell, has infected all people, not just males. But theologians point out that the Fall affected men and women in different ways.
“The essence of corrupted maleness is the self-aggrandizing effort to subdue and control and exploit women for its own private desires,” says John Piper, founder of desiring God and former pastor of Bethlehem Baptist Church in Minneapolis. He adds that “corrupted femaleness” seeks to do likewise to men—the difference being which specific weaknesses men and women tend to exploit in one another.
For men, it often means relying on their physical size and strength. Around the world, men on average are nearly 5 inches taller than the women in their own country, and a 1985 study found that men had an average of 40 percent more upper body muscle and 33 percent more lower body muscle than women.
This begs the question: Why did God make men to be generally larger and stronger than women? It seems logical to assume that it is to provide protection and provision for the ones who bear children and for the children themselves. Sadly, many men have gone from being protectors to predators, from providers to abusers.
“Sin thoroughly corrupts,” notes Denny Burk, professor of Biblical studies at Boyce College. “God intended for husbands to love their wives in a way that exemplifies Christ’s love for the church. But when men forsake God’s calling on their lives, they seek their own interests and use their power to abuse and exploit. Sin ruins everything, including the calling that God puts on men’s lives to be leaders, protectors and providers. The failure of manhood, therefore, is nothing less than the ancient story of sin in the human race.”
And the world, steeped in sin, has developed a drastically twisted definition of true manhood—one that often focuses on physical strength rather than godly character. Modern technology compounds the problem.
“When a society has lost its standards for wisdom and wise relationships, and so many families are broken, then the media become our moral guide,” says Ed Welch, who serves on the faculty of the Christian Counseling & Educational Foundation.
Because the media are controlled by those who do not know Christ, it’s not surprising that the messages can lead to disastrous thinking and behavior.
The enemy, Satan, loves nothing more than to destroy lives, and the current wave of sexual misconduct cases shows just how successful he has been. As noted Christian counselor Dan Allender observed recently, “The kingdom of darkness loves sexual abuse.”
Ask evangelist R.V. Brown about men’s gross moral failures, and you’ll get an earful. Brown—a former college football player who at age 64 can still bench press 405 pounds—has coached players in several sports, counseled drug addicts, worked with prison inmates and mentored youth across the country. He has seen how the world defines manhood. And he has seen men and families devastated.
“Look in the workplace and at all these things that are happening in our society,” Brown says. “Why is this happening? Because character is down, integrity is down, prayer is down, commitment is down, discipleship is down.
“You can’t fight Satan with physical strength. You’ve got to have the Word in you. I need to get up at 4 a.m. every day and saturate myself with the Word of God. When a man knows where his strength comes from—the Word of God—he’s powerful.”
For Brown, the solution is to get back to basics.
“A guy with fundamentals is a powerful man,” he says. “The fundamentals are Jesus, family, prayer and worship. For a man not to be an abuser, he needs these four characteristics. In particular, you must have a strong prayer life. If you’re going to be a real man of God, you’ve got to pray.”
Brown also values accountability. “Men are not talking to men like they ought to talk. Like the old men talked to me, like my dad talked to me. Real men have accountability. We’ve got so many men today without accountability. That’s why this sexual misconduct is so prevalent now.”
The world does not understand God’s ways, and it loves to disparage godly behavior. Vice President Mike Pence, for example, was harshly ridiculed last spring after it became known that he does not dine alone with women other than his wife—what some have called the “Billy Graham rule.” But as the accounts and allegations of sexual sin and abuse continue to stack up, it is clear that men and women who follow that practice will avoid some of the compromising or dangerous situations that have brought such pain.
As Burk told Decision: “Men need to understand that manhood is not to be defined by cultural norms but by Scripture. Our culture wants us to believe that there are not important differences between men and women—that they are interchangeable. But the Scriptures teach that God made His image-bearers as male and female, with distinct and complementary differences. To go against that design is a recipe for frustration and pain.
“Every man needs to know what God has revealed about manhood in the Bible, and then he needs to follow that revelation, even when it is countercultural to do so.”