In the wake of the flood of #MeToo stories of women being abused by men have come a second flood of stories of men being abused by men, with the current trend being stories about Kevin Spacey.
In college, I worked at a bookstore cafe near a gay bar in San Jose. I was fairly naive and didn’t realize what the content was of the books and magazines I sold to them. But I was aware of the flirting which they did mostly innocently. But I did have a man aggressively and persistently pursue me, which rattled me even though I was firm in my rejection. It made me realize that even successful rejection doesn’t negate the aggressive behavior of abusers.
But what strikes me is how out of control these men are, particularly Spacey. In the stories about Spacey, he appears to be in control of the situations, using his celebrity and economic power over young men who desperately need their jobs if they’re to make it in Hollywood. But it’s really Spacey and the rest of the abusers who are desperate and out of control.
Good sex requires self-control. It requires waiting until the time is right. It requires strong boundaries, restricting itself to its spouse and no other. It requires patience for its partner. It requires restraint, keeping the bedroom from spilling out into the rest of life. It requires the ability to say NO to yourself.
And as I read this new batch of stories about Spacey, I am struck by his inability to keep his sexual urges retrained. He doesn’t control them. They control him.
At some point in his life, Spacey gave up. He stopped trying to trying to tame this amazingly powerful and potentially beautiful part of himself. It’s as if he were given the gift of a sleek and mighty horse. But instead of taming and training it so he can ride it with enthusiasm and joy, it runs wild, always threatening to buck him off. Both kinds of rides are exhilarating, but one is sustainable and the other is deadly. And it’s apparent that it’s going to crush him.
It reminds me of Psalm 19:13 —
Keep your servant also from willful sins;
may they not rule over me.
Then I will be blameless,
innocent of great transgression.
Spacey and his ilk are ruled over by their willful sins. Because of that, they are just about as far from blameless as possible. Blame after blame have piled up on them. Great transgression has painted them with guilt, defacing their gilded reputations.
That is the nature of sin. When we give into it, especially when we willfully give in to it, it takes over.
Psalm 19 is a celebration of the gift of God’s Word. It is a delight. It is more precious than gold and sweeter than honey, because it gives shape and substance to lives which are threatened by the possibility of spinning out of control. By establishing wise boundaries, what it good and powerful (e.g. sex) can enhance our lives and not destroy us.
Our passions are like a river. When it spills over its banks, it ruins and kills. When it rushes down its bounded course, it can alternate between thrilling whitewater rides and peaceful meandering floats.
God in his wisdom and kindness has given us laws and precepts, commands and statutes so we may live the best kind of life possible — the life he created us to live in the first place. May we bend our wills to this beautiful life instead of giving ourselves over to our urges in willful sins which will lead to out-of-control lives of self-destruction.