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A Wicked Heart? Without God, #metoo

November 17, 2017 by Scott Lisea

“The heart is deceitful above all things, and desperately wicked: who can know it?”  Jeremiah 17:9 (KJV)

Is there a more offensive message to the human ego than this blunt revelation that we are deceitful and wicked? Not just ordinarily wicked—we are desperately wicked. 

People fall into two camps: those who resist this message as offensive and archaic, and those who have come to the end of themselves, have seen their own hearts, and have come to the hard conclusion that, left on their own, this message of human wickedness is true. 

I have been in both camps, and I know the conversion moment well. I wanted to believe that we are inherently good people. It was only in facing the bad news about our true condition that freedom came. That moment was a death and then a resurrection.

The current milieu of molestation allegations present us with an interesting opportunity to reflect on the human heart, and what makes it good, and what can lead it to such disaster.

In recent days and weeks, we’ve heard allegations against many of the Hollywood elite—including Harvey Weinstein, Jason Toback, Dustin Hoffman, Kevin Spacey, and an ever-growing list of other Hollywood A-listers; senate candidate Roy Moore; and various state legislators around the country. A #metoo victim movement has gone viral.

Is anyone really surprised that Hollywood celebrity or political position has bred this kind of conduct? Lord Acton once accurately noted, “Power tends to corrupt, and absolute power corrupts absolutely. Great men are almost always bad men.” This pessimism about power and morality is exacerbated by the flagrant amoral agenda promoted within the entertainment industry and the mirage of impunity that cloaks too many politicians.

Abuse, harassment, and molestation are all terrible. Deplorable. Sick. And now, as the light is turned on, what is uncovered will get worse before it gets better. I suspect the abuse is more widespread than we know. I have hope that public shame will serve as a deterrent to some of this behavior in the future, but I am not so naive as to think any amount of publicity or legislation will change the root of the issue, which is this deceitful and wicked heart of ours.

The reality is right and wrong exists, and it is not determined by the majority, nor by individuals. Truth comes to us from outside ourselves, from a higher authority, from the moral law given to us by our Creator. We have a conscience that is meant to move in concert with that law unto our own thriving. It is the quintessential paradox: obedience leads to freedom.

When we brazenly abandon this moral law, we should not be surprised at the outcome. Our wickedness comes in a matter of degrees. So, while I, either from fear, consequences, discipline, character, or faith, do not live my life in reckless harassment like Harvey Weinstein nor choose to do harm to children like Kevin Spacey, the truth about all of us is #metoo. Me too—not that all are victims, but all are guilty—nobody escapes the reality of the human heart’s inherent brokenness.

I have a heart that is prone to self-delusion and self-righteous autonomy. You do, too. Some of us cover it up better than others, and many of us have never faced the temptations that come with holding positions of power and the accompanying self-delusion of immunity.

Are you offended? Are you neither a Christian nor a Weinstein, and so wondering if I have set up a straw man? I invite you to pray with David, “Search my heart, O God. Try me and know my ways. See if there is any wicked way in me, and lead me in the everlasting way.”

While the news is rife with bad news of men behaving badly, I know and believe that men can become good, and that good men are good news for women and children, and for the poor and the oppressed. These men get their sense of right and wrong from the God who made them, and recognize they were made to be forces of good in this broken world.

This is why I work with young people. I want to help set them on a trajectory toward connection with God that leads to transformation of character. The other day in our Providence junior Bible class, as were talking about God’s good news invitation to transformation, one of the young men commented, “This is really good news. Somebody needs to tell children this.” I smiled, and thought, “Yes, someone does.”

Everything within me wants to end this blog entry here, but in terror and humility I have to admit that people who claim God’s blessing and connection have abused women and children, too. I don’t understand it. Caring for the wellbeing of young people and respecting women is a sacred trust, and for a man to use the power or influence of his position to abuse another person is truly the foulest thing I can imagine. I don’t understand that, but I do understand that our hearts are wicked and deceived, and that power often has the effect of pouring fuel on that fire. 

I remain deeply interested in setting young people, young men in particular, on a trajectory that leads them to humble, desperate dependency on God who alone can give them eyes to see everyone in the image of God, and who can give them hearts of love and compassion. I remain deeply interested in teaching them how to use their God-given masculinity to guard their hearts and fight for those who cannot defend themselves. 

God help us. Help us to reject anything that would lead to our demise and to inflict desperate wickedness on others. Lead us to become good men, good husbands and fathers and grandfathers, shaping our hearts more and more to reflect the image of Christ.