Consent in a Culture of Confusion (Podcast)

Consent in a Culture of Confusion Podcast by John Stonestreet for Break Point

Chuck Colson used to say that to judge the truth of a worldview, you just follow it to its logical conclusion. And as Apple TV’s “The Morning Show” accurately depicts, confusion is the logical conclusion of the secular demands for sexual freedom.

“The Morning Show” is about a shake-up at a fictitious morning newscast after its male anchor is fired for sexual misconduct. If you hear faint echoes of the Matt Lauer and Fox News scandals, yes, this show is an example of art imitating life.

Given the all-star lineup of actors, it’s not surprising how well-acted the show is. What is surprising is how relatively nuanced it is, especially for a Me-Too show coming out of Hollywood right now. “The Morning Show’s” lead anchor, played by Steve Carell, is unambiguously wrong, but he might not be the only one.

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The show, like the culture it is vividly portraying, raises more questions than it answers. Can a boss and a subordinate engage in any appropriate romantic relationship? Is flirting always wrong? Does a workplace culture with lewd jokes and accepted promiscuity bear responsibility for victims? If a man cannot use his power to advance his career, can a woman use her body?

Lines are drawn and redrawn all over the place, and it’s all deeply confusing. Our best attempt at a way forward is the new, elevated notion of “consent.” But what, exactly, is consent? How is it given? What if it’s given and then regretted?

I realize how delicate this is, and I’m grateful to have worked in places that have not had to deal with workplace sexual harassment or sexism. I am even more grateful that, as a husband, my wife communicates so well and works so hard to understand me. The problem is that culture-wide, we can’t seem to decide what consent is.

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