What rights does an employer have over whom he employs and whom he doesn’t employ? What classes should be protected from discrimination? There are many interesting questions tied up in the case of Dr. James Knight, who fired his assistant, Melissa Nelson, because he found himself tempted by her.
But my thoughts on this issue regarded the moral matters tied up with Dr. Knight’s behavior towards Nelson in the workplace, and then his decision to fire her. Thankfully, Jonathan Turley brings the moral issues into focus by being 180 degrees from correct.
Knight is described as a deeply religious man, though his communications to Nelson do not speak of religiosity or restraint in a pious man. Indeed, he comes across as pretty creepy. I always thought that religion taught the pious to resist temptation not eradicate its sources. Yet, Knight actually fired Nelson with a pastor present….
Yes, Knight behaved inappropriately, even creepy. What religion does is not to make us magically uncreepy and always appropriate, but to teach us more reasons why it’s bad when we are creepy and inappropriate. Also, my faith — Catholicism — and most of Christianity, as far as I know, teaches the opposite of what Turley has always thought it teaches.
Man is a fallen creature, born in sin. Throughout our lives, we continue to sin, whether we are Christians or not — whether we are Saints or not.
When a Catholic goes to confession, he confesses his sins, and then, after receiving absolution, resolves to “sin no more and avoid the near occasion of sin.” Often, when we do bad things, if we examine our conscience, we find that moment of greatest culpability was not when we gave into temptation, but when we entered into the circumstance where we knew there would be temptation that might overwhelm us.
Dr. Knight behaved badly. He wanted to stop behaving badly. Jonathan Turley thinks that Knight’s faith should have been sufficient to cure him of being attracted to this other woman. That’s silly. Knight, his wife, and pastor concluded that the best thing to do was to let her go. That seems prudent.
It also is completely unfair to Nelson. She is being “punished” for her boss’s sins and weaknesses. She should be angry. But would it be fair for the state government to tell Knight that he must remain in this near occasion of sin?