I think it is sad that it needs to be said, but I admit it needs to be said, and loudly: Sexual harassment, sexual assault or violence against women in any form is never, ever okay. The need to say this is precipitated partially because several prominent Christian leaders have resigned or been fired due to inappropriate behavior or comments. I think it is also appropriate to say so on Memorial Day Weekend when we remember those who have died for our country. In them we encounter the value of life, life given to protect our country. They symbolize what our faith tells us, that people matters. People, all people are precious to God. This means, let me say it again, that sexual violence, violence of any kind, sexual harassment in all forms, is never acceptable. It is an abomination before the Lord.
Let me meander through a few thoughts that flow from this. First, since all of us are made in God’s image, then no matter who we are or what we have done, we have value before the Lord. Given that, all people need to be treated with respect, dignity and care. Whenever we objectify someone, turn then into a sexual object, perceive them based on what we “want” or “desire” rather than on what they deserve as one of God’s precious creatures, we devalue the image of God. That makes it sin, pure and simple.
Personally, I see this as a greater obligation on men. Now before you get all mad at me, hear me out. God instructs me as a male to relate to my wife as the “weaker” partner (1 Peter 3:7). I know, you are getting madder, but hear me out. What it means for the women to be “weaker” is hard to decipher. But what is clear is that I have an obligation before God to be protective of my wife, and by extension of women in general. They are unique and precious in God’s economy, and God expects me to acknowledge and honor that. Obviously we can “over apply” this is dangerous ways, but that doesn’t negate God’s expectation. For me, one way it means is that I work not to out any women in an uncomfortable or vulnerable position. My practice is that I never meet privately with a woman, beside my wife or family members, unless there is another individual on the “premises”. Also, I never ride in a car alone with another women. Some may think this is ridiculous. That’s okay. In my opinion they deserve it. They don’t need to be in a place where they are vulnerable. I think God has said I owe them that…to be protective of their character, dignity and value.
We also work to implement this value at Hope. One example is our child safety policies. We work to have two non-related adults in each classroom. The thought is this insures accountability to protect those least able to protect themselves. This highlights the need for a robust team of people serving in Kids Connect. We also take all “mandatory reporter” issues seriously and seek legal counsel when appropriate. There is no way for us to believe people are worth “saving” if we don’t also live as though they are worth treating with respect and dignity, no matter what their age.
On Memorial Day Weekend, we remember the value of lives. We recall the freedom those lives protect for us. A freedom to live out our faith in a way that reflects the inherit value in each and every person. All people truly matter to God.