Fox News, Bill O’Reilly, the Church, Dressing Modestly, and the Culture of Sexual Harassment (The Torch Leadership Foundation’s Cross in Culture #25)
Welcome to the Torch Leadership Foundation’s Cross in Culture Podcast where we consider different perspectives on what is happening in our culture and apply a biblical worldview. I am your host, Daniel Whyte III. This is episode #25.
This episode is titled, Fox News, Bill O’Reilly, the Church, Dressing Modestly, and the Culture of Sexual Harassment.
Over the past nine months, it would seem as though judgment day has come over at Fox News, the most-watched cable news network in America. Numerous women, some of them longtime contributors such as Gretchen Carlson and Megyn Kelly, alleged sexual harassment against the network’s founder and longtime head, Roger Ailes. He resigned in July 2016 after 20 years leading the network. His stepping down was followed this past week by the stunning ouster of Bill O’Reilly who has been with the network since its inception, with fifteen of those years being spent, unchallenged, at the top of primetime cable news ratings. He had been hit with similar allegations of sexual harassment by female co-workers, which prompted the network to pay out $13 million in settlements. In total, Fox News has paid $38 million to women who have worked at the network, which, according to one employee, “operates like a sex-fueled, Playboy Mansion-like cult, steeped in intimidation, indecency and misogyny.”
The downfall of Roger Ailes and Bill O’Reilly is just one facet of the growing public dissatisfaction regarding the way women are often treated by their male superiors in the workplace and the so-called “rape culture” on college campuses (even some Christian campuses such as Baylor University), in the military, in general in society, and, yes, even in the church. According to Christian Post, a quarter of Christian women who work in a ministry setting admit that they have experienced sexual harassment, including “demeaning comments, suggestive jokes, glances with sexual overtones, and unwanted touching or sexual contact.” and requests for sexual favors. (This does not count women who simply attend, but do not work, in a church or ministry.) Research conducted by the United Methodist Church found that “half of laywomen” reported experiencing sexual harassment in the church.
In order to keep their jobs or to keep from being shut out from leadership circles, women often feel as though they cannot speak up against this activity. The Christian Post report notes that ‘50 percent of women said they tried to avoid the perpetrator, 45 percent ignored it, 38 percent shrugged it off, and 31 percent prayed.’ Only one percent took legal action. What’s worse is that men, even Christian men, perpetrate the notion that ‘this is just the way it is’ and/or that ‘this is just the way men are.’ This outlook only serves to give men an excuse for unseemly behavior towards women while continuing to put women in the position of appearing as willing participants in order to not rock the boat or upset the powerful male leader(s).
The church must reject the mindset of the world regarding this issue. How can we begin to course-correct?
First, pastors, fathers, and older male and female leaders in the church must instill in young men that, just because they have sexual desires for women, that does not give them license to behave in an inappropriate way toward women in the church, in the classroom, or in the corporate world. Christian men must hold themselves to a higher standard than the world.
Second, pastors, fathers, mothers, and older female leaders in the church must inform young women that, yes, the culture often looks the other way when men make inappropriate sexual remarks or sexual advances toward women. The world says, “Boys (including grown-up boys) will be boys.” But just because this is the way things are does not mean that this is the way things should be. No woman should feel like she has to quietly go along with behavior or language that is sexually suggestive, inappropriate, or demeaning, just to keep a job, keep from being shamed, or climb the corporate ladder.
Third, all women need to be informed that they have an obligation to speak up when they are subjected to inappropriate remarks or behavior from men in leadership, whether it is coming from a pastor, ministry director, or boss. Things will not get better unless women begin refusing to abide by the culture of harassment. Will some women lose their jobs or be demoted in retaliation? Absolutely. Will some women get the cold shoulder from pastors and others in the church who feel like they should have just kept their mouths shut in order to avoid tarnishing the pastor’s reputation? Yes. But a little suffering now will go a long way toward making the world safer for future generations of women.
These things must be spoken about by pastors at their sacred desks, by mothers and fathers in the home, and by older men and women in the public square. That is the only way we can begin to change the church and the culture for the better.
In closing let me give young single ladies some advice. According to the Scriptures you have a responsibility to dress modestly. If you do not want the lustful attention of men, do not draw attention to yourself by dressing immodestly. One of the problems at Fox News is that women do not dress modestly and this is going to attract the attention of redblooded men. That does not justify them making innappropiate remarks, but it does draw their attention by what you’re showing such as cleavage and thighs. The Bible says in 1 Timothy 2:9-10, “In like manner also, that women adorn themselves in modest apparel, with shamefacedness and sobriety; not with broided hair, or gold, or pearls, or costly array; But (which becometh women professing godliness) with good works.”
Also if you’re a single woman and a single man asks you for a date, that is not sexual harassment, so don’t waste your time running down to the courthouse to sue.
In closing, let me leave you with a Scripture and a quote to think about.
In First Timothy 5:2 Paul writes, “Treat the elder women as mothers; the younger as sisters, with all purity.”
And Genesis 1:27 reminds us that women, too, are image-bearers of God and ought to be treated as such: “God created man in his own image, in the image of God created he him; male and female created he them.”
The Christian Reformed Church of North America published the anonymous testimony of a woman who experienced sexual harassment in the church. She concluded her article by saying, “To churches and ministries, I would say don’t wait for assault or sexual propositions before you take action. Follow up if you hear about or witness even one inappropriate comment or touch. Know that women might be afraid to report it even if you ask them directly, especially if they have family depending on their income. You may have to be very thorough and offer total anonymity to uncover what is quite possibly a whole pattern of inappropriate behavior. Finally, remember that our Christian witness is damaged more when we protect those who abuse power than when we deal with those people quickly, honestly, and justly.”
In light of what we have discussed today, I want to remind you that in our ever-changing world, there is one Person who never changes. That person is Jesus Christ. The Bible says that He is “the same yesterday, today, and forever.” He is not subject to the whims of society or popular opinion. He has an unchanging, eternal love for you. If you do not know Him as your Savior, I encourage you to get to know Him today. John 3:16 says, “For God so loved the world, that he gave his only begotten Son, that whosoever believeth in him should not perish, but have everlasting life.” Just believe in your heart that Jesus Christ died for your sins, was buried, and rose from the dead by the power of God for you so that you can live eternally with Him. Pray and ask Him to come into your heart today, and He will. Romans 10:13 says, “For whosoever shall call upon the name of the Lord shall be saved.”
Thank you for listening to this Torch Leadership Cross in Culture Podcast.
Visit us online at www.torchleadershipfoundation.com
Until we meet again, remember to keep Christ first in our ever-changing culture.
Daniel Whyte III has spoken in meetings across the United States and in over twenty-five foreign countries. He is the author of over forty books including the Essence Magazine, Dallas Morning News, and Amazon.com national bestseller, Letters to Young Black Men. He is also the president of Gospel Light Society International, a worldwide evangelistic ministry that reaches thousands with the Gospel each week, as well as president of Torch Ministries International, a Christian literature ministry.
He is heard by thousands each week on his radio broadcasts/podcasts, which include: The Prayer Motivator Devotional, The Prayer Motivator Minute, as well as Gospel Light Minute X, the Gospel Light Minute, the Sunday Evening Evangelistic Message, the Prophet Daniel’s Report, the Second Coming Watch Update and the Soul-Winning Motivator, among others.
He holds a Bachelor’s Degree in Theology from Bethany Divinity College, a Bachelor’s degree in Religion from Texas Wesleyan University, a Master’s degree in Religion, a Master of Divinity degree, and a Master of Theology degree from Liberty University’s Rawlings School of Divinity (formerly Liberty Baptist Theological Seminary). He is currently a candidate for the Doctor of Ministry degree.
He has been married to the former Meriqua Althea Dixon, of Christiana, Jamaica since 1987. God has blessed their union with seven children.