The story has been so much in the news; it seems unlikely readers wouldn’t know what happened. But for those who don’t, or need a reminder, I have given some background with links below. For my purposes, I just want to lay out a few thoughts about why I spend any time thinking about what happened to Bill O’Reilly, about the accusations of sexual harassment against him.
It isn’t just Bill O’Reilly
Because of the work I do at Where Grace Abounds, I spend a good bit of time thinking about many persons who may or may not be guilty of sexual misbehavior. I care about what has happened to victims and the consequences they are enduring. Also, I care about the accused. Whether rightfully or wrongly accused, they matter. And I care about what happens to them all from this point forward.
Why do I care? I ask myself that more often than I like to think. The explanation isn’t complicated: I believe I care about them because God does. The caring is a result of having prayed often that I would see what God sees, feel what He feels, and then do what He does (John 5:19). God sees the misery; He weeps over every violation of His good law; God works through people, His people, to bring good news to the captive, the broken-hearted, the poor.
Our Words Matter
Many words are flying about: across social media channels, news outlets, from the bully pulpits of our faith communities, media professionals, and politicians trying to get re-elected, and from obscure little blog articles like mine. Many, many words. Words of accusation, condemnation, ridicule, contempt—and there are also words of protection, comfort, respect, support, forgiveness. I ask myself, “Which of these words are coming out of my mouth, and onto the written forums I use?”
Words have consequences. For better or worse, vocally expressed thoughts and feelings have power—power to destroy, power to build up. And we can choose what we say; we choose when and how we say it. In so doing, we are part of the solution or part of the problem; we gather with the Lord or scatter against Him (Matthew 12:30). I am exhorting myself and my brothers and sisters in Christ to choose the former, to be part of the solution, the reconciliation ministry (2 Corin 5:18) that Jesus gave us—let’s put it in action. Let’s really live it!
Words of accusation trigger a chain of events that can bring a guilty party to account for their sin; words of truth in love can bring a guilty one to Christ as well. Words of accusation also ignite a firestorm that can ruin an innocent person’s reputation, career, family relationships; words of comfort and encouragement and peace can bring an unjustly accused person to Christ as well.
What to do about accusations
On behalf of a world that needs good news and soothing balm, I am going to leave the accusations to the evil one, (the Accuser is one of his names.) I am going to resist the enemy and watch him flee. I am going to call for the best of Jesus in me to be evermore prominent in all my relationships, all my words spoken or written. Won’t you join me?
Bill O’Reilly, the famous host of the “O’Reilly Factor, the No Spin Zone”, was terminated from his job last week. “O’Reilly fell victim to accusations” by several women who had said that he had “sexually harassed them,” several of whom received settlements from Fox and O’Reilly.
The New York Times did a major story on the history of the allegations, and a hue and cry followed from social media. Advertisers then pulled their commercials from his show which seemed to catapult the negative publicity beyond Fox News’ willingness to back him. O’Reilly has denied all allegations, and has said that the settlements he made with women who had made “unfounded” claims against him were in the interest of family privacy and to avoid embarrassing publicity. O’Reilly’s supporters say, “I think the man has a lot of money.” “It’s easy to target anyone who has a lot of money.” “A lot of things are taken as sexual harassment that aren’t ever meant that way.”
O’Reilly promised viewers he will provide more information about the allegations – and his future – when he is able.”