I’ve been praying over how to respond to the #MeToo movement for quite a while. Being candid, I’ll tell you that I’ve put it off. Why? I’ve been so overwhelmed with so much to say, and (IMO) the fact that there are much better writers and voices to speak to what I cannot articulate regarding those women who’ve been victimized by sexually harassment and assault.
What do I have to offer?
“Several women in CMBA have spoken up about recent sexual misconduct allegations and the #MeToo movement…Men, have you written about these issues lately?…If not, how about speaking up?“
Her words cut me to the core and shook my spirit. It wasn’t guilt, but a conviction of the Holy Spirit speaking through J. Honestly, my mind went to the story of the Good Samaritan. It is in this parable, for which I used to challenge our congregation in the issue of hate, God challenged my heart. This simple, yet powerful story, showed someone attacked and left broken. Two would pass by; one would stop to engage the issue. I’ve sat back and seen myself as one of the two in the story who passed by a fractured and abused human being thinking “someone else will do something about this.”
So I thought I’d give a pastoral response to this extremely important issue.
Every woman is someone’s daughter.
Just typing that crushes my heart and brings me to immediate tears. I’m a husband. I’m dad of a daughter. I am the son of an amazing mom. And when I think of these three important women in my life, I shutter to think of any one of them hurt and/or alone in their fracture.
As stories are circulating about this, I have to remember that these women who have undergone sexual harassment and assault are someone’s daughter too. I don’t know if the abuse inflicted was from a stranger, co-worker, relative, or husband, but I do know that they have been hurting and are needing help. I think of the words of Ezekiel who spoke out about the “gaps” of vulnerability of God’s people. He simply said, “who will stand in the vulnerable broken places?”
As a man (let alone a human being), this challenges me. What men will stand for those women whose strength was stolen by an abuser? What men will speak for those women’s voices are stifled by the pain of their hearts? Who will speak against other men’s verbal and physical assault against women? Gentlemen, these are someone’s daughters. These are children of God. Someone must see her value, build up that value, and respond with showing that value.
Don’t let their cry become common.
The blessing of the amount of media at our disposal is the ability to get out a need or information quickly. The problem of the litany of communication at our finger-tips is the “commonality” that the issue can get quickly. The attention to the issue of sexual harassment and assault should break our hearts and move us to action, not desensitize us. Please, don’t allow the cry of the broken develop a calloused spirit towards them.
I had heard a story about a church in Germany during WWII who’s building was near the rail road. When the train cars carrying human beings to concentration camps passed by, the pastor would implore the congregation to “sing louder” to drown out the sound. I’m afraid that is a shaking metaphor for the lack of Christian responses today. We must not allow the activities of “church” to replace the responsibilities of being the “Church.” The same Spirit that was in Jesus is in you. And that Spirit shouldn’t “sing louder” but respond better. I look at the words of Isaiah for which Jesus read early in His ministry,
God’s Spirit is on me; he’s chosen me to preach the Message of good news to the poor, Sent me to announce pardon to prisoners and recovery of sight to the blind, To set the burdened and battered free, to announce, “This is God’s year to act!” (Luke 4:18 MSG)
As Godly men, our response should be:
- Give the message of hope to women who feel bankrupt emotionally, mentally, physically, and spiritually because of what was done to them.
- Freedom to women who’ve been held as prisoners to the fracture inflicted upon them.
- To help restore the sight of women who cannot envision a life beyond their pain. To enable them to “see” that they are NOT alone and they do NOT have to stand alone.
- To help those women who feel burdened and have been battered find healing. That their past doesn’t dictate their future.
- To be a voice to speak for those who can’t speak and say, “This is your year for healing. The best has yet to come for you.”
Discover your role.
Over 21 years of ministry I have had the opportunity (and privilege) to help walk individuals through the pain of sexual harassment and/or assault. Most of the time I was a simple confidential ear to listen. Other times, I was able to provide resource and/or connections. I don’t know what your role will be. But if anything, providing safe community is a huge first step. When people reach out in their pain, there is a responsibility and privilege for us men to reach back to position them for healing.
This brings me back to story of the Good Samaritan. This unnamed man just made himself available and invested in someone’s fracture. When he did what he could do, and he made sure he connected the hurting individual to someone else who could help. It tells me, first, that you don’t have to solve, nor are you able to solve, everything on your own and, second, other people will have skills and resource beyond what you have. Your prayers, availability, investment, advocacy, and obedience to the Holy Spirit can part of their healing. Just don’t be overwhelmed with what you “can’t do.” Just be faithful with what you can do.
And it all starts with the refusal to “walk by” the broken but seeing them how Jesus sees them. When we do, our lives will cease to be “business as usual.” Our lives will become missional.
Thanks for giving this a read. And I pray, especially for those men reading this, that you’ll decide in your heart to lend an ear to what the Holy Spirit would challenge you to do. Everybody can’t do everything, but everybody can do something.
In the words of a favorite chorus of mine,
Lord, “break our hearts for what breaks yours.”
Thanks for letting me ramble…