Long time, late night host and comedian, David Letterman told his audience last night that he has had sexual relations with members of his staff. CNN story.
The story needs to be made public, he said, since he had appeared earlier in the day before a Grand Jury to give testimony in an extortion case.
Letterman said that he needed to give testimony regarding “the creepy things he had done” because about three weeks ago he had received a package and a letter claiming to have information about his sexual relationships and demanding 2 million dollars to keep quiet.
Letterman said he took the information to authorities and has since admitted what he did to his staff.
I mention this here not to multiply Letterman’s embarrassment, but because a public event like this gives us an opportunity to put things in perspective.
For one, the sobering story told by someone who has given us so many laughs over the years says something about a wrong that some of us overemphasize while others minimize.
I say some of us overemphasize it because in some conservative communities, pride, covetousness, greed, envy, gluttony, racial and gender prejudice, abuse of authority, externalism etc etc. are routinely institutionalized while waving banners publicly against all manner of sexual sin. In such atmospheres political partisanship, hawkish attitudes toward war, gossip, and disregard for the poor put the name of Christ in a dim or red light while hypocritical patterns of pornography, marital abuse, and fear of exposure lurk beneath the surface.
On the other hand, what has happened to DL is a reminder that those who try to treat sexual unfaithfulness as normal and even funny, as long as you don’t get caught, are telling bold lies to themselves and one another.
Sexual unfaithfulness is not about a debatable moral theory. Neither is it an issue that can be rightly isolated from pride, self-centeredness, lust, and irreverence. These are all about relationships with one another and our God.
All of this is not just about today’s embarrassment of a well known funny man. It’s part of our story as a people who have been made for one another, and first of all for our God. It’s about the need for humility, reason, and reflection on ourselves. It’s about a moment that can help us to assess our own opinion of why the Bible makes an issue of those choices that reflect our relationship to Christ… one way or another.
Today some of us might be tempted to drag Letterman into the center of our conversation the way some religious leaders dragged an adulterous woman in front of Jesus. If so, maybe we need to read again what Jesus said to that woman. He spoke those words in the hearing of men who ended up dropping the stones in their hands… before slinking into the shadows– to either contemplate their own sin…or to try to come up with another reason to discount the Person who no one could accuse of sin… except that he seemed to be so reluctant to condemn anyone… while calling everyone to himself…