Weinstein, Spacey and the hypocrisy of the current moral panic

This article was first published in Christian Today

Moral Panic

The Western media and politicians are now in full-scale moral panic mode. After Harvey Weinstein we have the absolutely shocking revelation that there are other people in positions of power who have abused that power. Whether it’s in the celebrity bubble of Hollywood or the political bubble of parliament – it appears that everyone now has a story of being molested and abused. For some the church has become so tainted with abuse that the words paedophile and priest are seen as synonymous.

Some have referred to this as being a kind of collective moral hysteria or the resurgence of a new politically correct puritanism. You think this should delight those of us who are good old-fashioned puritans – you know, the kind who think that all human beings are made in the image of God and should be treated with respect.

The actor Kevin Spacey, who has starred in House of CardsReuters

Us old-style puritans have this rather quaint idea that sex is special, even sacred, and should not be indulged in as some kind of recreational sport. We think that those in positions of power should use that power to serve others and not to exploit the weak for financial or personal gain. We have this rather crazy idea that its not a good idea to sell your body in order to advance your career, or to misuse and abuse other’s bodies just because you get a kick out of it, and you can. And we know that what is done in secret will one day be exposed –not by the media, but when we stand before the Omniscient Lord on the Day of Judgement and the books are opened. So you would think that we would be welcoming this apparent outbreak of personal purity.

The Stench of Hypocrisy

In reality it is somewhat depressing and even sickening – not least because many of those who are leading the witch-hunts are possibly themselves the witches. The stench of hypocrisy fills the airwaves. Harvey Weinstein for example marched against Donald Trump’s attitude towards women, Jimmy Saville campaigned for children’s charities, and Hollywood celebrities lauded Roman Polanski whilst knowing that he was guilty of child rape.  Netflix have stopped production on House of Cards because of Spacey’s alleged misuse of power for sexual ends.  House of Cards is a programme that glorifies and celebrates such abuse (its why I stopped watching it!). ‘You, then, who teach others, do you not teach yourself?’ (Romans 2:21). As regards church hypocrisy it is surely evident to anyone who follow the Christ who told us to care for, love and protest the little ones, that those who misuse the Bible in order to obtain and abuse power, are worthy of the lowest pit in hell. The second lowest must be for those in authority in the church who seek to cover that up. The notion that the name of Christ or his beautiful word can be used to corrupt the humanity that he created is about as blasphemous as it can get.

Returning to the wider society, it’s not so much the individual hypocrisy that concerns me as the collective hypocrisy being displayed by an elite that cannot seem to grasp the basic biblical and common sense principle – what you sow, you reap.

Ideas have Consequences

When we desacralised sex, removed it from any connection with marriage, family and children, and thought that we could have what we want, when we want, without consequences – what did we expect would happen? Did no-one other than Mary Whitehouse foresee the increase in sexually transmitted diseases, the broken homes and the sexual abuse of power? When Gary Glitter sang to screaming teenage girls ‘do you want to touch me?’ what did we think he was referring to? Rod Liddle in his latest book, Selfish Whining Monkeys, calls the music of my teenage years a ‘mass grooming exercise’. Does he have a point?

Denial

Our society is in mass denial; refusing to face up to the mess that we’ve made of the world that He created. This is not just about feminism and male power (although it is that). Its about the abuse of power by human beings, males and females, whether heterosexual or homosexual. It’s astonishing that people actually seem to believe, or want to believe that women cannot be guilty of the abuse of power. It’s astonishing that the fury against Kevin Spacey is not so much because he is alleged to have abused a 14 year old boy, but because he came out as gay. It is surely right to talk about when powerful men use sex as a weapon. It is also right to talk about when powerful women use sex as a weapon. As it is for heterosexuals and homosexuals.

I think of the college lecturer who told a colleague who had found her ‘making out’ with a student ‘you say anything and I’ll accuse you of homophobia’ – end of career. Or the student who had been raped by a businessman and was told by the police that ‘gay rape’ was almost impossible to prove. Or the female student who was date-raped by a man and again told that it was almost impossible to prove. Its not just wannabe film stars who are given the impression that career advancement is dependent on who you sleep with. Politics, business and education have the same problem. Sexual abuse is endemic in our culture. To limit it to one issue or one group of people is to trivialise and refuse to deal with the problem.

Elitist Bourgeois Morality

If we were prepared to face up to reality we would see that this is what happens when you don’t take into account human sinfulness and believe, despite all the evidence, that human beings are basically good. It’s what happens when you exchange the wonderful gift of God-given sex for the perversion that the devil sells. This is about society’s hubris in thinking we can get rid of the roots and somehow retain the fruits. And it’s about the abuse of power by the powerful. Elitist bourgeois morality is the new absolutist ethic for our culture and, surprise, surprise, it is designed for the benefit of the elites who make the rules. They don’t pay the price. The poor do. Disproportionately.

Simeon Muller/Unsplash

The Answer?

The Christian answer is not to preach a perceived Victorian morality. It is to preach the Good news. Humanity is broken. We are broken. Human beings need to be redeemed from the abuse of power and the effects of the perversion of the good gifts that God has given us. That is why Christ came. To the poor. To the prostitutes. Even to the powerful. Our society has a choice – we can indulge in the handwringing, moralising, remorse blame game, say ‘never again’ and then repeat the same process in a couple of years. Or we can repent and seek reformation and renewal. Will anyone in power dare to say that? Or would that be the ultimate blasphemy against the Holy State?

 David Robertson is Associate Director of Solas CPC in Dundee and minister at St Peter’s Free Church. Follow him on Twitter @TheWeeFlea.

Weinstein, a French Brexit Cantata and the continued march of progressive ideology | Quantum 114

LED 13 – Harvey Weinstein – Juncker in a bar – Bertrand Cantat – Freedom to Steal in London – Flu and Sexual Orientation – The 50th Anniversary of the Abortion Act – Thomas the Tank Engine – The Threat to Freedom of Speech – Juan Mata

28 thoughts on “Weinstein, Spacey and the hypocrisy of the current moral panic

  1. “For some the church has become so tainted with abuse that the words paedophile and priest are seen as synonymous.”

    There may be other examples of people making that assertion but the one that I know of was John Humphrys on the ‘Today’ programme. To be fair, he said, ‘almost synonymous’. Either way, the statement is outrageous. I complained to the BBC and went through various stages of complaint. Their final defence was that it was okay to make the statement as it would not have misled their average listener. So you can say anything you like on the BBC, just so long as the BBC decides that it would not have misled their average listener.

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  2. Your post seems to blithely disregard the centuries of sexual assault (including child abuse within the church) that existed while marriage was regarded as sacrosanct.

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      1. Oh, dear, that’s rather uncalled for!

        I merely point out that in your blog post you suggest that present day mores is responsible for sexual assault, while not mentioning that this has always been with us, even when marriage was sacrosanct. And somehow that leads to me being accused of having a nasty twisted mind and using innuendo. I am genuinely perplexed by your assertions that this is a present day phenomenon. Do you deny the widespread child abuse within the church? Please, if you are going to engage with me here, do so in a civilised fashion.

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      2. I’m sorry but it was called for. You come on here and make comments on the basis of something that was not said. You did not just merely point out but you stated something that was false. I did not state that present day sexual mores were responsible for sexual assault, nor did I deny that sexual assault has always been with us. I never stated that this was a present day phenomena. I was just simply commenting on the present day…..I was not giving an historical analysis nor commenting on any of the issues you state. What you did was turn the whole post on its head to suit your own agenda and to attack the biblical teaching about marriage. It was twisted and nasty. Why do it? Why cheapen what is good with innuendo and accusation? If you are going to comment can I simply request that you comment on what is said and don’t have me waste time commenting on your comments about was has not been said!

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      3. Wee Flea, in your section ‘Ideas have consequences’ you DO suggest that this is a recent phenomenon, and in doing so you ignore that misogyny, sexual abuse and harassment have been with us from the beginning. You entirely misunderstand my position. I am not attacking marriage – I believe in it and enjoy the privilege of a very happy marriage where I am an equal partner. I am not attacking Christianity or the church. My stance is that patriarchy and misogyny find a convenient hiding place within the church, as they do in many other parts of our society. I love the church the way one loves one’s family, without being blind to its faults.

        I do not have the ‘nasty, twisted mind’ you suggest. But I will call out misogyny and patriarchy wherever I come across it, and not just because they are bad for women, but because it also has bad consequences for men and for children.

        Your statement ‘you come on here…’ suggests you are angered at my making comments on your blog. Of course, if you prefer I don’t comment then that is your prerogative – you don’t need to approve my posts. But presumably you write so that your blog is read not only by those who always agree with everything you say.

        Thank you for agreeing that there has been widespread child abuse within the church. I did not suggest it was more widespread within the church than within other institutions of society, but we cannot ignore that it has happened there, and not just since Mary Whitehouse’s day.

        The word ‘innuendo’ implies an intent to denigrate. My intention is not to denigrate you, the church or Christianity. My intention is to illuminate the dark places created by misogyny and patriarchy. And I’ll go on doing that – and on your blog if you allow me to – it’s your call.

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      4. I am commenting on the current situation (that tends to be what happens when you are not doing a historical piece). I did not make the claim that this was something completely new – there is nothing new under the sun.

        And when you attack Christ’s teaching on marriage you are attacking marriage.

        It is very easy to set yourself up as some kind of SJW calling out misogyny and patriarchy (which of course do exist) – the trouble is that you seem to have a habit of calling anything you don’t agree with as misogyny and patriarchy.

        You are correct in saying that I welcome comments from people who disagree with my posts and I love the fact that people read them. And don’t worry I don’t usually get angered about them – although I do get annoyed when people keep commenting about things that have not been said. I prefer intelligent and honest comments – even if they disagree with me.

        So feel free to comment – but do so on the understanding that I will respond if I think your comments are wrong or harmful.

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      5. Wee Flea, we could go on for ever on this one, but I would finally ask you to note that I did NOT say that you had said it was a recent phenomenon, merely that you had disregarded the past, suggesting it was recent.

        I have no idea what a SJW is! I assume it is another of your insults?

        No, I am not attacking Christ’s teaching on marriage, so please, if your principle is that one should not comment on what has not been said, it would be good if you applied this to your own comments. Even if I had rejected Christ’s teaching on marriage, I would not necessarily be rejecting marriage – it is not an institution entirely owned by the Christian church.

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      6. And again I did not ignore the past or disregard it… An SJW is a Social Justice Warrior…its not necessarily an insult…

        You ARE attacking Christ’s teaching on marriage – and making a mockery of it. Christ owns everything…including marriage.

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      1. No _ I don’t deny that there has been child abuse within the church – just as in the rest of society. As for ‘widespread’ I’m not sure that it is any more widespread than in any other institution of society.

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  3. It would seem that current events bear out that sexual abuse is not just limited to the church after all, who’d have thought it!!

    Or is that just another inconvenient fact in the ongoing “hip” persecution of Christians??

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    1. Andrew Brown, I said, ‘…including child abuse within the church..’. I did not suggest it was limited to the church!

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  4. It doesn’t matter what you say, your motives are clear.

    It is unfortunate that the very society that has been moulded from Christian ethics over the centuries is now being pulled apart by those who use the very freedoms intwined with it.

    Almost as if there is some “Common Purpose” at work….

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    1. I have no desire to ‘pull apart Christian ethics’ as you put it, Andrew. If anything, I long for the church to be fully true to its calling. Now you and I may disagree as to the detail of what that calling entails, but please do not make assumptions about my motives.

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  5. No, I am not attacking Christ’s teaching on marriage; I am saying there is more than one interpretation of the text. And marriage exists outside Christianity, so in that sense Christianity does not own it.

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    1. But Christ as God does own everything – including marriage. And yes you are attacking Christ’s teaching on marriage – which is clear. It is the devil who seeks to obscure the Word of God by asking ‘did God really say?’….

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      1. I understand you will reject some interpretations of scripture, Wee Flea. There are many other interpretations, however.

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      2. No – you don’t get away with that. We don’t get to make up our own interpretations to suit ourselves. Scripture is very clear on marriage. You have to be either fundamentally dishonest or genuinely dumb not to be able to work out what it is.

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  6. Ah, the pejorative term, ‘social justice warrior’! True, it did start as a neutral term, but has increasingly been used as an insult. But I don’t mind being called names as usually people resort to using them when losing the debate.

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    1. Oh, dear, Andrew Brown, I raise some questions about authoritative statements made on this blog and yet I am the one said to need to be right about absolutely everything! I certainly don’t think so! I say there are other ways of interpreting, other perspectives, and yet I am told I am the one who needs to be right all the time!

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