Speaking Up for Tamar

Just this morning yet another celebrity has been fired for inappropriate sexual behavior. The Today show’s host, Matt Lauer, was terminated after the investigation of a detailed complaint against him by a co-worker.  Undoubtedly more details will emerge over the next few days.

On one level, the recent flood of stories like this is not surprising. We live in a sex-obsessed culture that prizes individual autonomy above all. Given the pervasive corruption characteristic of Hollywood and Washington DC in general, it is predictable that the worlds of entertainment and politics would be filled with gross misconduct – particularly for those (like Matt Lauer) who operate in the nexus of those worlds.

But what has surprised me is the way some Christians have responded to stories of sexual harassment or abuse, particularly when those stories involve political figures whose ideology they share.

Continue reading

A Second Look at Mike Pence’s “Rule”

Back in March the Washington Post ran a profile of Mike Pence’s wife which mentioned his longstanding practice of not socializing alone with women other than his family. News of this practice was met with scorn, outrage, and derision by many critics. In their view, this was an affront to the equality of women in the workplace – or worse (this is the rape culture at work!).

At the time, I pointed out that while Pence’s scruples may seem highly unusual to some, this was a widely accepted safe-guard among those of us who are labeled “evangelicals” (it even has a name – the “Billy Graham Rule”). For those of us who believe that marriage is truly a sacred commitment before God, maintaining clear boundaries around marriage is just common sense. I recognized then (and now) that not everyone shares the same religious convictions about (what used to be commonly referred to as) “holy matrimony,” and that even among those who do, not everyone follows this cautious principle. But I argued that surely even those who disagree with how Pence and his wife approach this matter of judgment could at least see why they do so, and maybe even feel a certain sense of grudging admiration for such conviction. Continue reading

The Meaning of Beauty and the Ugliness of Pornography

What is “beauty”? What makes a piece or art or music or a landscape beautiful? Certainly we are dealing with something pleasing to the senses, something visually and/or audibly pleasing to us. And what pleases us is something more than the object’s utilitarian value. I have a beautiful desk set, given to me as a gift. It is a fantastic piece of equipment, a great place to work – but then, an ugly desk is also capable of being a sufficient place to do work. So the beauty of my desk must involve more than the use it serves. Its beauty is something I appreciate in and of itself. Continue reading