The #MeToo movement may be the worst thing to happen to Christian groups that go out of their way to shield sex-offending pastors.
Rather than take responsibility for perpetuating a culture that enables abusers, Brett McCracken, senior editor at The Gospel Coalition, seizes the opportunity to once again blame Hollywood for all of society’s sexual problems.
The prevalence of sex and sexualized (often naked) bodies in today’s films and TV shows (including Golden Globe nominee Game of Thrones) is just one way Hollywood reveals its understanding of sex as a lust-driven consumer commodity. The very idea of sexual acts and sexualized bodies on a screen, for the gaze of the masses, presents sex in consumer terms — inviting third-party observers into a sexual intimacy that doesn’t belong to them but which feels like their prerogative to consume.
Nudity and depictions of sex aside, the dominant narrative and thematic positioning of sex in Hollywood narratives is that lust and sexual desire are not to be denied if there is consent. Anything goes if it feels true. Love is love. And while “consent as the only boundary” feels fair and freeing in Hollywood’s eyes, the reality is it only exacerbates the pornified culture that sadly sexualizes every person and every relational possibility.
McCracken goes on to claim that “the entertainment industry at large must seriously consider how its prevailing views of sex have sown the seeds of the present sordid scandals.” As if depictions of on-screen sex are the main reason people like Harvey Weinstein were able to get away with abusive behavior for so long.
McCracken has a vague idea of consent, but conveniently ignores the fact that actors who do nude scenes are choosing to do so. It’s unfortunate that this needs to be pointed out, but an actress taking her clothes off onscreen for artistic reasons isn’t even comparable to rape. And “the movie made me do it” is in no way a valid excuse.
No one is asking McCracken to approve of sex outside of marriage, but consensual sex out of wedlock is always better than sexual assault. And, predictably, he ignores the importance of consent in marital relationships, too.
Christians like him lack a nuanced view of sex. There are, to quote blogger Libby Anne, only two boxes in which sex falls for people like him: married and non-married. That means consensual sex outside of marriage is always considered a travesty and non-consensual sex within a marriage doesn’t even exist.
In the conclusion to his piece, McCracken asks the following question:
There are burn victims everywhere, bearing the scars of #MeToo abuse, sexual guilt, identity confusion, and more. How should the church respond?
Here’s a suggestion: start by denouncing the lie that women “ask for it” by failing to adhere to modesty codes, and stop giving a rapists a pass by giving them standing ovations when they make pseudo-apologies decades after their assaults.
At least Hollywood is finally cleaning house.
Why aren’t evangelical churches doing the same?
McCracken notes — very briefly — that the church has been “slow to reckon with our own bad behavior,” but he quickly sidesteps any real discussion about that. Instead, he suggests that the Christian solution to the problem is to limit sex to straight married couples and never depict it anywhere else, because “playing with fire outside the fireplace may be pleasurable, but it always leaves us with scars.”
It’s a dangerous mindset that creates far more problems than it solves.
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