by Johnathan Arnold
On November 29, 20-year NBC News veteran Matt Lauer was fired after sexual harassment allegations. Multiple women have come forward with graphic stories, including one employee who claims Lauer solicited her in his office and reprimanded her for refusing his advances.
While this was a devastating shock to many of Lauer’s family members and coworkers, it is one incident in a line of similar situations this year. From journalist Charlie Rose to Hollywood producer Harvey Weinstein to Senator Al Franken, the secular world is launching a warranted crusade against all forms of sexual misconduct in the workplace. Social media is currently flooded with expressions of pain, anger, and cynicism.
Lauer’s coworker Savannah Guthrie said, “All we can say is we are heartbroken; I’m heartbroken.” Although we often characterize unbelievers as flippant and unserious about ethics and morality, many are hurting deeply. This is no time to prove a point. We should not capitalize on people’s brokenness to advance our agenda. Rather, this is the time to herald the glorious Good News that there is forgiveness and soul-deep healing for sexual sin and its scars.
Humility and Hope, Not Cynicism
While Hollywood is imploding, and America is reaping the harvest of over half a decade of Playboy and on-screen porn, we have a thousand reasons to be humble. If not for grace, such would certainly be some of us. And even if you do not identify with the Evangelical Christian majority, it is hard not to feel the pain of a history littered with similar misconduct at the highest levels of religious leadership. A sure way to be dismissed as hypocrites in these troubling days is to assault sinners with cynicism.
A cynical attitude in the break room or on Twitter is dangerously close to sinful pride and Pharisaism. We must meet a sexually perverse, deeply wounded, racially divided, gender dysphoric culture with grace and truth at every turn. "Jesus," sweetest name I know, sounds nothing like "told you so” or “you had it coming.”
Proverbs 18:12 warns, “Before destruction the heart of man is haughty, and before honor is humility.” Paul urges, “if a man be overtaken in a fault, ye which are spiritual, restore such an one in the spirit of meekness; considering thyself, lest thou also be tempted.” Although Paul is speaking about restoring Christians, we should be equally careful about our attitude towards unbelievers like Matt Lauer lest we forget that we are not above falling. Jesus isn’t in the stone-throwing business.
Good News of Great Joy
Instead of pointing to the darkness of our day, we should see it as a perfect backdrop on which to shine the brilliant “light of the knowledge of the glory of God in the face of Jesus Christ” (2 Cor. 4:6). Paul’s charge for the Gentiles was “to open their eyes, and to turn them from darkness to light, and from the power of Satan unto God, that they may receive forgiveness of sins, and inheritance among them which are sanctified by faith that is in [Christ]” (Acts 26:18). The Lord’s commission to us is no less promising.
Matt Lauer released a statement in which he said, “There are no words to express my sorrow and regret for the pain I have caused others by words and actions. To the people I have hurt, I am truly sorry. As I am writing this, I realize the depth of the damage and disappointment I have left behind at home and at NBC.” If Lauer’s grief is sincere, he may be more ripe for harvest than ever before in his life; let us pray that the Lord of the harvest sends a laborer to point Lauer to his only hope for forgiveness and transformation: the Christ who bore his sins on the cross.
While “nothing is secret, that shall not be made manifest; neither anything hid, that shall not be known and come abroad” (Luke 8:17), God is not in the business of exposing sin for the sake of exposing sin. Instead, he “commandeth all men everywhere to repent” (Acts 17:30). News journalists, Hollywood moguls, Wall Street sharks, and larger-than-life senators are not beyond the reach of God’s grace.
While we may not have access to prominent figures in Hollywood or D.C., our attitude is on display at Walmart and Aldi’s. When the topic of sexual misconduct in the workplace inevitably arises, we have an opportunity to say, “Although it is so sad to hear about people’s choices, we have all sinned and the wages of sin are death. Thankfully, Jesus died in our place, paying the penalty, so that we could be forgiven and delivered!”
Because of Jesus, we have hope amidst sexual misconduct allegations.
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Dr. Timothy Cooley, Sr.
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