Earle D. Treptow
One big name after another showed up in the headlines accused of sexual impropriety, from harassment and groping to assault and rape. Included on the list were famous comedians, actors, and film producers, as well as leading politicians and journalists—men who took advantage of their positions and exploited others.
The first story of a famous man abusing his authority and assaulting a woman might not have registered for many. It was the second, seventh, and tenth stories, following hard on the heels of the first, that sounded the alarm. Those who took the time to reflect on what had been alleged—and sometimes confessed—experienced a range of emotions, from anger toward the men who had perpetrated such crimes, to frustration with a society that enables abuse with its celebrity worship, to disappointment with a sex-crazed culture that suggests a woman’s body exists for the gratification of men. Exploit women and you show yourself to be despicable. Some men are pigs. Unfortunate, but true.
The stories reported on national news emboldened other women to speak about the sexual abuse they had experienced at the hands of men from all different walks of life, many of whom had no fame or wealth to speak of. There’s one obvious link between the famous men and the rank-and-file men who have acted inappropriately toward women. They’re men. It’s not just some men who are pigs, but many.
I’d rather not say that, of course, but I’m comfortable with it. I’m comfortable saying that many men are pigs, because it allows me to establish a safe distance between the pigs and me. The argument seems foolproof: Because I haven’t done what they’ve done, or haven’t been publicly accused of it, I’m different than the pigs. And better.
Maybe I haven’t sinned in the same way other men have, but I do have something in common with the many pigs out there. I’m a man too. Worse, I’m a sinful man. I have the same sinful nature, capable of all sorts of disgusting thoughts and behaviors, even if I’ve been spared from committing the sins that make headlines.
I must ask myself some questions that make me squirm: What have I done to contribute to the situation in which we find ourselves today? Where have I lived selfishly and self-centeredly, seeing women as existing for my benefit and purposes? How have I failed to be the salt of the earth Jesus designed me to be, to slow the decay in the world around me? When have I been silent when I should have spoken up about the continuing debt men owe to women, to love and serve and protect them?
As it turns out, I’m part of those harassment stories, though my name hasn’t appeared in the articles.
There’s only one thing for us men to do when we recognize our depravity and complicity: repent. We humble ourselves before the Lord each day, confessing that we are unclean pigs, thoroughly sinful by nature. And then we listen anew, with astounded hearts, to his word of full forgiveness in Christ. He absolves us of our failures and declares us righteous in his sight.
Rejoicing in his steadfast love and continual forgiveness, we commit ourselves to being real men, men as God designed us to be. We take up with joy the task the Lord has assigned to us and for which he will equip us—to respect women and serve them, considering them better than ourselves.
Contributing editor Earle Treptow, a professor at Wisconsin Lutheran Seminary, Mequon, Wisconsin, is a member at Christ Alone, Mequon.
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Author: Earle D. Treptow
Volume 105, Number 2
Issue: February 2018
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