Sarah Silverman asks an important question.
While speaking recently on her show, “I Love You America,” comedian Sarah Silverman asked an important question amid allegations that her fellow-comedian and friend, Louis CK has sexually violated multiple women. This is, of course, just one of the many celebrities, politicians, and/or pastors being accused of sexual misconduct in a recent movement dedicated to shining light on sexual abuses by men (and sometimes women) in positions of power and authority.
As a husband, father, follower of Jesus, and someone who went to a church growing up that is now known for it’s own sexual abuse scandal and coverup by parents and pastors, I’m acutely aware of how these things can be forgotten for a time but eventually work their way to the surface. Many people, including “Christians,” want to ignore these types of accusations and personal stories as “too little too late” or merely lies perpetuated in an effort to besmirch someone’s good name. But in my experience we should be quick to listen, slow to speak, and slow to judge.
Back to the question. The one I think we should all be asking. Not just in this moment. But always. Especially if we follow Jesus. I think Jesus himself raises this question. I think he lived the answer. And I think he calls his followers to live it out as well.
“Can you love someone who did bad things?”
She cares for her friend. She also cares for his victims. The question is really this, “Can you love the victims and the violators?” “Can I love a person who does bad things without that love being misrepresented as allowance for their actions?”
October was a tough month here in Las Vegas. I found myself asking these questions and searching for answers. People are capable of committing the most violent, horrible actions. I feel for the victims. But what about my feelings for the violators?
Jesus gives us an answer and an example.
“But I say, love your enemies! Do good to those who hate you. Pray for those who persecute you! In that way, you will be acting as true children of your Father in heaven. For he gives his sunlight to both the evil and the good, and he sends rain on the just and the unjust alike.”
In the Sermon on the Mount, Jesus’ most famous and powerful teaching, we see that God loves the oppressed and the oppressor. His love is “perfect” (a word Matthew’s Gospel uses a bit later) or whole and complete. It has no judgment or limit. And Jesus encourages his listeners and followers to love in this manner. This is the kind of love that separates the truly, completely loving and those who simply love like everyone else.
We also gather from Jesus’ sermon here and teachings elsewhere that he doesn’t condone the actions of the oppressors. Jesus lived and loved on the fringes of society. He was constantly accused of loving the oppressors as well. He would heal the sick, love the poor, and sit and eat with the tax collector, the most heinous of oppressors in that culture. His love was all-encompassing. It had no holes. There was not one “kind” of person he would not and did not love. But he would call people to “repent” or change and return to relationship with God. He never condoned but he always loved.
So, look into your heart. Can you find love for the sexually abused and the sexual abuser? Is there enough space to seek justice for the oppressed while extending mercy to the oppressor? Wow…that’s tough. Seriously. These questions have weighed on my heart for a while now. It matters how we love. And how completely we love.
If I could speak with Sarah Silverman (which would be an honor, I’m a huge comedy fan), I’d assure her, not only can she love someone who did a bad thing. But she’d be hard-pressed to find anyone she loves that didn’t at some point do a bad thing. I love her heart behind this question. I think we can all learn from this question.
I know this is controversial, but we love hard discussions. It’s why we exist. So, please feel free to comment below. We ask for everyone to keep it respectful. And as always, join the discussion!