"Professing themselves to be wise, they became fools."
That phrase was written in Greek to a church in Italy by a Jewish tentmaker nearly 2,000 years ago, but perhaps it applies even more so to modern-day America.
A few days ago, YouTuber Logan Paul gave rise to massive controversy when he posted a video containing footage of a hanging dead man, which they found while filming a vlog in the Japanese suicide forest. The internet erupted in hatred and started slamming the 22-year old left and right, with politicians and celebrities alike condemning him for displaying “sociopathic qualities” and failing to “honor those who have committed suicide.” Within two days, Paul issued a public apology in which he admitted that his actions were wrong and went on to set aside “time to reflect” on his actions, yet people continue to blast him, continue to defame him, continue to tear him to shreds. Angsty internet users tell him to kill himself. A recent petition asking YouTube to terminate his account has reached over 200,000 signatures.
My question is this: Why?
Don’t get me wrong, I’m not defending Logan Paul here. Sure, I don’t necessarily think that what he did is as bad as everybody is making it out to be – it’s bad, yes, but blown way out of proportion – but the point is that, given our culture, can we really expect anything different from him? Look at the movies we are taking our children to see from young ages. Look at the violent video games we buy for them before they even reach the double digits. Go on YouTube and do a quick search for any violent act you can think of; I can almost guarantee you’ll find a video depicting it. Just a few days ago, an innocent man was shot and killed as a result of the fad going throughout the gaming world known as “swatting.” We have taught our children to have little-to-no value of human life, to treat humans as if they are nothing. Abortion, to some extent, is accepted by the general public and people think it’s fine and okay to jokingly talk about killing famous individuals they don’t care about…so why are we surprised that Logan Paul thought it was fine to upload a video of a dead man to YouTube? Once again, I’m not supporting his actions; I simply think it’s foolish that we find ourselves surprised when things like this happen.
The same is the case with the whole Harvey Weinstein thing. It seems like everyone in Hollywood and their brother is being accused of sexual misconduct nowadays, and while, once again, I bitterly oppose such heinous acts of immorality, the blame ultimately falls back on culture. Why are we surprised that people are doing this? Nearly every movie we watch has sex incorporated into it in some form or fashion, with even kids’ movies incorporating lude jokes that will go over the children’s heads yet appease the sexual appetite of their parents. Have you ever heard of the Fifty Shades of Grey series? I don't even think I need to explain that. Then, of course, there's the subject of porn. Pornography sites receive more regular traffic than Netflix, Amazon, and Twitter combined, with more than 4,599,000,000 hours of porn watched on the busiest porn site alone back in 2016. Sixty-four percent of people in my age group watch porn on a weekly basis; our movies applaud the idea of it and most people seem to almost expect and accept that their partner will watch it. Premarital sex rates have gone through the roof and is not only accepted, but encouraged, in our society.
My point is this: Sex has become idolatrous in our culture, so we shouldn’t find it shocking when we hear about Harvey Weinstein’s running around. Gone are the days when people actually had values that they held to; we live in a me-me-me culture that cares about no one but their own self, yet for some reason we feign shock when we see somebody putting that worldview into practice.
The most ironic thing about all of this is that culture has no right to attack people like Logan Paul and Harvey Weinstein, Kevin Spacey, whoever else comes to mind. They have no right. You want to know why?
Culture has no right to berate these people because we’ve been teaching subjective morality in our schools for decades now. I live in the middle of the Bible belt, but even here it’s hard to find somebody who truly believes that morality is objective fact, black and white. (I happen to be one of these “objective moraliters,” but we are few and far between.) Culture has painted morality to be this huge gray area that is subjective to each and every person, so what gives them to the right to get all up in arms whenever Logan Paul posts a video of a dead body or Harvey Weinstein sexually harasses another girl? As an evangelical Christian who sees morality as defined by God, my worldview allows me to criticize people such as this; as proponents of subjective morality, culture has no right. Essentially, they condemn every individual with a hiccup in their past as if they themselves set the standard for morality (and so everybody who does anything that they don’t like is therefore a horrible human), but this does nothing but point towards the existence of some sort of objective right and wrong.
You see, the Logan Paul incident and that many Harvey Weinstein incidents have ironically caused our idolatrous culture to back themselves into a corner. Though they condemn any idea of objective morality, they likewise seem to all agree that murder (in this case, suicide) and sexual immorality (in these cases, sexual harassment, rape, etc.) are bad. Their worldview doesn’t allow them to make this case, but nevertheless they have.
My point in all of this isn’t to convince you that the Christian worldview is correct (if you want posts that do attempt to do so, feel free to check out the rest of my site). Instead, I just want to encourage you to take a step back and take a breath before you kneejerk react to any given situation. First off, ask yourself whether or not your worldview even allows you to condemn another person for wrongdoing. Second, if you realize your worldview doesn’t allow it, ask yourself why your conscience seems to think that it should. Third, once you have dealt with all that, take a good look at society and ask yourself why you are even shocked that things like this happen.
NOW LET’S BE HONEST…we live in a broken world, and with brokenness comes immorality. This shouldn’t be shocking to anybody. Does that mean we should sit idly by while immorality continues? By no means! Instead, we should ground ourselves in what is true and stand up for what is right, opposing the darkness by daily trying to shine our light on this shattered and broken world.
Just stop seeming so shocked when stuff like this happens. A fallen people are prone to perform immoral acts, so stop getting so angry at the people and instead get angry at the sin itself. (I think that “Don’t hate the sinner, hate the sin,” is actually a very good motto to live by.) You can accuse Logan Paul and you can accuse Harvey Weinstein, but always remember, “Judge not, that you be not judged” (Mt 7:1-3) – only judge someone if you are willing for the magnifying glass to be pointed back at you. There are bad people out there, but we, as a culture, are largely responsible for their lax attitudes about the things that we do. Let us not point out the specks in our brothers’ eyes before first removing the plank in our own. There is a time for judging, yes – don’t listen to the people who tell you otherwise – but I think that our culture has a lot of course-correcting to do before we even begin to do so.
Oh, and then there's always this that need be said: