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We reap what we sow. Just ask impartial political and social analysts how this spate of men behaving badly started. The answer ought to come back that Harvey Weinstein, Al Franken, Matt Lauer, Bill O’Reilly and Bill Cosby are just the tip of a nefarious iceberg.
Did this all start with society’s open cover-up of Bill Clinton’s peccadillos? It didn’t help that his “did not have sex with that woman” line was believed or at least accepted by feminists and liberals because he was their man. Notice they aren’t quite so forgiving of President Trump’s crude statements about the fun of promiscuously grabbing random women, yet such Clintonesque behavior is tolerated by Trump’s admirers. Cue Tammy Wynette singing “Stand By Your Man.”
No, the dalliances of powerful men have too long been overlooked. The brazen affairs of President JFK are now well chronicled; nude swimming with women in the White House pool; Secret Service guards diverting his wife Jackie away from the pool’s entry door; nightly rendezvouses with ladies to help Jack with his headaches. All this was tolerated because, well, “he is the president.” Yes, that was the accepted rational given at the time by the media for not publishing his repeated deplorable behaviors. The press covered up affairs of Lyndon Johnson, Dwight Eisenhower, and FDR with the excuse “boys will be boys.”
The first time I heard that canard was from my father. He was disgusted with the behavior of his fellow Air Corp officers in World War II. Married men openly dated local girls stationed in Hawaii before and after the bombing of Pearl Harbor on December 7, 1941. By dating, we are talking more than moonlight strolls on the beach! Dad often told his sons that the rationalizations were legion, with the most common one being, “boys will be boys.” He didn’t buy it for a minute.
Up until the #MeToo movement got started, far too many people – men and women – bought that nonsense. Some folks misquote scriptures and say, “you shouldn’t judge.” That out-of-context canard is a discussion for another time, but my father had no trouble looking his sons in the eyes and stating clearly, “that is terrible behavior. Your morals matter. No excuses.”
After hundreds of years of men behaving badly, and way too many women willing to participate in the cover ups, the victims of male predatory and promiscuous sexual practices have courageously stood up, one by one, and said, “I didn’t ask for the lecherous behavior, didn’t want it and demand it stop.”
How women behaved in all of this, and whatever they’ve contributed to this debauchery, doesn’t excuse anyone. Bad behavior is bad behavior. Men or women. It’s almost impossible to say this truth without people coming unglued, and for good reason. Improper legal practices in the past have excused rape because of a woman’s provocative dress or actions. No excuse is acceptable.
The answer to all of this is simple, but far more than a hashtag campaign. Live the Gospel of Christ. Chastity, modesty, and fidelity are not outside the ability of anyone to live. Temperance in alcohol would eliminate a huge amount of the grief as it relates to this topic. Parents should actively and purposefully teach their sons AND daughters to avoid dangerous situation, and provocative fashions, talk and actions.
In 1983, I attended a dinner for the Reverend Jerry Falwell who started The Moral Majority, not as a vaunt but a goal, and later Liberty University. A reporter asked Rev. Falwell, “If you were driving down a country road at dusk and saw a lady off to the side of the road with car trouble, would you give her a lift into town?” Some in our party were surprised by his answer.
“We both have too much at risk.” He went on to explain that he would stop, try to fix the problem and stay with her until he could flag someone down. He would miss whatever meeting he had to drive with her to town to get a tow truck or help her out in any other way. He clearly stated he would NEVER be alone with a woman who was not part of his family. Critics thought him a prude.
The same people who are aghast at the randy, stud-ram ethics of Weinstein, et.al., constantly ridicule Vice President Mike Pence for his prudence. They sneer when he politely states categorically that he will never have dinner with just a single lady. His moral line in the sand is drawn and he won’t cross it. Considering his detractor’s inability to understand the consequences of moral actions, he’s doing something very right. VP Pence has stated he would never invite a woman to his hotel room “just for business.”
A word of advice for leaders in business, church, politics, etc. Here’s a thought: Eliminate closed, opaque, locked doors. Eliminate blinds. Create a physically transparent work place. Matt Lauer would not have done what he did to women in his office if the complicit bosses at NBC had officially declared “no locked or opaque doors.”
Many women have set an example by drawing absolute moral lines in the sand. Sometimes it has cost them their jobs. That is the price of courage rather than unintentionally becoming an enabler or complicit in rotten behavior.
Laws, lawsuits, firings and such will not end this spate of bad behavior. Yes, we’ll fire people and demand others resign, but that’s just an ineffective attempt to cure societal woes. The cure begins in gospel principles.
As the Book of Mormon clearly demonstrates, when surface behavior changes without soulful repentance, the disease will return with a vengeance. We reap what we sow.