As a country we are thick in the midst of a national conversation about sexual harassment and assault. It is both hard and absolutely necessary.
I’ve been reluctant to say what I’m about to say, for fear of being misunderstood.
The recent firings of very high profile men has left some people feeling “bad” for them, or arguing that they are victims of a societal witch hunt. Some folks want to excuse their behavior, saying that it was simply a bad choice, and not indicative of their true character. But let’s be clear: the men who have been fired from their jobs were accused by several women—some by a legion of women. Plus, many of the allegations were corroborated by the testimonies of other people, who confirmed that the woman told them about the incident(s) years ago. The fact that the men haven’t (yet) been convicted of crimes does not mean that they are innocent. Termination from any company requires a clear breach to company policy, not mere innuendo. Otherwise, lawsuits.
So let me clearly state that I don’t feel sorry for these men because they were fired as a consequence of their illegal behavior. @@What I want to clearly say is that these men need our compassion, even if they don’t deserve it.@@
What I want to focus on now are the perpetrators because I fear that they will be discarded, just like they discarded the well-being of the women they abused. Neither is right.
I get that it’s hard to have—or even desire to have—compassion on men who used their power and position to harass and assault women. It feels like the women should receive all of the compassion. And they should. They should get all of the compassion and attention that we can give. But here’s the thing: there isn’t a cap on compassion. There’s enough for both parties. As hard as it is to say—the men need our compassion too. Please hear me out.
The depraved self demeans others to exalt itself. It hurts others, sexually assaults women because he wants to and feels that he can. The depraved self is sick. And I don’t mean sick as in “I-have-a-disease-and-it’s-not-my-fault” sick. I mean sick as in sin-sick: ladened with sin that grows every time he indulges it with a lewd act or thought. Like a cancer, it grows—until it kills him, or is either expunged from his body violently, or is somehow healed miraculously.
Facing your depravity is so haunting a task that most of us never fully do it. We prefer to think of ourselves as “good” people. Having to look at your sin and its impact on others’ lives shatters your self perception. The rationalization and justification for sin—it’s not that big of a deal, she wanted it, look at what she was wearing—once demolished, leaves you reeling from the chards of your idealized self.
It is the depraved self that needs the compassion. The depraved self needs a deep transformation.
Although I’m an advocate for however one finds transformation, whether it’s counseling or some version of the steps, I know someone who is able to transform even the most depraved self and change him (or her) into a new person.
In scripture, Jesus’ compassion abounds, even and especially to the depraved. I’m reminded of his words in Mark 2:17 "Healthy people don't need a doctor—sick people do. I have come to call not those who think they are righteous, but those who know they are sinners.”
As these men face their depravity, (or at least some of them), they have the opportunity to experience a transformative love and compassion.
And as more stories of harassment and assault emerge, my heart will continue to ache for the women who were sinned against, and for the men who sinned against them.
It’s what Jesus did, and what I choose to do, too.