Some painful memories are resurfacing this week as I once again attempt to close the book on a very difficult story when I was a little girl. It’s been beautifully excruciating, if that makes any sense.
But smack dab in the middle of this God-ordained journey came a man’s lewd comments that left me spinning. And angry.
More than that, though: I had little or no expectation for this man. The audio tape revealed nothing new to me. His words were horrifyingly expected. What deeply troubled me was the response from some men within the Christian “camp.” Men with names like James, Jerry, and Pat.
As a sexual abuse victim, I feel abandoned by men like these. Men who reduce me to someone who is to be grabbed, cajoled, leered at, disposed of–then maligned as alarmist or crazy or shrill or bitter once I find my voice. By dignifying one man’s “locker room talk” as “normative,” they have abandoned Jesus. And me. And all this leaves me wondering how many people Jesus will say these haunting words to:
“In ‘that day’ many will say to me, ‘Lord, Lord, didn’t we preach in your name, didn’t we cast out devils in your name, and do many great things in your name?’ Then I shall tell them plainly, ‘I have never known you. Go away from me, you have worked on the side of evil!’” (Matthew 7:22-23 Phillips)
We have exchanged common mercy for the idol of power when we wrongly believe that power is what we must curry and bow down to at any cost. We forget that Jesus hung out with people whose stories were littered with brokenness and exploitation. He stopped and stooped. His kingdom principles were always toward the poor, the weary, the forgotten, the downtrodden. I am one of those downtrodden when it comes to the haunting music of sexual abuse.
So, yes, these kinds of dismissals by top evangelical leaders trigger me. But more than that, these kinds of utterances of support tear down good men, reducing them to sex-crazed predators. I am married to a Pat(rick). He has painstakingly walked alongside me as I’ve wrestled toward health in the aftermath of rape. He has been patient and kind. Locker room talk is not his daily mantra, or even yearly practice. He loves me. He helps me re-learn my dignity. He prays for me. And he treats me with respect–as if I were (and I am) a cherished daughter of God, a fellow-heir to the kingdom of God. He does this because that is what Jesus did–and He loves Jesus.
People who love Jesus also love other people. They don’t exploit them. They don’t malign. They don’t prey on them from high positions. They’re not bigoted and racist. They’re seldom seeking their own rights, but actively looking for ways to bring justice to those who rarely see it.
We do a grand disservice to the good men in our world when we categorize them as uncontrolled potty mouths who constantly think about exploiting women for their gain.
I will not stand idly by while my so-called brothers in Christ do all sorts of mental gymnastics to promote a sexual predator, or dismiss his behavior as normative and right. It’s not normative; it’s predatory. It’s not right; it’s evil. (Remember what Satan’s evil aim is? To steal, kill, and destroy. Sexual abuse is all three. One of my friends told me this quote: “A sexual predator is a murderer who lets his victims live.”)
I know I’ll get flack for this post. But honestly, I needed to say it out loud–for me, for other victims, for all that is wrong with some strains of evangelicalism. I cannot ever, ever imagine Jesus saying lewd or predatory words, nor would He pat someone on the back, dismissing exploitation with a wink and a nod.