A political scandal with cultural and spiritual implications
One week ago, a prominent Congressman admitted that he posted an inappropriate photo of himself via Twitter, and that this was part of a pattern of behavior that included cyber-affairs with multiple women. I am not going to mention the individual's name because this post is not about him - it is about an overall point and an important cultural issue.
First, the minute this individual said "it could be a picture of me, or it may not be, we have not determined that yet" (paraphrasing) it was all over. No one - and I mean no one - sees a picture of himself in that context and does not know with 100% certainty that it is him.
I will never understand why these idiot politicians try to cover this stuff up. It seems like every politician who does something like this thinks he is the one person who can cover it up. It never works.
By stomping his feet and petulantly denying that he posted the photograph, the Congressman lengthened the life of the story and caused a lot more people to hear about it than would have otherwise. He created more news stories by fighting it and issuing increasingly bizarre denials. Had he admitted and apologized for his behavior the moment it happened instead of going through all this rigmarole, he would have appeared broad-shouldered, humble and legitimately sorry for what he did. Now he is a national embarrassment.
Being rebuked for your sin is a wonderful gift from God. Consider the story of King David in II Samuel chapters 11 and 12. After committing adultery with Bathsheba and murdering her husband Uriah, David is confronted by the prophet Nathan. Upon being confronted with his sin, David immediately confessed and repented, saying "I have sinned against the LORD." (Be sure to read David's powerful Psalm of confession in Psalm 51.) All politicians caught in scandal would do well to imitate King David in his confession and repentance when rebuked for his sin.
But there is a much more important issue here, and that issue is the wider cultural implications of this scandal. We have an entire generation of young people who are growing up in a culture that has been defined by over sharing. First with MySpace, then with Facebook and Twitter, people are sharing many intimate details of their lives that are best left private. And peer-to-peer communications are much darker and potentially dangerous.
From middle schools upward, "sexting" has become a common shame. Boys and girls (and women and men) are sending pictures of their private body parts to each other as a modern (and incredibly depraved) courting ritual. Pictures sent (especially by girls) often don't remain private, as boys may share those pictures with "friends" and even post them to the Internet. Those pictures are commonly used for blackmail, especially for sex acts.
This is a scary world that young people today are facing. My generation saw the rise of the Internet, which made pornography so ubiquitous that the majority of Internet traffic is consumed by porn. Now, tens of millions of amateur pornographers share explicit photos "privately" via cell phone as well as on the web. This has become so common that when the next generation looks back at this scandal they may think, "So what? Everyone does that."
It is absolutely critical that parents know what their children (especially teenagers) are doing online, which means that parents need to actively monitor and restrict Internet and cell phone usage. Even video game consoles (including handheld consoles like the Nintendo DS) have the capability to browse the web, and mobile phones (even those that are not "smartphones") offer opportunity for immorality. Parents need to teach modesty from birth, and boys especially need to be taught to respect and honor women and girls.
Modern technology and communications have been a great tool for humanity, and have helped in exposing the deeds of corrupt governments and even bring down tyrannical regimes. But with this technology comes dangers for our souls - dangers with eternal implications. If nothing else, this scandal offers an opportunity for awareness of the dangers of modern technology and why we need to be so careful in using it.