Speak

Speak
How can the violation of a woman’s mind, body, and soul result in a 6 month sentence for her rapist? How can 3 felony convictions ultimately result in only 3 months of time served?
 
What message does this lenient sentence send to young boys, teens, and men about the sacredness of a woman’s ability to have complete control and power over her body and what happens to her body?
 
While we can’t directly impact the judicial system with our religious teachings, we can impact the way in which we teach men and women to see one another in our churches.
 
We need to remove the privileged teachings of any theology which advocates male authority over women. Why are more believers not speaking out against teachings which instruct women to position themselves beneath men in the home, church, marriage, and beyond?
While the specific case of the Stanford rapist isn’t directly related to religious teachings, we, as believers, have to examine what we are doing to contribute to the culture of privilege which allows for the continued abuse of women nationally and globally.
We have to examine the consequences of doctrines which give men authority over women but fail to include a “how to” guide for using said authority appropriately.
 
We should be advocating for teachings which honor a woman’s freedom in Christ, which empower her gifts, which put her on equal grounds of authority in her home, marriage, and church. 
 
When I think about teaching my daughter to “submit” to male authority, a pit forms in my stomach because I know men are human, fallible beings. I know there is not a single verse or scripture which assures me of a man’s ability to not abuse his power while there are many which warn against the possibility of abuse occurring because God knows the dangers of power and privilege in the hands of imperfect people.
 
When I think about teaching my son to assert his authority as a man, an even bigger pit forms in my stomach because I am terrified of how wrong that message could unfold in his life.
 
When I read the words of the woman victimized, my heart hurts for her. I feel moved to add my voice to the many thousands of voices crying out against this injustice.
 
“Show men how to respect women…” she writes.
 
Yes let’s do that. Church, let’s show men how to respect women by doing away with patriarchal hierarchy which invites abuse and privilege. 
 
Let’s teach boys and men it’s not about the hem-line but the heart.
 
Let’s teach boys and men to see girls and women as someone’s daughter, mother, sister, aunt, or grandmother, and because she’s a creation of God, she is part of his family, as well.
Let’s teach men respect for women by teaching them about the women in the Bible!
Let’s teach them about Jael from Judges and Abigail in 1 Samuel and Ruth and Esther and Deborah and Mary and Martha and Hagar and Dorcas and the dozens of women whose stories go untold from the pulpits and classrooms of our children.
 
“You took away my worth, my privacy, my energy, my time, my safety, my intimacy, my confidence, my own voice, until today.”
 
Church, let’s give women their voices back. Let’s invite women to every decision making table in our churches. Let’s show women their voices matter. When we set women free to teach and lead and serve in every arena of church, we are sending the message to the world that women’s voices matter.
 
“The fact that Brock was an athlete at a private university should not be seen as an entitlement to leniency, but as an opportunity to send a message that sexual assault is against the law regardless of social class.”
 
Teaching privilege and entitlement of any kind is dangerous. Racial privilege, social privilege, and gender privilege are all slippery-slopes that we do not want to perpetuate in the Church with messages about male-headship, husband pastors, and spiritual leaders.
 
We need to do away with archaic cultural models of power and lean in to the teachings of Jesus Christ. Teachings which assure all believers of our complete freedom in Christ. Teachings which honor women. Teachings which call for us to do unto others. Teachings which direct us to love one another as Christ loves us.
 
“And finally, to girls everywhere, I am with you. On nights when you feel alone, I am with you. When people doubt you or dismiss you, I am with you. I fought everyday for you. So never stop fighting, I believe you. As the author Anne Lamott once wrote, “Lighthouses don’t go running all over an island looking for boats to save; they just stand there shining.” Although I can’t save every boat, I hope that by speaking today, you absorbed a small amount of light, a small knowing that you can’t be silenced, a small satisfaction that justice was served, a small assurance that we are getting somewhere, and a big, big knowing that you are important, unquestionably, you are untouchable, you are beautiful, you are to be valued, respected, undeniably, every minute of every day, you are powerful and nobody can take that away from you. To girls everywhere, I am with you. Thank you.”
 

I can’t help but recognize the beauty of the holy spirit moving in her message.

I can’t help but hear Jesus’ voice in the victim’s final message to girls.
Do you see it? Can you hear it, too?
Can you recognize the need for this message to be on the lips of every pastor, leader, and servant of our churches?
 
It’s time. Break the silence. We must speak out against injustice in every form or our silence may be mistaken for acceptance.
 
Speak. She spoke. She used her voice for justice. It’s time we all follow.

5 Comments

  1. Dr. Clark Roush
    Jun 9, 2016

    Carrie – this resonates with the spirit of Jesus! I can’t agree with you more, and hope that more MEN start carrying the banner for the end of patriarchy. You did more than merely “cast stones,” you provided answers. Bless you, your thoughts, your journey, and thank you for being transparent and pointed. You are a blessing!

    • admin
      Jun 9, 2016

      Thank you, Dr. Roush, for your words of support and affirmation. Thank you for seeing grace and sincerity in my words, as that is my hope each time I write. May others read your comment and heed your call for men and women to come alongside, armoring up together to do Jesus’ will.

  2. Mike Fernandez
    Jun 9, 2016

    Your points are very well stated. Men need to lift up their daughters . We also need to teach our sons to respect women as equals. Men need to start giving women a voice in the church.

  3. Lamar Wadsworth
    Jun 9, 2016

    This is a message that ought to be proclaimed from every pulpit. This is gospel. Thank you for this excellent word.

    • admin
      Jun 9, 2016

      Thank you for your supportive comment. My prayer is for every pastor, leader, and person of faith to speak freedom into their messages for all.

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