Wow, the spigots have been turned on wide open and left on. Once the Harvey Weinstein story took off concerning sexual harassment and assault, accusations have been flying at every turn. We have even more accusations coming from the entertainment industry, some even against big name stars. But it is not just the entertainment business; we see it in sports, politics, the financial sector, big business, and just about everywhere else you turn. So, what is going on?
Understanding this phenomenon is not really that difficult. That said, what is happening has a bit of internal contradiction built into it that can make it a little hard to get your mind around. So let’s take a look at the big picture.
One of the first things we must do is identify the worldview foundation that animates this issue. There must be some set of beliefs that make sexual harassment and assault seem okay for some people. But before we look at the worldview issue, we need to go back one more step and identify reality as it actually exists. There are those who want to deny this reality, but it exists none the less; human beings are fallen creatures that have a predisposition to sin, and one of the manifestations of that is sexual harassment and assault. But while the mere fact of a human’s predisposition to sin does explain why it happens, it does not explain why some people justify it. That justification comes from people’s worldview.
Of course, American society was founded upon a Christian worldview that asserts that sexual harassment and assault is wrong based on God’s revelation concerning the dignity of man. In previous times, pretty much everyone acknowledged these things to be wrong – to the extent that it has been universally enshrined in our legal system as a crime. This does not mean that there are not cases where people look the other way or refuse to enforce the laws, but at the very least there was a consensus that it was wrong.
Zoom forward to modern society. American society is no longer dominated by Christian worldview beliefs. Naturalism now has that distinction. Naturalism is the belief that the natural universe is all that exists, and that there is no God. As such, God is no longer looked to as the source of moral beliefs; there is no one to define morality but human beings. Beyond that, since man is necessarily nothing more than a naturally evolved biological animal, it is natural and normal that we act like animals. Sexual activity in general, in and of itself, is seen to be natural and normal with no particular moral restraints imposed upon it. The fact that human beings have evolved a brain that is of a higher order than other creatures on earth, does not mitigate, in any way, our animal nature.
So, what does this naturalistic worldview thinking lead to? It leads to a belief that morality is defined by human beings based either upon personal preference or power. There is no other possibility. Obviously, no one wants to be sexually harassed or assaulted, so virtually everyone’s personal preference is to not be sexually harassed or assaulted. However, personal preference can only go so far in mitigating that kind of behavior. To actually stop it, the person who might potentially be attacked must gain enough power to stop the attacker.
What we see happening now is exactly that dynamic. Of course, Christians have always rejected this kind of behavior because of our understanding that God considered it sin. The factor that restrains this behavior for Christians is internal to the individual. But based on a naturalistic point of view, sin does not exist. What this means is that now the restraining factor must be some external force. So what we see going on now is that those who have been powerless in the past have managed to gain enough power in society to fight back against those who used to have power over them. They have gained power by themselves getting into more powerful positions, and by changing the narrative concerning the topic of victimhood in society. So the remedy now being pushed is not about moral beliefs, but about power.
Of course, stopping this kind of behavior is a good thing no matter the reason for it. That said, when morality is defined by relativistic thinking, as in the case of Naturalism, there is nothing to stop it from coming back just as soon as the power pendulum swings back. The only permanent solution is a change of heart as people come to know a personal relationship with God through Jesus Christ, and, from that, adopt a biblical worldview.