The past two months have been a series of revelations.  Beginning with Harvey Weinstein, one powerful man after another has been exposed as a liar, deceiver, and manipulator.   It seems everyone knew about Weinstein. 1 Ronan Farrow, “From Aggressive Overtures to Sexual Assault: Harvey Weinstein’s Accusers Tell Their Stories,” The New Yorker, October 10, 2017, accessed December 1, 2017, https://www.newyorker.com/news/news-desk/from-aggressive-overtures-to-sexual-assault-harvey-weinsteins-accusers-tell-their-stories.   His sexual abuse and manipulation of women was so flagrant, so persistent, and so notorious that not only did insiders know about it, but references to it were included in Oscar 2 Seth MacFarlane, “pic.twitter.com/z8cyxrd693,” Tweet, @SethMacFarlane, October 12, 2017, accessed December 1, 2017, https://twitter.com/SethMacFarlane/status/918193451006431232. speeches 3 “The 30 Rock Joke That Hinted at Harvey Weinstein Allegations,” The Independent, last modified October 11, 2017, accessed December 1, 2017, http://www.independent.co.uk/arts-entertainment/films/news/harvey-weinstein-sexual-assault-allegations-30-rock-reference-tina-fey-jenna-entourage-oscars-a7995091.html. and storylines of sitcoms. 4 “The 30 Rock Joke That Hinted at Harvey Weinstein Allegations,” The Independent, last modified October 11, 2017, accessed December 1, 2017, http://www.independent.co.uk/arts-entertainment/films/news/harvey-weinstein-sexual-assault-allegations-30-rock-reference-tina-fey-jenna-entourage-oscars-a7995091.html. While he has a few supporters, most people in the entertainment industry seem to have the attitude that this was all long, long overdue.

Since that revelation on October 5th, 5 Jodi Kantor and Megan Twohey, “Harvey Weinstein Paid Off Sexual Harassment Accusers for Decades,” The New York Times, October 5, 2017, sec. U.S., accessed December 1, 2017, https://www.nytimes.com/2017/10/05/us/harvey-weinstein-harassment-allegations.html.   one man 6 Fiza Pirani, “From Weinstein to Lauer: A Timeline of 2017’s Sexual Harassment Scandals,” The Atlanta Journal-Constitution, November 30, 2017, accessed December 1, 2017, http://www.ajc.com/news/world/from-weinstein-lauer-timeline-2017-sexual-harassment-scandals/qBKJmUSZRJqgOzeB9yN2JK/. after another 7 Amanda Luz Henning Santiago, “36 Powerful Men Accused of Sexual Misconduct after Harvey Weinstein,” Business Insider, accessed December 1, 2017, http://www.businessinsider.com/powerful-men-accused-of-sexual-misconduct-after-harvey-weinstein-list-2017-10. has been exposed, 8 The Associated Press, “List of Men Accused of Sexual Misconduct,” Washington’s Top News, November 29, 2017, accessed December 1, 2017, https://wtop.com/national/2017/11/list-of-men-in-media-accused-of-sexual-misconduct/. and then Wednesday Matt Lauer was fired. People expect underhanded dealings from politicians.  We aren’t shocked when a movie star turns out to be a lech.  Somehow it is more earth shattering that Matt Lauer who is viewed as if he could be your brother, your uncle, or your dad, is right there with the rest of the dirty bunch.

I think Padma Lakshmi’s response to the news sums up the impact this has had on Lauer’s coworkers.

This morning I woke up expecting to do a cooking segment on the Today show with my friend @MattLauerNBC. Driving uptown I was in shock as I heard the news of his dismissal due to allegations of sexual misconduct at work. As I watched @SavannahGuthrie read Andy Lack’s statement, I was utterly shaken up. I must say that in all the many years I have been on the @TodayShow I have only experienced a warm, cordial and respectful environment. When I walked into 30 Rock it felt like someone had died. The mood was somber to say the least, shell shocked would be more accurate. Like finding out your dad has been cheating on your mom and the happy family you thought you were living in is in fact broken. I must say that in all the years I have known Matt, and worked with him on the Today show, I have never found him to be anything but empathic, kind, totally appropriate, and respectful of me; a consummate professional. But as someone who has experienced sexual assault and sexual harassment I know how hard it is to come forward or even properly process that it is indeed happening to you. Especially when it’s someone who holds such a high place in one’s profession. I don’t know who the women who have come forward are but I can tell you how hard it is to even admit that it’s actually happened. You feel utterly intimidated and often blame yourself. There is little upside for a victim speaking out. And as a victim myself I am thankful they did. I am deeply saddened about Matt as I am saddened about @CharlieRose, two people I have very much looked up to in television. Their presence and contributions to our industry will be sorely missed. But I stand in solidarity with the victims. And while this is a painful period in our cultural history, it is a good and necessary purging of one of the most harmful aspects of the ‘old boys club’. There is always pain when the thorn gets pulled out of the flesh. But only when it’s gone can the healing begin. #MeToo

A post shared by Padma Lakshmi (@padmalakshmi) on

In an age when church attendance is declining, 9 “U.S. Public Becoming Less Religious,” Pew Research Center’s Religion & Public Life Project, November 3, 2015, accessed December 1, 2017, http://www.pewforum.org/2015/11/03/u-s-public-becoming-less-religious/. the media has filled the space that the church used to occupy.   Talking heads tell us the events we should notice, the people we should pay attention to, and what we should think about them.  Among these, Lauer was a bishop.  He has been with the Today Show for 20 years, 10“Matt Lauer,” Wikipedia, December 1, 2017, accessed December 1, 2017, https://en.wikipedia.org/w/index.php?title=Matt_Lauer&oldid=813073396. he was a presence in the homes of millions of living rooms every Thanksgiving, and he interviewed presidents and celebrities.  So if there was this hidden part, a darkness previously unseen, it causes us to reconsider everything else he presented to us doesn’t it?

The Rush to Forgive

As his coworkers sruggled through hosting the show still reeling from the news, they expressed sympathy for him, for his family, and for the women who came forward.  Later in the day, Kathy Lee Gifford did the same, reflecting on the disclosure of her own late husband’s affair.  She began her comments by saying that she didn’t feel like Lauer had betrayed them and said, “May God bless that family and heal,” Gifford said. “I’m sorry Hoda, but in my long life, the only thing I’ve ever been sure of is that only God can heal. There’s no bad time to reach out for his help. 11“Kathie Lee Gifford Is ‘Grappling’ With Matt Lauer’s ‘Today’ Show Termination: ‘We’Re Broken,’” Entertainment Tonight, accessed December 1, 2017, http://www.etonline.com/kathie-lee-gifford-grappling-matt-lauers-today-show-termination-were-broken-91829.

This infuriated many people who felt as if she was giving his actions a pass and were an offense to victims of sexual abuse. 12 Leora Arnowitz, “Kathie Lee Gifford Praying for Matt Lauer after ‘Today’ Show Firing,” Text.Article, Fox News, last modified November 29, 2017, accessed December 1, 2017, http://www.foxnews.com/entertainment/2017/11/29/kathie-lee-gifford-praying-for-matt-lauer-after-today-show-firing.html.

The Danger in Preaching Only One Side of the Gospel Message

Gifford’s words, which were meant to be caring and supported, ended in giving many people a distorted view of forgiveness and, in the end, salvation itself.  To those who have been traumatized by abuse, it seemed as if she was saying “He’s a nice guy, he’s going through a rough time, and we have to forgive.”  It is true we do have to forgive, but there is a huge piece of that equation that wasn’t addressed in her conversation.

When we talk about forgiveness, reconciliation, and restoration, too often all three are conflated into one event.  We are to forgive those who wrong us.  It is for our own well being that Jesus tells us that.  Unforgiveness towards another person is a chain that binds you to both the offender and the offense.  You will never get past it and heal . . . you will never be free . . . until you forgive.

You cut yourself loose by forgiving.

However, that does not mean that the offender has nothing left to do.

The picture is Jesus on the cross.  While he was being jeered at and spat upon by people who hated him, he said, “Forgive them Father, for they don’t even know what they are doing.”  We were forgiven before we were made right.

However, there is a requirement before we are right with God.  Jesus didn’t say, “Father forgive them and let them continue what they are doing.”  No, that is not it at all.  What is it that we are to do?  We are to confess our sins and repent, turning away from those former actions.

Until we do that, our denial of our own wrongdoing is a barrier to the forgiveness and freedom that is waiting for us.

There is No Reconciliation without Repentance

We have seen much wrong exposed.  What we haven’t seen is confession or repentance.  Instead, we have seen denial and self-justification, and because of that, any words of semi-remorse ring hollow.

Yes, Gifford is right, there is healing waiting in God, but that won’t come before repentance.

“We’re broken, and we need someone to put us back together.” ~ Kathy Gifford

Amen.  But we have to first admit we are broken.

“I have come to call not those who think they are righteous, but those who know they are sinners and need to repent.” Luke 5:32

References   [ + ]

1. Ronan Farrow, “From Aggressive Overtures to Sexual Assault: Harvey Weinstein’s Accusers Tell Their Stories,” The New Yorker, October 10, 2017, accessed December 1, 2017, https://www.newyorker.com/news/news-desk/from-aggressive-overtures-to-sexual-assault-harvey-weinsteins-accusers-tell-their-stories.
2. Seth MacFarlane, “pic.twitter.com/z8cyxrd693,” Tweet, @SethMacFarlane, October 12, 2017, accessed December 1, 2017, https://twitter.com/SethMacFarlane/status/918193451006431232.
3, 4. “The 30 Rock Joke That Hinted at Harvey Weinstein Allegations,” The Independent, last modified October 11, 2017, accessed December 1, 2017, http://www.independent.co.uk/arts-entertainment/films/news/harvey-weinstein-sexual-assault-allegations-30-rock-reference-tina-fey-jenna-entourage-oscars-a7995091.html.
5. Jodi Kantor and Megan Twohey, “Harvey Weinstein Paid Off Sexual Harassment Accusers for Decades,” The New York Times, October 5, 2017, sec. U.S., accessed December 1, 2017, https://www.nytimes.com/2017/10/05/us/harvey-weinstein-harassment-allegations.html.
6. Fiza Pirani, “From Weinstein to Lauer: A Timeline of 2017’s Sexual Harassment Scandals,” The Atlanta Journal-Constitution, November 30, 2017, accessed December 1, 2017, http://www.ajc.com/news/world/from-weinstein-lauer-timeline-2017-sexual-harassment-scandals/qBKJmUSZRJqgOzeB9yN2JK/.
7. Amanda Luz Henning Santiago, “36 Powerful Men Accused of Sexual Misconduct after Harvey Weinstein,” Business Insider, accessed December 1, 2017, http://www.businessinsider.com/powerful-men-accused-of-sexual-misconduct-after-harvey-weinstein-list-2017-10.
8. The Associated Press, “List of Men Accused of Sexual Misconduct,” Washington’s Top News, November 29, 2017, accessed December 1, 2017, https://wtop.com/national/2017/11/list-of-men-in-media-accused-of-sexual-misconduct/.
9. “U.S. Public Becoming Less Religious,” Pew Research Center’s Religion & Public Life Project, November 3, 2015, accessed December 1, 2017, http://www.pewforum.org/2015/11/03/u-s-public-becoming-less-religious/.
10. “Matt Lauer,” Wikipedia, December 1, 2017, accessed December 1, 2017, https://en.wikipedia.org/w/index.php?title=Matt_Lauer&oldid=813073396.
11. “Kathie Lee Gifford Is ‘Grappling’ With Matt Lauer’s ‘Today’ Show Termination: ‘We’Re Broken,’” Entertainment Tonight, accessed December 1, 2017, http://www.etonline.com/kathie-lee-gifford-grappling-matt-lauers-today-show-termination-were-broken-91829.
12. Leora Arnowitz, “Kathie Lee Gifford Praying for Matt Lauer after ‘Today’ Show Firing,” Text.Article, Fox News, last modified November 29, 2017, accessed December 1, 2017, http://www.foxnews.com/entertainment/2017/11/29/kathie-lee-gifford-praying-for-matt-lauer-after-today-show-firing.html.