Hardly a week passes that someone’s champion doesn’t fall.
Hardly a week goes by that a well-known man won’t keep his hands to himself, his zipper firmly secured in the up position.
The higher profile the better. The more firmly entrenched in a definitive camp—liberal, conservative, Christian, entertainment—the better, the more appealing as a juicy target for his adversaries.
Matt Lauer was the latest casualty, if we can call a man who commits sexual harassment a victim. Reports surfaced Wednesday of a pattern of misconduct. He presented a colleague with a sex toy including a note detailing how he’d like to use it on her. He summoned another female colleague to his office and dropped his pants exposing himself at which point, he reprimanded her for not acting. He led an office game of “f___, kill, or marry.” Surprising behavior from NBC’s crown jewel who commanded a $25 million annual salary. NBC immediately dismissed the star.
Ironically, last September, Lauer grilled disgraced and fired Fox News host, Bill O’Reilly over his sexual misconduct. “You were the guy that the ratings and the revenue was built on,” said Lauer. “Doesn’t it seem safe to assume that the people at Fox News were given some evidence that simply made it impossible for you to stay on at Fox News?”
They are not alone. More than 50 women have made accusations against Bill Cosby, that bastion of familial paternity. Harvey Weinstein and Kevin Spacey are the most recent culprits from the entertainment industry. Politics seems a particularly fertile breeding ground for this sort of debauchery. Former President Clinton was/is a notorious philanderer. Disgraced congressman Anthony Weiner was sentenced to 21 months in prison for sexting with a minor. Several women accused even former President George H.W. Bush, at 93, of inappropriate contact.
Despite our nation’s earnest efforts to curb it, improper use or intended improper use of the penis is more a problem now than ever.
Collectively, we ought to thoroughly investigate every allegation. The culprit, if proven guilty in a court of law vice the court of public opinion, ought to receive justice. The accuser, if proven false, ought to receive a measure of justice.
These incidents lead us to draw two very necessary conclusions.
1. All Men Are Fallible
At the Command and General Staff College years ago, a classroom discussion turned to General Petraeus. At the time, he had commanded Fort Leavenworth, rewritten the Army’s counterinsurgency doctrine, and been assigned the unenviable task of righting the ship in Iraq. No mean feat, but he pulled it off. His star continued its ascent.
Several of my classmates had worked for him, and they exhorted his work ethic and his brilliance. “Where is the chink in this guy’s armor?” our instructor asked.
Enter Paula Broadwell.
Petraeus succumbed to a common temptation, an extra-marital affair. As his dalliance with his biographer became public, he resigned in disgrace. Her career was ruined. I know he was a general, but why did no one ever approach this man about spending so much time with a pretty, younger woman who was not his wife?
In all of this, we must be reminded of a fundamental truth, the fallibility of man.
All men are capable of sin, great sin, and all men, at some point, have a tendency or a propensity to sin. (Romans 3:10, 23) For many men, that tendency manifests itself in the desire to misuse the penis.
“Put not your trust in princes, in a son of man, in whom there is no salvation.” Psalm 146:3.
In Christ alone do we find salvation. In Christ alone do we find one worthy of our worship, worthy of being exalted. Instead, we elevate men, generate heroes and idols. Certainly, men exist worthy of honor and praise, worthy of being esteemed. I know many. Yet, when honor becomes worship, we’ve neglected the fallibility of man.
The unfortunate recipe combines fallibility with power, influence, and wealth. As many have a propensity to sin sexually and then are presented with numerous opportunities to satiate their lusts, why wouldn’t many fall? In military circles, the common and accurate statement is that leaders fall due to zipper, bottle, or money issues. My observations and experience have repeatedly affirmed the truth of this.
Only Christ fully mitigates this fallibility. The redeemed believer is equipped by the indwelling Holy Spirit, empowered to live a life of purity and holiness. Further, the proliferation of the common grace of the Gospel restrains even the unbelieving heart. Jesus was and is the greatest advocate for women ever and where Christ is preached, women are more cherished, protected, and honored.
Combine fallibility with power, influence, and wealth…add rampant godlessness and yet I ask again, why wouldn’t men fall in this regard?
2. I Am A Fallible Man
In the sixteenth century, John Bradford observed a group of prisoners being marched to the gallows. “There but for the grace of God, goes John Bradford.” Aside from his reference to himself in the third person, his intent is to express humility, that only God’s sovereign hand could place him where he is. Were it not for God’s sovereign hand, he could just as easily be marching to the gallows.
His statement is a loose paraphrase of Paul, “But by the grace of God I am what I am.” (1 Corinthians 15:10) It is the sovereign hand of God that shapes and molds me into what I am, not any intrinsic merit of my own. Apart from the grace of God, I am nothing but a miserable wretch.
Paul expresses the outworking of this mindset in the same letter. “Neither the sexually immoral, nor idolaters, nor adulterers, nor men who practice homosexuality, nor thieves, nor the greedy, nor drunkards, nor revilers, nor swindlers will inherit the kingdom of God. And such were some of you.”
Such were some of you.
Apart from the grace of God, the unmerited grace of God, I would still dwell in my sin.
When we scoff at Matt Lauer, when we rejoice at O’Reilly, or Weinstein, or Spacey and their predicaments, we forget that such were some of us, perhaps even you or me, apart from the grace of God.
We ought to condemn the sin, mourn it certainly, but refrain from any kind of haughtiness. Well I would never do this, that, and the other. Given the right circumstances, the right opportunity, the right exaltation, I think you would be surprised with what any man might be capable. Do you think Lauer ever thought it’d come to this?
Never mind that many men wallow in a litany of disparate sins, maybe just not sexual. How many gluttonous men scoff at the sexual fall of others? How many greedy men scoff at the sexual fall of others? How many idolatrous men jeer at their plight?
When you think that you have it licked, when you believe that you have a handle on your own sin, you walk in grave danger. We may never let complacency rule our conscience. We must never let our guard down or think that our willpower is sufficient. We must pursue Christ as He conforms us to His image, for His purposes. This is the proper response.
In response to the sins of so many, I am thus reminded that all men are fallible. In their weakness, I am reminded of my own. I am as fallible as they.
May this truth guide our hearts.
Author - Founder
Soldier, Pastor, Author – Bradford stays busy, with his wife Ami, raising their 9 children, serving the nation, pastoring, preaching, and writing books (#3 is due out October ’17).
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