Before starting this Midweek Update I stood here staring at my computer screen realizing that there was literally no way that I was going to be able to write anything that would come close to encompassing all of my thoughts, emotions, fears, and hopes about a topic we need to discuss. This week my Facebook feed has been filled with the hashtag #metoo. And I was sad. I was sad because of the volume of woman who had experienced sexual harassment or assault in their lives; sad because of the women I know who could have but didn’t post #metoo who have to live with the pain of sexual harassment or assault in their past; sad again because I knew that the volume could have been ever so much louder in my hears; and sad because I realized that if I knew those who were not posting #metoo even though they could, how many more could have but did not?
There have been many voices who have advocated for the hurting and for the understanding of the depth of the problem in our world. Where others have stood before, I don’t want to take their words and pretend that they are mine. Instead I want to put their words before all of us and stand both with the people who have said them and the words themselves. I want to highlight two people whose words I want to shout from the rooftops:
Tim Johnson is a Pastor at Hope Community Church in Minneapolis. After seeing #metoo light up his social media he wrote: “It seems to me that we must frame the issue of sexual assault on the basis of what it is at its core: an abandonment of the vocation to bear God’s image rightly in God’s world for God’s purposes. Sexual assault is an affront to human equality, dignity, and community because it involves one of God’s human creatures wrongly asserting the right to treat another of God’s human creatures as subhuman–as a non-image bearer.” For those of us who see people as those who are made in the image of God, we must respond when the image of God is treated without the honor, respect, and care it is due (no matter how broken or different from me, you, or us they may be).
Jordan Hirsch is the Women’s Ministry Coordinator at Grafted Community Church. After this same issue was highlighted last fall in the political campaigns she wrote: “Grafted seeks to be a place that helps the hurting heal, and I want all of you to hear this loud and clear given the news recently: sexual harassment and assault are sin. If you’ve experienced those things, you didn’t deserve it or ask for it. You were sinned against. You were wronged. We won’t condone sexual harassment or assault. We will fight for you, help to protect you, and walk alongside you as Christ heals you. Your value and worth are not found in your experiences, how clean your home is, whether or not you showered today, what your body looks like, how well-behaved your kids are, what kind of job you do or do not have, whether you read your Bible today, or how many pretzel sticks you ate last night. Your value and worth come from being made in the image of God and from the fact that Christ died for you. That says you’re worthy; that shows you’re valuable.”
These two have shared words that are able to express my heart better than I feel like I can right now. And so I will put their words before all of you.
The world in which we live is incredibly broken. And I find that I am unable to fix it by my own power. This issue requires that we all respond. That we all respond with the truth of the Gospel that declares that God made each person with inherent value as a bearer of His image. That we all respond with the truth of the Gospel that declared that He is continuing to create in each of us a new work out of the brokenness that is our lives. We all need to respond in the moment we see the demeaning of God’s image with love for the hurt and correction for the one hurting. We all need the love of God that is in Christ Jesus to be the healing force for this world. It is the only thing that is able to do the hard work that needs to be done.
Lastly, if you have no idea how to respond to #metoo and want to, come find me. Let’s talk about some next steps. No matter if it is because you are saddened by the pain that those two words imply or if you have been carrying the pain of never having talked to anyone about your story. I may not have all the answers we need, but I know some pretty awesome people who have always been there to help when it is needed.