Biblical Lessons From the Harvey Weinstein Scandal
Harvey and Bob Weinstein launched Miramax and The Weinstein Company. They have received 303 Oscar nominations and won seventy-five Academy Awards. At the 2012 Golden Globes, Meryl Streep referred to Harvey Weinstein as “god.”
Yesterday, the famed actress called alleged sexual harassment by Harvey Weinstein “disgraceful,” “inexcusable,” and an “abuse of power.” Glenn Close, Judi Dench, and other actresses have also condemned his behavior.
This after The New York Times released an investigation last Thursday chronicling accusations that the famous movie producer had sexually harassed employees and actresses over three decades. He reached at least eight settlements with women. The Weinstein Company’s board has now fired him.
Yesterday, news broke that his name will be removed from the company’s television series on which he served as an executive producer. The company is reportedly seeking a new name for itself.
Commenting on the Weinstein scandal, actress Lena Dunham writes in The New York Times that “ignoring bad behavior remains the signature move of men in Hollywood.” Why did none of the men who worked with Weinstein expose his horrific pattern of abusing women?
National Review writer David French identifies the problem as ambition. Weinstein offered a pathway to acting fame and even to Academy Award recognition. When men learned that he was abusing women, they had a choice: they could risk their careers by telling what they knew, or they could hide behind the façade that they were doing nothing wrong themselves.
There’s a theological lesson to be learned here.
Scripture warns: “Whoever knows the right thing to do and fails to do it, for him it is sin” (James 4:17). Solomon noted: “Like a muddied spring or a polluted fountain is a righteous man who gives way before the wicked” (Proverbs 25:26). God holds us responsible not only for doing good but also for stopping evil.
When evil afflicts those who cannot defend themselves, our courageous intervention is especially essential. Jesus commanded us to care for “the poor, the crippled, the lame, the blind” (Luke 14:13). We are obligated to serve “orphans and widows in their affliction” (James 1:27).
I don’t expect ever to meet Harvey Weinstein or the actresses he reportedly abused. But in a nation where one in five women has been raped and one in three has been a victim of physical violence, in a society where child abuse is reported every ten seconds, I won’t have to go far to find someone who needs my help. Nor will you.
Martin Luther King Jr said: “The first question which the priest and the Levite asked was: ‘If I stop to help this man, what will happen to me?’ But the good Samaritan reversed the question: ‘If I do not stop to help this man, what will happen to him?'”
When you meet someone in need today, which question will you ask?