A regular article written by Phillip Jensen in his role as Dean of Sydney at St Andrew's Cathedral.
15th May 2009
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Hypocrisy is like the common cold: unwanted yet difficult to avoid.
Ours is a deeply compromised life. Our world, our society, our selves are all morally flawed. We know what is good but are unable to do it. We know what is evil but have a fatal fascination for it.
Laws, customs, shame, inhibitions and mores usually constrain our behaviour. Community connections and family relationships often restrain our anti-social activities. As we age and become more aware of the consequences of our actions, we usually act more responsibly.
But given freedom to act without detection, without bearing any responsibility for the consequences of our actions and the real person emerges. And the real person is not as moral as we like to think. For as Jesus says “out of the heart of man, come evil thoughts, sexual immorality, theft, murder, adultery, coveting, wickedness, deceit, sensuality, envy, slander, pride, foolishness. All these evil things come from within, and they defile a person.”
There used to be saying about cruise ships - you leave your morality as you pass through the Sydney Heads and pick it up again as you return. That is, until Dianne Brimble died of a drug overdose on board a cruise ship.
There used to be a saying that people can do whatever they like in the privacy of their own homes. That is, until the problem of domestic violence was brought to the notice of society.
There used to be a saying that consenting adults can do whatever they like with and to each other. That is, until the problem of the rugby league players in Christchurch was aired on the Four Corners Show.
The ethic of consent taught by the league’s ethical feminists does not understand the nature of human corruption. Under the right social pressure people will consent to all manner of harmful and damaging behaviour.
Frequent reference was made in the TV show about the damaging affect of alcohol upon the young players and the groupies. But then who are the sponsors of their code? What does their code use their football prowess to sell to the public - if it is not alcohol?
I have heard very little comment about the segment of the Four Corners programme that showed sexually aggressive young women targeting football players - their apparent lack of “self-respect” in no way excuses men taking advantage of them. But the usual mantra of “treating women with respect” gives no real guidance to young men about groupies who prey upon them.
Some of the leaders of the code are saying that group sex, even when consensual, is wrong. Good on them. But the code’s ethics lecturer is saying anything is permissible provided it is with consent. She seems to have no problem with pornography - as if that industry is going to teach young men to “respect” women!
Men need to do better than respect women, or gain consent to use them or even accept their offers to be used. Men need to be taught the meaning of genuine love and the conquest of love over lust. For love does not use the other person but seeks what is in the other person’s best interest. If we want footballers to be role models of morality, a questionable confusion of categories caused by our media celebrity hype, they need to be shown how to enjoy a real and loving relationship of marriage and family life.
The Four Corners programme rightly exposed the nature of our corruption. It removed the masks we hypocrites hide behind as actors who are only playing parts. It was a brilliantly constructed show with an almost overwhelming emotional assault on our basic humanity in the interview with the Christchurch victim.
And yet the programme did not go nearly far enough. It accepted the premise that these are young athletic risk takers rather than normal human sinners given abnormal opportunities to be sinful. It did not challenge the basic assumptions of a hedonist lifestyle. It did not challenge the whole culture of shameless decadence that is advertised and promoted by the football code in the media. It did not challenge the inadequacy of the vacuous amorality of modern society. It did not point to the inevitable corruption that flows from an amoral advertising industry controlling professional sport and the impossibility of producing “role models” from such an unholy alliance. It did not recognize its own corrupting influence on society as a whole.
Many years ago, when Norma Jean Baker (Marilyn Monroe) died, the poet Norman Rosten asked the question: “Who killed Norma Jean?” The protests of innocence came from everybody - the fan, the lover, the tourist, the agent, the press and the mad mother. The guilt of us all in helping a beautiful woman to her untimely death was bitingly exposed.
There is no point complaining about trial by media. That is what it is, with all the injustice and unfairness that goes with a media trial. The Rugby League makes great use of the media. The man at the centre of the scandal is a media star. It is because he was such a media personality - so well known and loved by the community, that his naming and shaming is so powerful. A lesser light would not have the same effect. It is a classic media beat up - but it shows that he who lives by the media dies by the media.
One man has now become the scapegoat for the whole code and all footballers and all stupid, immoral young men everywhere. There are and will be more beating of breasts, and feminist ethics classes for teenage footballers, and restrictive rules on the lives of the stars. But nothing will have changed. The society has somebody to blame and can absolve itself of any fault. How long will Australia welter in the mire of decadence in the name of individual freedom before somebody says “enough”. How deep do we have to wallow before we recognize that the damage we are doing to each other is not worth the privilege of being free to do whatever we like?
Our hypocrisy will not forever cover our shame. This cancer is not going to be cured by band-aids. This poor scapegoat cannot take away the sins of others. This whipping boy cannot atone for the sins of a whole code or community or society. His spirit will not change the lives of others.
It is time to return to the lamb of God who does take away sin - the crucified and risen Lord Jesus whose Spirit enables even young testosterone driven athletic risk takers to live differently.