Harvey Weinstein and the New Puritanism

I feel Harvey Weinstein’s pain. He was brought up in the Playboy culture and now Hugh Hefner is dead.

He’s befuddled. He was told the girls were all good time girls and that all he had to do as a powerful guy was appear in his bathrobe and they would jump in the tub with him for a fun time.

Suddenly women are appearing who are shocked. Yes shocked that such things should be going on!

Now the girls are getting all indignant and saying they don’t like that sort of stuff and poor Harvey’s lost his job and is crying about it like a big baby and saying, “Please let me have my job. I promise I’ll go to therapy!”

Furthermore, if Harvey Weinstein can come crashing down, the lawyers must be rubbing their hands with glee. The girls who have been preyed on must be checking their notes, and the other aging playboys must be trembling lest their pubic adventures become public.

This whole pathetic episode is really quite remarkable. What we are seeing in the popular culture is the rise of a kind of Puritanism we thought was long gone. The sexuality police will be out in full force to get every guy who lets his randy impulses get the better of him. The lawsuits will fly and the suits will scurry once they whiff that there’s money to be had in suing the playboys for their misdeeds.

I know the sexual libertarians will say, “This is not about sex. Its about power.” Harvey and Bill Clinton and Donald Trump and a host of other big guys use their power over women to get what they want.

This is true enough, but whether we like it or not, sex always has a dimension of power, and if women think it is only men who exert power they should look in the mirror again. As a pastor I deal with marriage breakdown and I can tell you that women can be just as manipulative, scheming and nasty as men when it comes to the sex-power game. They just use different tools.

The sexual libertarians will say, “This is not Puritanism. The Puritans were against sex because they thought it was dirty and bad.”

Well maybe some thought that, but not really.

Christian sexual morality is more subtle than that. I can’t speak for the Puritans, but I can explain that Catholic sexual morality is based on the innate dignity of each human being and the mutual respect that is required for true love to prosper. In other words, we’re talking about power when we talk about sex.

For Catholics the sexual act is an act of mutual self giving. The man and the woman are both created in God’s image and their complementarity is a beautiful recognition of equal respect and honor. There is no power struggle in this idea of human love. Instead each one lays down their claim to power in loving service to the other.

Christians condemn sexual predators–whether they are a Hollywood mogul, a president of the USA, a pedophile priest or a twenty something female High School teacher who beds down with fifteen year old boys. We do so not because we think sex is dirty and bad, but because such things are a violation of human dignity. Predatory behavior is what wolves do.

This is why we support marriage–because it is only within traditional marriage between one man and one woman for life that human sexuality can reach its fulfillment and purpose–and attaining that is the work of a lifetime. That’s why marriage is for life. Any sexual activity outside of marriage will always have an element of  predatory and selfish behavior to it.

The sexual revolutionary will argue, “But what if it is consensual between two adults? What we’re doing is just a bit of fun. It doesn’t mean anything.”

But the fact is–you’re human beings not animals. You are rational creatures with a mind that can discover meaning and a heart created to love and a soul created for eternity. Therefore the sexual act does mean something, and your reduction of the sexual act to a physical instinct like an itch or a hunger is in itself a predatory act because you are intentionally reducing your beautiful humanity (and that of your partner) to the behavior of beasts.

Therefore the present pain of the Playboys should be treated not with therapy, but with the treatment our grandmothers used to prescribe when they said about a confused young man, “What he needs is a good woman to marry and settle down.”

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2017-10-10T11:31:24+00:00 October 10th, 2017|Categories: Blog|Tags: |4 Comments

4 Comments

  1. Linda Putman October 11, 2017 at 9:19 pm

    Father, why do nonCatholic Christians not consider marriage to be a Sacrament? Yes, I know the “it’s not in the Bible” rationale, but is that a bona fide reason, or an excuse that was necessitated by some other driving force?

    L.

    • Dwight Longenecker October 12, 2017 at 12:16 am

      I think the problem is not “Why don’t protestants regard marriage as a sacrament” but why don’t protestants regard sacraments as sacraments. They have been reductionist and got rid of sacraments completely and have a very low symbolic understanding of baptism and eucharist. They don’t believe God pours his grace through the physical realm. And that is the big problem.

  2. Linda Putman October 12, 2017 at 12:55 am

    But didn’t Luther have at least a quasi-sacramental perception of “the Lord’s Supper” and Baptism? I’m not sure how to put my thought into words (oh, how odd) but I often wonder if Luther wasn’t looking for an excuse to foist Matrimony, Holy Orders and Reconciliation in the same way that he looked for a means to get 2 Maccabees out of the Bible. It’s almost as if the remaining sacraments were collateral damage just as were the other 6 books of the Bible that went the way of 2 Maccabees.

    Or not.

    • Dwight Longenecker October 12, 2017 at 1:08 am

      Luther had a higher view, but when I think Protestant I hearken back more to my Baptis-fundamentalist days and their very low view of the sacraments.

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