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Beyond politics

Evaluating accusations of sexual misconduct

Beyond politics

Former Alabama chief justice and U.S. Senate candidate Roy Moore speaks at a news conference on Thursday in Birmingham, Ala. (Brynn Anderson/AP)

The past two days have brought more Roy Moore accusers, but the big news is the new front in the sexual predator wars: Washington, with accusations against Sen. Al Franken, D-Minn., that contain photographic evidence. This development shows how the current cultural moment can be a positive one for a Biblical sexual ethic—if we don’t let short-term considerations overwhelm our theology.

Two thousand years ago the New Testament displayed a pro-woman outlook. In opposition to Rome’s condescension to women as property, the Gospels and the Book of Acts show them, like men, as made in God’s image and worthy of respect. Women followed Jesus, witnessed the empty tomb, and were central in the formation of early churches. The Apostle Paul told men to love and defend their wives and not treat them as sexual playthings or kitchen help who could be dismissed for burning dinner.

Over the past week the spotlight on sexual predators moved from Hollywood and New York to Alabama, but that’s a temporary stopping point on the road to Washington. I’ve only spent a not-so-grand total of about three years in D.C., but even I have heard of the sexual harassment and more that young women face there. It’s important for evangelicals not to defend un-Biblical treatment of women but to expose and reduce it.

We can’t do that if in every instance we calculate whether it will work to our immediate political detriment. Feminists such as Gloria Steinem did that regarding President Bill Clinton in 1998. She acknowledged in a New York Times column on March 22, 1998, that “President Clinton may be a candidate for sex addiction therapy. But feminists will still have been right to resist pressure by the right wing and the media to call for his resignation or impeachment.”

Steinem said the Monica Lewinsky affair really did not count, despite Lewinsky’s age and the power differential, because she welcomed the attention. Regarding Clinton’s attack on Kathleen Willey, Steinem said he “made a gross, dumb and reckless pass at a supporter during a low point in her life. She pushed him away, she said, and it never happened again. In other words, President Clinton took ‘no’ for an answer.”

Steinem concluded by saying it didn’t even matter that Clinton lied under oath, because “we have a responsibility to make it O.K. for politicians to tell the truth—providing they are respectful of ‘no means no; yes means yes’—and still be able to enter high office, including the Presidency. Until then, we will disqualify energy and talent the country needs.”

Liberal social critic Caitlin Flanagan wrote earlier this week in The Atlantic that “The Democratic Party needs to make its own reckoning of the way it protected Bill Clinton. The party needs to come to terms with the fact that it was so enraptured by their brilliant, Big Dog president and his stunning string of progressive accomplishments that it abandoned some of its central principles.”

And that returns us to a central question concerning U.S. Senate candidate Roy Moore: We still don’t know whether he did what he’s accused of, but some WORLD members have told me that if he made passes at young women and tried to get physical with some but gave up when they pushed him away, so what? In other words—and keeping in mind differences between the accusations against Moore and those against Clinton—some conservative evangelicals are now acting toward Moore as feminists acted toward Bill Clinton.

Again, I have no problem with those who thoughtfully consider all the evidence. My concern is with those who say the evidence doesn’t matter because Republicans MUST win this election. Is an election worth abandonment of central Biblical principles regarding women’s worth? What do we say to young evangelical women? And when we look back at this moment 20 years from now, will we wonder: Was it worth it?


  • DakotaLutheran
    Posted: Fri, 11/17/2017 03:07 pm

    My concern is slightly different from what Marvin's article discusses. What concerns me more is how we as Christians, as a society, ought to deal with wrongdoing. It is made clear in Matthew 18 that when you are wronged the first response ought to be personal and private. It is only after that fails that we are to make it public. I would strongly suggest that this wisdom applies not only to Christians. I think that we can see the reason for that wisdom today, not only in the case of "sexual harassment," but also with regard to attitudes about homosexuality, and a host of other PC related issues that sweep through the public realm. This public shaming unleashes forces that result in more than actual physical harm. It takes its form in the manifold appearances of scapegoating, public humiliation, inciting a mass hysteria by the Public and fear in the hearts of those so subjected. Today it is "sexual harassment," tomorrow it may be "child abuse," or any host of behaviors that do not conform to the Public's ideal de jure. Is this really how we want to deal with wrongdoing? I'm waiting too for the other shoe to drop: sacraments of Public Confession, Forgiveness, and Restitution. What will have then, I wonder? 

  • DEBORAH BRIXEN's picture
    Posted: Fri, 11/17/2017 03:53 pm

    My problem with all the hearsay uproar regarding Judge Moore is the timing.  What many people are forgetting is that this is the same man who fought for the Ten Commandment to stay in his courtroom.  Where were all the accusers then?!  Why now? Particullarly since one of the incidents (the most recent accusation) was suppose to have taken place after he was married! World Magazine as well as other "Christian" brothers and sisters have labeled this man guilty before he has even had a trial and with out concrete evidence!!

  • Brendan Bossard's picture
    Brendan Bossard
    Posted: Fri, 11/17/2017 10:54 pm

    Actually, first, he placed the Ten Commandments on court property, then fought to keep them there, then defied orders to remove them when he lost.  Was he fighting for the Ten Commandments, or self-advancement?

  • DEBORAH BRIXEN's picture
    Posted: Fri, 11/17/2017 03:57 pm

    Just remember, these same "Christains" elected former President Obama and many of them helped with President Trump.

  • CaptTee's picture
    Posted: Fri, 11/17/2017 04:14 pm

    I agree that those who argue that we should stick with Moore because he is right on other issues are as foolish as the Democrats.

    However, we should focus on the evidence, and most of that has been proven to be bogus, such as the alleged yearbook signature that matched the stamped signature (with the judge's assistant's initials indicating he used the stamp) on the mother's divorce court paperwork, even though the mother's laywer claimed she never met Judge Moore before.

  • MapleBee's picture
    Posted: Fri, 11/17/2017 05:25 pm

    Nicely written parallel structure article.

    Quite weighty and packed with truths that need be explored.

  • MamaC
    Posted: Fri, 11/17/2017 10:24 pm

    Thank you, thank you, Mr. Olasky! The Washington Post published an article that asks of Democrats who supported Bill Clinton against his accusers: "Were they also putting partisanship and their desire to hold onto power above the principles they claim to hold dear?"

    I can't think of a better question to ask of Christians who have supported Trump and Moore.

  • BjW
    Posted: Sat, 11/18/2017 10:02 am

    I believe we need to open the discussion of sexual harrassment to include the actions of women that may encourage this behavior in SOME cases. Let me use an example: When I attend meetings at my inner city church, I carry a gun, and I have a concealed carry license. I do so because I am engaging in risky behavior and want to be able to protect myself. I believe men AND women are currently engaging in risky behaviors.

    Now let us talk about how women dress for business. What is the message women send while wearing short, tight, revealing dresses? For example, I have always believed that many women on Fox News dress inapproriately IF they want to portray  an image of serious  concern.  Their attire is very sexually attractive, while most Fox men wear business suits.

    I hope the harrassment classes that are popping up everywhere include discussions of how NOT to encourage unwanted behaviors. The predator behavior being exposed has really been encouraged by our sexual liberation lifestlyle. Tho, I do remember that even Joseph had to deal with his waywoard boss's wife. He took it on the chin when he was unjustly accused and imprisoned, only to save the Jewish race.



  • Paul B. Taylor's picture
    Paul B. Taylor
    Posted: Sat, 11/18/2017 09:47 pm

    Certainly so far, we cannot determine if candidate Moore is telling the truth considering all of the accusations or only a few.  As politics are these days and as the accountability for telling the truth in the public square is lessening, it appears that many of the accusations being leveled at Americans in public life could be false.  At this point, I believe that there should be NO ACTION TAKEN  in response to those who are accusing Justice Moore of sexual misconduct.  There has to be a thorough investigation, and only after the investigation can we procede with whatever is necessary when we have the truth.  It is only then that we should discipline someone if discipline is necessary.  Otherwise, we are falling into the hands of those whose political activities are questionable and who are usually working for the advancement of the far left.  We can't allow gossip to destroy the political process.

  • JohnSR
    Posted: Sat, 11/18/2017 11:31 am

    How refreshing to hear christian perspectives in a thoughful caring manner. Thank you all for sharing your comments!

  • Woodman
    Posted: Sun, 11/19/2017 02:07 pm

    This is a more balanced look at the dilema Christians face as opposed to what I felt was a knee jerk admonition of Believers in Alabama just 2 days after the story broke which was also authored by Dr. Olasky. 

    One question I have is, knowing what we know about our inheritance from the 1st Adam are we foolish to measure competency of political leaders according to a morality meter rather than a wisdom meter? A lifetime of corrosive, abusive behavior is one thing which doesn't appear to be the case here. Does a deviant act 38 years ago disqualify someone as a morally upstanding leader today? In my mind it's not a black and white answer. Here's a 20 minute debate about Judge Moore between Dennis Prager and Ben Shapiro both of whom are observant Jews. As of today I'd side with Prager who says personal morality doesn't necessarily equate to morality for the wider good. The webhost sides with Shapiro so those on the other side may find solace.

    I thought Wayne Grudem's response to Trump's unwholesome language (versions 1 and 3) was correct and is applicable to the judge.  To those on the other side of the argument I'd ask a hypothetical question: By standing for morally pure righteousness at the expense of giving ground to the evils of socialism which will eventually lead to tyranny are we ultimately supporting immorality? Give us Wisdom Oh Lord.

  • colorpet's picture
    Posted: Sun, 11/19/2017 05:00 pm

    Wow. I have read you for years and trusted you. But even you Olasky are getting evidence mixed up with accusation. They are not one in the same. I have read the accounts by these girls and none of it can I attribute to anything more than an alpha male in a small town trying to find love.

    Do not worry my friend. The fate of Christianity is in good hands.


  • DCal3000
    Posted: Sun, 11/19/2017 10:15 pm

    Dr. Olasky is correct in that we should never disregard the personal morality of political candidates.  It is wrong to say that a candidate's character does not matter.

  • DEBORAH BRIXEN's picture
    Posted: Fri, 11/24/2017 11:28 am

    World News Group readers may want to check out an article at titled "To the Christian Community: 'You are Being Played' About Roy Moore

Creighton Holub/U.S. Army via AP

Then-comedian Al Franken and sports commentator Leeann Tweeden perform a skit in Mosul, Iraq, in 2006, during a USO Tour.