Yes, we are morally diminished. That is exactly what has happened. We are morally diminished from the top down.
I keep thinking that this all comes back to sex: can anyone who embraces immoral sexual practices be a morally-adept leader?
Many mornings, I find myself in two different worlds. I see graphically how our prejudices and our preconceptions color everything we see. The same event reported in both newspapers can read as though they are two entirely different happenings.
Rupert Murdoch, owner of the Fox “Trump, the best thing ever” news source also owns the WSJ. But today, as I read it, I wondered if Murdoch had taken the day off, and rogue reporters had temporarily taken over.
I saw articles ranging from acknowledging that the Trump family may have shady business dealings with the money-laundering Deutch Bank to an editorial saying that Trump’s leadership of the US has squandered our former place as a world leader. William Galston writes:
In 1776, at the threshold of American independence, the Founding Fathers espoused a “decent respect to the opinions of mankind.” Today, citizens of countries around the world regard the U.S. as morally diminished under Mr. Trump’s leadership. He shows no signs of caring, and he probably doesn’t.
The WSJ even acknowledged that Roy Moore is an unacceptable candidate for the Senate, despite the fact that he will likely win the seat.
They also featured the story of James Levine, music director of the Metropolitan Opera, now exposed as a voracious pedophile. The revelations may bring the entire opera down with him.
Yet it is no less indisputable that rumors that Mr. Levine is a pedophile have circulated for the whole of my adult life. I first heard them in Kansas City in the ’70s. I have yet to meet anyone in the world of opera who was unaware of these rumors. In that sense, everybody really did “know” about him—and now, the whole world knows it as well.
We are morally diminished
Just one read of that newspaper today absolutely affirms this fact: We are morally diminished. That is exactly what has happened. We are morally diminished from the top down.
I keep thinking that this all comes back to sex: can anyone who embraces immoral sexual practices be a morally-adept leader?I’m thinking not. An immoral sex life, whether it be pedophilia, coerced sex, adulterous sex or any other variation of sex that reduces sexuality to little more than scratching an itch destroys the human soul. It also inevitably means that a big part of a person’s life must be hidden. The massive lying necessary to maintain the public persona sucks energy away, energy better used in more productive ways.
When some of Bill Clinton’s sexual scandals were exposed, people asked, “Can an immoral man still be a good President?” Many gave a tentative “yes” to that question because Clinton was so personally popular and because most of his rampant immoralities stayed hidden. But it was a wrong answer. In retrospect, Congress should have removed him from office.
A truism: one lie always leads to another lie. Furthermore, leaders who lie always hurt their followers. Always.
I know that there is much concern now that the revelations of egregiously misused sexuality may end up bringing us to a new Victorian age where everyone is utterly repressed. That’s no solution, simply because such repression also results in massive lying.
What I am suggesting, however, is that here, above all, the worlds of faith in all its forms can step up. Ultimately, the core of all life-changing and holy religions come down to this: Love God and love our neighbors as ourselves.
The love of God demands that we respect and treat with care our bodies as manifestations of the creative energies of God. The love of neighbor demands we treat all with equal respect and refuse to see others only as objects to fulfill our personal desires.
With these understandings, all walks of faith can create well-grounded theologies of sexuality. These are not unhealthy repressions full of the kinds of negatives that inspire rebellion. Instead, they offer a well-internalized morality that recognizes both our biological urges and the need to bring those urges until the umbrella of healthy self-control and within covenantal, mutually loving partnerships.
But that’s a long-range goal, one I shall be writing more about in 2018 in collaboration with an expert in holy sexuality.
Right now, we have a short-range crisis on our hands. The best thing that can happen is already taking place: a full-forced exposure of that which has been hidden for so long. Time Magazine has stepped up here: We don’t have to put up with this anymore.
Next week, I predict that (alleged) pedophile Roy Moore will be elected to the US Senate. He will have been put there by the endorsement of a lying, sexually-predatory, morally-challenged President.
The US stands on the brink: we will go ahead and move to complete degeneration? Or, will we take a step back and rethink who we are and what we are about?
The US is a uniquely religious nation. It’s time for all religious leaders to step up and help all leave behind our morally diminished state. We can do this.
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