“Teacher, what must I do to inherit eternal life?” asked the Torah teacher.
“What is written in the Law?” Jesus replied. “How do you read it?” The Torah teacher answered, “Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your strength and with all your mind; and, love your neighbor as yourself.”
“You have answered correctly,” Jesus replied. “Do this and you will live.”
The Torah teacher pressed the issue (Luke 10: 25-37). Jesus taught him and us about love. He used the parable of the Good Samaritan to teach us that love is messy and tough. The love of Jesus and believers is to love the unlovable. If believers love those who are most difficult to love, then loving others is less difficult. He used the hate relationship between Jews and their despised Samaritan cousins to drive the point home.
“Prayers for Harvey” is not about the recent hurricane. It is about the unfolding story of Harvey Weinstein. If you do not know Harvey, he is a Hollywood mogul who has plummeted from a seat of Hollywood power to disgrace as the women he has sexually abused and assaulted for decades are coming forward with their stories.
There is no excuse or justification for Harvey. There is an explanation, however. And serious cultural introspection should lead most of us away from condemnation of Harvey and toward humble confession.
The insatiable magnetism of Hollywood has enticed us too. The same temptation was true in Jesus’ times. When Jesus walked our earth, Alexander the Great, one of the greatest missionaries of all time, had established his version of me-centered religion. It was Hellenism. The parable of the prodigal son described it. The enticement of individualism, sexual gratification, and debauchery was the feature of Alexander’s mission, and it sucked people in like an irresistible magnet. Alexander’s theatres entertained, his temples offered free-sex, his arenas elevated sports, and his arenas promoted violence.
That is the mission of Hollywood. The Hollywood culture is defined by pleasurable fantasy. The identities of real people are defined by their characters and not by their God-given humanity.
Over the past decades, Hollywood has drifted farther from normal reality and toward abnormal fantasy. Cultural norms, societal structures, and healthy relationship models have been replaced with dysfunctional social and cultural constructs. Entertainers have become self-appointed experts on everything from politics to science to history.
In the Hollywood culture, sexual freedom and dysfunction are celebrated to the point where the abnormal has been made normal. While Hollywood condemns anyone who makes a suggestive comment, a lewd remark, or gawks at an actress; movies and television centralize sex and violence. Celebrities arrive at award shows in fishnet or transparent clothing, and fashion critics marvel. Exposure is the norm, while gawkers are criticized. The “casting couch” is joked about and considered the norm, but when actual activities that are happening on it are exposed, celebrities and the media act appalled (after all they are talented actors).
It is eye-opening when clouds of fantasy are rolled back and the light exposes reality, which brings us back to Harvey.
There is no excuse for the use of power to sexually assault anyone!
But there is an explanation. Harvey epitomizes the culture of fantasy: the culture that preaches that the abnormal is normal, satisfying sexual pleasure without norms is normal, and the casting couch is simply a pleasure prop and the actions on it are simply fantasy turned to reality in the movie of life.
Be careful! It is so easy to condemn. Both believers and secularists are complicit. Which hormonal male does not find some pleasure in the Sports Illustrated swimsuit issue? Do believers always use discernment in their choices of media, R-rated movies, and violent video games? Hollywood has built an industry on sex and violence, and we are among the consumers. The Prodigal was lured. Are we any different?
In Harvey’s Hollywood culture, sex not only made him millions on the fantastical screen, but fantasy was his reality. The lines were crossed. Some female starlets were likely willing to provide sex for status. Others were likely victims of assault, and they were abused.
Why would I suggest that we pray for Harvey? Because Harvey and each of us were uniquely made by our Creator, guilty of our own sin, and dependent on God’s grace.
We pray because our culture has been corrupted by sin. The Hellenism of Alexander is the humanism and decadence of the media culture today. It is the same thing. Pursuit of personal pleasure tore Adam and Eve from the Father, corrupts our nature, and draws us like a magnet from God.
Harvey is a wakeup call to those of us who follow Jesus and are called to lead. Resist the culture, understand the temptation and our tendency to dabble in it, and be light and salt in a broken world. If those who have chosen to answer the call, and follow Jesus, do not stand tall as light and salt then we have no right to criticize.
Live for Jesus. It is the only hope for our culture, for Harvey, for our world, and for each of us.
Devotionals are written by Jeff Blamer, Vice President of Member Services