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A vehicle for venting on philosophy, religion, and the general state of things. Proprietor: C. W. Powell

Tuesday, March 10, 2009


Peeping Tom and Peeping Tammy

It was late at night and I was listening through the earphones to some cop show on the TV and cleaning up files on my computer when the words broke through to my consciousness and caused me to take a quick look at the tv.

"But how do I know what you really think, if I don’t get you drunk," one cop was saying to his partner."

It was like bells went off in my head, and I understood a passage of Scripture that I had not understood before.

"Woe unto him that giveth his neighbor drink, that puttest thy bottle to him, and makest drunken also, that thou mayest look on their nakedness!"

I got it. It is the sin of Ham, the second son of Noah, who mocked his father’s nakedness when he was drunk in the tent after the Flood. He despised his father, told his brothers, and got the curse of Noah upon his son Canaan, the curse that was fulfilled when Joshua exterminated the Canaanites after the Exodus.

Because of sin, man needs a cover for his nakedness--not just his physical, but his mental and psychological nakedness. The sin was the invasion of privacy and the exposure of loved ones to ridicule and shame.

Love covers sins, but hatred exposes them.

When I was in college there were incidents of peeping through the windows of the ladies dormitories and eventually the "Peeping Tom" was found out and expelled. The girls felt violated and shamed, and rightly so, for a "peeper" is a shameful human being.

It is especially shameful when family members are "peepers" and tell family secrets to shame their brothers or sisters or parents. Rev. Mike McGee, one of the RCUS ministers, effectively spoke on this subject at Heidelberg Camp last summer.

It never happened in my family when I was a kid. My sisters would tease me unmercifully sometimes over my foolishness, but never before outsiders. It was only between me and them. We called it loyalty, and it was a shameful betrayal to expose our faults even to cousins or other relatives.

I noticed something in the later years of my school teaching, however. Children and young people would very often regale their friends in school with stories about the foolish things their parents or their siblings did. I was always uncomfortable about it and thought it shameful, but I didn’t really understand why until the other night. I thought it disloyal, but it is more than that. It is a violation of the Fifth Commandment.

In a larger sense it is a violation of the commandment for us to love our neighbor as ourselves. Backbiting, tale-bearing, rumor-mongering, and such are the very work of the devil who is the accuser of the brethren and would leave us exposed and naked before our enemies.

It is especially vicious when the object of the Peeping Tom or Peeping Tammy’s hatred is a gospel minister. They strip him naked before his congregation and if successful in their campaign of hatred render him ineffectual in his work and ministry. It is even worse when ministers are guilty of it. Ministers have been expelled from their pulpits for visual pornography but have done far more damage by speaking or listening to the pornography that is even worse.


It is a sort of auditory pornography and those who practice it get a depraved thrill out of exposing their neighbors and those who listen receive a like thrill. But it is the thrill of devils. Only mean and vicious people can approve and defend it.

There are wives who shame their husbands, and husbands who shame their wives, children who shame their parents, and parents who shame their children. Those who have secret malice toward their neighbor get a sort of guilty pornographic thrill from hearing dirt about them.

It will not be stopped among the people of God until the church sees it for the wicked and shameful filth that it is, and the church courts deal with it severely in horror.

Just as visual pornography debases and corrupts a people, so does auditory pornography. Those who practice it not only strip bare the objects of their hatred, but they will also seek to strip bare anyone who reproves them or stands in the way of their depraved desires. But this is a world of darkness and secret, for peepers do not operate in the daytime but skulk the neighborhood in the dark. If caught they deny and excuse. So auditory pornographers skulk through the darkness through the streets, plying their filthy art.

Psalm 15
1. Who shall abide in thy tabernacle? who shall dwell in thy holy hill?
2. He that walketh uprightly, and worketh righteousness, and speaketh the truth in his heart.
3. He that backbiteth not with his tongue, nor doeth evil to his neighbor,nor taketh up a reproach against his neighbor.

Heidelberg Catechism:
Q112: What does the ninth Commandment require?
A112: That I bear false witness against no one, twist no one's words, be no backbiter or slanderer, join in condemning no one unheard and rashly; but that on pain of God's heavy wrath I avoid all lying and deceit as the very works of the devil; and that in matters of judgment and justice and in all other affairs I love, speak honestly and confess the truth; also, insofar as I can, defend and promote my neighbor's good name. [emphasis mine]
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