Intolerable sexual behavior

The subject of Corona has long dominated the Dutch media, but in recent weeks another topic has also become the talk of the day: intolerable sexual behavior.
Of course, the Me-too commotion of a few years ago did also affect our country. And we have also been kept up to date, in much sordid detail, about the scandals surrounding Jeffrey Epstein and his assistant-in-arms, Ghislaine Maxwell, who now has to answer to the courts. Sexual excesses by politicians, prominent businessmen and key people in the entertainment industry have also been widely reported in the media.

But currently the spotlight is on abuses at home. There has been a shocked reaction to revelations of things that happened behind the scenes of the Voice of Holland talent show. A number of girls and young women have come forward and told of the way they have been treated by a few of the organizers and mentors of the popular show. The accusations range from inappropriate jokes, groping and outright assault and rape. A second shockwave was caused by the sexual misconduct of a director of the Ajax soccer club in Amsterdam, who had no choice but to immediately resign after a number of women accused him of sexual misconduct. It turned out that among other things, he sent pictures of his genitals to women in his work environment. In passing, I learned a word that had so far remained unknown to me: “dickpic.” But from the reports in the newspapers and the discussions on the talk shows, I have since learned that sending women unsolicited photos of one’s male private parts is a fairly common practice. Also this week, an MP chose to resign from politics after it became known that he was guilty of serious sexual misconduct. Meanwhile, the government has appointed Ms. Mariëtte Hamer, a well-known politician, to advise the authorities on such delicate matters.

Sexual intolerable behavior is, of course, not a new phenomenon. In many social organizations and companies, a culture has long prevailed in which men set the (often inappropriate) tone, and women hardly dared to protest when they were treated as sexual objects, and had to put up with all kinds of physical closeness and humiliating “jokes.” Especially in “higher” circles men could get away with things that are not acceptable. Often maids proved to be easy prey for the adolescent son of the lord and lady of the house. Cheating–keeping a mistress–was commonplace among the nobility. Currently, the British Prince Andrew is under heavy fire, but the antics of the Dutch royal highnesses Prince Hendrik and Prince Bernard remain also well known.

Unfortunately, the church was not always an oasis of sexual modesty. The Roman Catholic Church has lost much of its moral authority due to the misconduct of large numbers of clergy. As recently as this week, suspicion flared up again against former Pope Benedict for allegedly ignoring sexual misconduct by a number of priests when he was a bishop and, later, a cardinal in Germany. In the recent past in some Protestant megachurches, clerical leaders have been found to be sexual predators. That priests and pastors (including some in the Adventist Church) sometimes succumb to sexual temptations is not a new development.

It is not always clear where exactly the line must be drawn between imprudent and totally unacceptable behavior, between an innocent flirtation and unwanted intimacy, and where a definite line is crossed. And for all the male misconduct, it must also be recognized that not all women are always paragons of pious purity. It is also clear that there are cultural differences between what should be considered right or wrong. But these and other oft-heard arguments cannot, of course, condone the current wave of reprehensible behavior. Anno 2022, we should all know that misogynistic and harassing behavior in any form cannot be tolerated.

At the same time, Christians must realize that all forms of sexually intolerable behavior must be condemned. There is always a question of immoral behavior when women are discriminated against and cannot achieve the same role and status as their male counterpart because of her gender. The failure to fully recognize female ministers is not primarily a theological issue but a moral problem.

Finally, to all of this, I do think it should be added that the emphasis may be too one-sidedly on sexual misconduct–however serious this is. There are other forms of immoral behavior that are all too often tolerated. One can behave correctly toward the opposite sex, but at the same time be oblivious to the needs of others or not be too careful with the truth–to give just two examples. Therefore, before passing judgment on others, let us always realize that unfortunately there may some moral issues that may need attention in our own life.

One thought on “Intolerable sexual behavior

  1. Ray Stovall

    I would suggest that not treating others as we would like to be treated is immoral behavior, according to the words of Christ and His teachings throughout the NT.

Comments are closed.