Tuesday, October 11, 2016

Hey, Pat Robertson: It isn't "macho" talk; it's sin

Yesterday, one-time Reagan and Bush aide Peter Wehner, posted this on Twitter:
Through the years, as a Christian pastor, I've often felt like the guy sweeping up the elephant dung after a parade in the wake of comments made by televangelist Pat Robertson.

I feel no differently about Robertson's apparent belief that the lewd commendation of sexual violence in Donald Trump's Access Hollywood outtake is nothing more than "macho" talk, akin to Trump's description of it as "locker room talk."

It's far more serious than that. And so, with broom in hand, I responded to Wehner's tweet with one of my own:
For Christians, the sexual objectification of a woman by a man isn't "macho," it's a sin. Jesus calls it adultery.
That last line references what Jesus says in Matthew 5:28, where Jesus clearly has the objectification of another person for one's own sexual gratification in mind:
"...I tell you that anyone who looks at a woman lustfully has already committed adultery with her in his heart."
The Bible is also explicit in its condemnation of rape, the kind of sexual assault that Trump bragged that he could get away with because he was "a star." That too, is sin. 

It's up to God to decide whether Trump's expression of contrition was genuine or whether it was a political expediency to divert attention from his general view of women. And it's up to you as an individual voter to seek God's wisdom in discerning the apology's authenticity and if it isn't authentic, whether that disqualifies him from consideration for the presidency. I won't even venture an opinion on that subject.

But what I feel very confident in saying is that no Christian leader--in fact, no Christian--should try to rationalize, excuse, or explain away the comments about women Trump has apologized for as nothing more than a man trying to impress a bunch of other men with macho talk.

What kind of men are impressed by sexual assault?

What kind of men are impressed when someone speaks, as Trump appears to on the video, of a woman as "it"?

I would say, only men who are indifferent to sin and to the humanity of women who, like them, were created in the image of God.

We are all sinners, of course. And we all need to repent for our sins and receive the grace God gives to all who trust in Christ. But for an ordained Christian pastor like Robertson to excuse sin as harmless macho talk sends a bad message to every boy and man that predatory behavior is acceptable. It tells every girl and woman that sexual assault is acceptable.

Well, it's not.

Instead, we Christians should talk about how this talk is sinful in itself, how apologies and repentance are appropriate, how God wants men to respect women, how the grace God gives only to those who repent and believe in Jesus can transform even sexual predators into grateful, obedient people of God.

The Trump video was a teachable moment for a Christian leader with the kind of platform that Robertson has. Instead of commending God's Word and the lordship of Christ, he excused sin. Not good.

[To further explore this issue, read this excellent essay by Karen Swallow Prior from Christianity Today.]

[Blogger Mark Daniels is pastor Living Water Lutheran Church in Centerville, Ohio.]

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