“You’re sexy.” What I had mistaken as a friendly opportunity to share the gospel was quickly turning scary. “Can I have your number?” I gripped the hands of the small children I was attempting to gather for a kid’s club in a city housing development and tried to nonchalantly look around for one of my co-leaders. “Can I give you a hug?” The strung-out young man suddenly seemed enormous as I wondered how to get back past the building that blocked my youth group from sight. I backpedaled quickly and he didn’t follow. The little pigtails beside me piped up as we headed for the group, “He creeps me out!” I didn’t argue.
Could this be my #metoo moment?
I hesitated to begin with this personal experience because I feared it might trivialize the situations of women who have been severely raped or sexually abused. But I also know I am not alone in experiencing this type of situation.
From what I can tell, situations of rape by a complete stranger are rare. More often sexual abuse is perpetrated by family members, kids experimenting sexually with each other, or inappropriate behavior from a leader. Don’t be fooled; this is happening in our Anabaptist circles. Does this mean we need to join the #metoo movement?
A lot of us know only bits and pieces of what the #metoo movement is and where it began. Although it went viral in October 2017, in connection with the Harvey Weinstein scandal, the term was officially coined in relation to sexual abuse in 2006.
Tarana Burke started the movement “to support survivors of sexual violence, in particular black and brown girls…It has grown since then to include supporting grown people, women, and men, and other survivors, as well as helping people to understand what community action looks like in the fight to end sexual violence.”
Termed the “#metoo era,” our culture benefits from the light being shed on sexual sin that has triumphed in the dark for too long. The sentencing of Olympic sports physician, Larry Nassar, at the beginning of this year is just one example of the truth being revealed and a repeat sexual offender finally being held accountable for his actions.
Before joining the #metoo movement, however, we need to look at all the underlying beliefs that the movement encapsulates. And this is where I believe the Christian’s response needs to differ from “#metoo.”
The recent, highly political case of Christine Blasey Ford and Judge Brett Kavanaugh shaped many questions in my mind. “How much evidence is needed to convict someone of sexual abuse?” “How long should a person be held accountable for a crime?”
Despite the questions, as Christians we can not afford to refrain from calling sin, sin. Al Mohler, in his briefing on the Kavanaugh hearing, very clearly states that if a sin was committed we cannot use phrases such as “boys will be boys.” Drunkenness and sexual assault, no matter who does it and no matter when, is sin. And let’s use the terms that Scripture does: “Therefore put to death your members which are on the earth: fornication, uncleanness, passion, evil desire, and covetousness, which is idolatry.” God doesn’t mince words when talking about the sexual sin we all need to deny our flesh.
Our culture has redefined sexuality to the point that even the #metoo movement is having trouble defining sexual harassment versus acceptable behavior. When we blur the lines and refuse to call all sexual relations outside of marriage sin, sex becomes very confusing. When our culture tells us “if it feels good, do it,” how can we judge someone for fulfilling their sexual desires?
Another underlying belief makes me reticent to join #metoo – the confusion over the roles of men and women. Our culture has battled hard to deny the existence and importance of specific gender. This leaves no place for an understanding of God’s design between men and women.
John Piper argues strongly that Scripture is specific in speaking to men and women for a reason. He makes a case that men, “by virtue of their created, God-given maleness, apart from any practical competencies that they have or don’t have – men have special responsibilities to care for and protect and honor women. This call is different from the care and protection and honor that women owe men.”
#Metoo seems to fit the feminist agenda perfectly, finding another reason to remove men from “power” and touting cases of abuse as the result of inequality. I’m not saying men with power haven’t abused it; they have. But not all men. By throwing away distinct roles, both men and women lose the ability to treat each other with the distinct respect and care God designed in the genders.
The biggest area of concern we, as Christians, should have with #metoo is its inability to achieve its goal. #Metoo wants to give women a voice; Whitney Woolard, writing for 9Marks, says that survivors “need more than a voice. They need hope, healing, and restoration. In other words, they need the church.” Though Burke’s original movement contains support and “healing circles” for survivors, the only true healing for sexual abuse victims is the gospel of Jesus Christ. That’s also the only place of hope for perpetrators.
Acknowledging that not all churches have or can support survivors well, Woolard lists the help a healthy church can offer. The church shares the good news that the blood of Jesus makes us clean from all sin – including sin committed against us. The church serves a God who is outraged over sin and who defends the vulnerable. The church commits to care for its members, and the church insists that all people are created in the image of God and worthy of respect.
#Metoo may not have the answers, but we can commit to hearing the questions our culture is raising, knowing where to find the answer. We must call out sin, knowing we are all guilty before a merciful God. We must embrace the goodness of masculinity and femininity, exalting the image of God in our differences. And we must hold out the gospel of Jesus as the only hope for both victims and abusers.
|Sadie Beery has recently been transplanted to Elnora, Indiana where she lives with her husband, Aaron, and interacts with the Elnora Bible Institute where he works. She loves poetry, good coffee, and Skype calls. Currently she works at a little thrift store, turning one man’s trash into another man’s treasure. She is excited about the adventure of life God is leading her on and longs know him better and do all things with excellence for His glory. Her dream is to one day publish a book, but right now she just tries to find time to clean the house.|
. Snyder, Chris, and Linette Lopez. “Tarana Burke on Why She Created the #MeToo Movement – and Where It’s Headed.” Business Insider, Business Insider, 13 Dec. 2017. 4 Nov. 2018
. Levenson, Eric. “Larry Nassar Sentenced to up to 175 Years in Prison for Decades of Sexual Abuse.” CNN, Cable News Network, 25 Jan. 2018. 6 Nov. 2018.
. Mohler, Albert. “How should Christians think about sexual assault allegations and the moral consequences of those allegations?” Audio blog post. The Briefing. R. Albert Mohler, Jr, 18 Sept. 2018. 2 Dec. 2018. Mohler also strongly says that Christians need to be people of the truth. We must be concerned with what actually happened in any case or accusation of sexual abuse. I appreciated his straightforward and balanced approach and would recommend listening to his briefings on the Kavanaugh hearing and the #metoo movement.
. Colossians 3:5, NKJV
. Bonos, Lisa. “’It’s Tough for Me to Know Where the Line Is’: The #MeToo Era Is Making Dating More Confusing.” The Washington Post, WP Company, 12 Feb. 2018. 6 Nov. 2018
. Piper, John. “Sex-Abuse Allegations and the Egalitarian Myth.” Desiring God, Desiring God, 28 Nov. 2018. 1 Dec. 2018.
. Woolard, Whitney. “What the Church Can and Should Bring to the #MeToo Movement.” 9Marks, 9Marks, 17 Apr. 2018. 1 Dec. 2018.