As a woman who works in the church, as the mother of three grown adults,
and frankly, just as a human being,
I have a few words to say about sexual harassment and sexual abuse of power that is rampant in our world:
It has been going on since the beginning of time.
Ask any woman you know, and I bet she will have a story, or three.
I have mine,
including one in which I reported a pastor from a previous church who had a habit of touching women inappropriately.
I was one of those women who thought long and hard, but eventually decided to speak up.
Times were different then.
Those of us who reported were scorned.
The pastor was seen as a victim.
The outcome was dark and ugly and divisive and so hurtful.
Ever wonder why women don't come forward right away and speak their truth?
It is because too often, we tend to shoot our wounded.
Why do you think Jesus had to save the "woman caught in adultery" from being stoned, mostly likely by a group of men? Surely there was a "man caught in adultery" as well, right?
Listen, I love men.
I love and admire my dad, my brother, my father-in-law, my husband, my son, my male colleagues and friends ...
This is not an anti-men rant.
It is a strong shot-across-the-bow, though, for all of us.
The day and age where women will just "take it" and be quiet out of fear of backlash may be over, at least for a time.
Let's hope so.
And my plea is that the church - of all places - should be known as one of THE places where women are honored, respected, valued and believed. Where women can walk in and KNOW that they are in a harrassment-free zone.
My fear, however, is that too often the church is the exact opposite.
Too often, we are part of the problem.
It is time - well beyond time - that we instead become leaders in the move toward a solution.
Let's start by seeing women and men as equals.
Let's start by bringing our own darkness into the light and being appropriately repentant about all the ways we as Christians have either mistreated women, or have allowed them to be mistreated.
Let's start by promising to believe women when they work up the courage to be honest about what they have experienced. Let's not cherry pick Bible verses to toss at them like grenades in order to silence them.
Let's start by taking any and all kinds of harassment and abuses of power - sexual or otherwise - very, very seriously as violations of the belief that every human is a divine bearer of the image of God.
Let's just start, church, shall we?
The world waits.
I read this poem this morning (slowly, a few times through) and was so touched by its simply beauty and powerful truth.
It is by leaning on another frail human being when we fail that something beautiful and strong can unfold.
We are truly better together.
Take a breath, take a moment here. Read this aloud if you need to. Read it two or three times until the truth of what the poet is saying forms a lasting image in your mind and marks your soul with wisdom.
Most like an arch — an entrance which upholds
and shores the stone-crush up the air like lace.
Mass made idea, and idea held in place.
A lock in time. Inside half-heaven unfolds.
Most like an arch — two weaknesses that lean
into a strength. Two fallings become firm.
Two joined abeyances become a term
naming the fact that teaches fact to mean.
Not quite that? Not much less. World as it is,
what’s strong and separate falters…
It is by falling in and in we make
the all-bearing point, for one another’s sake,
in faultless failing, raised by our own weight.
(John Ciardi, 1916 – 1986)
"We need not get frantic.
God is at the helm.
And when our little day is done we lie down quietly in peace,
for all is well."