Well well, I was going to offer up some invaluable marriage advice to the lovely Meghan Markle this morning, but I’m going to just wait a few days for that because truly, I spent all of yesterday following the Somewhere Ann Curry hashtag on Twitter and watching embarrassing video clips of Matt Lauer making people uncomfortable on television.
As usual, I never know who any of these people are until the headlines are emblazoned all over my Facebook feed, and then I scramble around trying to learn why they are apparently famous. I mean, I knew who Matt Lauer was, I mean is, but I didn’t know anything about Ann Curry, and I didn’t know about the drama of her leaving the Today Show. Truly, not watching tv for a couple of decades is a bitterness for me this morning. Except that there’s YouTube, so never mind, its fine.
Brace yourselves because I’m going to repeat myself and then go watch this sad clip where two women whose names I can’t remember announce that Matt Lauer has been fired and that it’s a sad day for everyone. You’ve probably already seen it. But at some point the slightly more blond one says,
We are grappling with a dilemma that so many people have faced these past few weeks. How do you reconcile your love for someone with the revelation that they have behaved badly. And I don’t know the answer to that.
This, my dears, is The Human Dilemma. It is the root of all our trouble and all our strife. Not just because of the people we know and love who behave badly, but because of ourselves. How does any human person reconcile his love of himself with the occasional revelation that he has behaved badly, will behave badly, and can’t help behaving badly?
Let’s remind ourselves, though, that another way of saying Behaving Badly is Sinning, that is, doing the wrong thing.
And boy, in reading all the stuff yesterday, it wasn’t hard to see the sin. Having a way to lock your office door without getting up from your desk so as not to alert the woman you’ve called in that you’re about to let fall your trousers is (let’s say it together) Sinful.
I know we didn’t want to face this for sixty or so years. If it was consensual it had to be no harm no foul. But we think a lot of things that are completely wrong. That’s the human experience–being wrong about so many things. From a divine perspective, which is the only one that can be of any help in this seminal moment, any man who undertakes to engage sexually with any woman who is not his wife is sinning. The only kind of sexual activity that is not sinful is the kind that takes place within heterosexual monogamous faithful marriage. And, I would just gently add that sexual activity even within marriage should not be coercive and unkind and certainly not unloving. Sure, it can be awkward, sometimes embarrassing, but never manipulative, power driven, selfish.
And truly, as I’ve said a hundred times now, culturally, there is no way out for him. Whereas before at least he could go on Oprah, now we are in uncharted territory. There is no absolution for the one who truly confesses, let alone the one who makes a half hearted and bitter public statement about sadness over ‘harm caused.’
Let me speak slowly and distinctly. This Is The Moment For The Gospel. For the person who has sinned, who has broken faith, who has abused and manipulated, for the one who let himself down, who used women as objects, who hurt another and didn’t care, indeed for anyone who rebels against God’s divine and provident law–that’s everyone, in case you’re wondering–God Himself Came to provide a remedy. He took on our broken human deluded condition and carried the burden and ugliness of sin, even sexual sin, to the cross. There he died and was then buried and on the third day he rose again, and thereafter ascended into heaven where he sits at the right hand of the father interceding for all those who are so desperate for help and forgiveness.
What you have to do if you have behaved very badly is to fling yourself onto his mercy. Lie down on your single, empty, corrupted bed and cry out to him for help and mercy and forgiveness. Say, ‘I have sinned against heaven and against you and I am not worthy to be called a son.’ Admit that you aren’t who you thought you were, that you cannot do the right thing. In other words, repent of your sin.
And when you do that God, who, unlike you, is faithful and just, and forgives the one who cries out for mercy, will look at you and apply the blood of his cross and life to you. It’s not that he just lets you off the hook. It’s that he stands condemned in your place. He has the power to forgive you because he suffered the consequences of your bitter ugliness. You can be totally and completely forgiven.
You can’t work at the Today Show any more. And you have to go and truly apologize to all the women you hurt. And maybe some of them will forgive you and maybe some of them won’t. But if you truly repent God will forgive you and open a way for you to forgive yourself.
And this is good for everyone. Because if you fling yourself on God’s mercy, which you don’t deserve, he will stand you on your feet and he will not leave you alone, but will help you learn how to behave well, will help you to see that other people are people too, and that you yourself are not a god worthy of adoration. All women benefit from men who know this. And children. And other men. It’s the only way out of this impossible dilemma.