"By Their Fruits": #METOO
Recent national headlines remind us of a well-known horticultural law. And you don't even have to be an "Ag" major to know it—all you need is a fruit tree out back. Because everyone knows you can tell the health of a tree by its fruit. Sick trees produce sickly fruit. Healthy trees bear healthy fruit. And guess what—what's true of a tree is true of a human. You can tell the truth about a person by the kind of fruit that person grows. Horticulture 101. Psychology 101. Spirituality 101.
In the words of Jesus: "Every good tree bears good fruit, but a bad tree bears bad fruit. . . . Thus, by their fruit you will recognize them" (Matthew 7:17, 20).
The #MeToo movement has become a powerful social expression and tool in the hands of those seeking to expose (and even eradicate) sexual harassment and abuse—in the marketplace, in the entertainment industry, in politics, in sports, in the church, in every walk of society and life. And as men of power and of influence have been toppled by the groundswell of painful anger from their victims, the public has drawn courage from the women who have bravely stepped forward to recount their suffering. "How the mighty have fallen!" (2 Samuel 1:19)—the list of names is a veritable Who's Who in American life. "By their fruits you will know them."
Even the political corridors of Washington now echo the click-click of angry high heels stepping forward to expose the abuse they have suffered. A celebrity lawyer pleads guilty to being the conduit of payoff money to women claiming to have had an affair at one time with the lawyer's client. #MeToo is apparently no respecter of persons. "By their fruits you will know them."
And while it could be argued that there is no #MeToo connection with this heartbreaking story, the truth is the grand jury report released last week in Pennsylvania, listing 1000 child victims of 300 priests in that diocese over the past seventy years, is very much the tragic tale of #MeToo suffering at last being exposed for the awful truth it reveals. "By their fruits you will know them." Seventy years of silent suffering at the hands of spiritual leaders can only be measured and requited before Heaven's tribunal. And while some wonder the nature of a religious system that would cover-up the documented suffering of innocent children for so many years—by so many spiritual leaders—the headline at least deserves an attachment to our Lord's somber warning: "By their fruits you will know them."
Furthermore, in a stunning reverse #MeToo moment this week, one of the initial Hollywood female champions of the #MeToo movement has been accused by a young male actor of sexual harassment and coercion against his will in a hotel room years ago. Equal opportunity exposure of an equal opportunity sin. "By their fruits you will know them."
The heart of Christ still weeps, we can be sure—for untold sufferings in untold places exposing an untoward reality—sickly trees bear sick fruit.
But there is yet hope for both victims and their victimizers. The same Lord who pronounced to the accusers, "He who is without sin—let him cast the first stone," is the same Savior who promises the accused, "Neither do I condemn you—go now and leave your life of sin" (John 8:7, 11). Keep reading: "As you see the enormity of sin, as you see yourself as you really are, do not give up to despair. It was sinners that Christ came to save. We have not to reconcile God to us, but—O wondrous love!—God in Christ is 'reconciling the world unto Himself.' 2 Corinthians 5:19" (Steps to Christ 35).
Turns out the gospel truth of Jesus is the only good news left for sinners such as you and I. For only He can heal our heart of its sickness. And only He can recreate our life to flower with fresh fruit, new fruit, good fruit. And so to His offer to do just that I say we both say, "Me, too."