When the “Me Too” movement began, one of my long-time friends shared the hashtag on her social media page. She’d never mentioned her experience. I sent her a supportive note.
When we next met, she told me about her initial reluctance to go public for many reasons. Ultimately, she was swayed by the courage of other women. She hoped her hashtag would make a difference somehow.
So many women and men are speaking up about the sexual abuse they’ve encountered, knowing there will be a push-back in many cases – powerful men will dismiss them, church leaders will vilify them, people with agendas will attack them on social media.
Their courage is slowly changing how our society views sexual abuse and those who survive such abuse. The powerful are being held accountable – some, at least. A public conversation has started. New standards are being fashioned. Those who speak up are feeling empowered, getting justice and protecting others from abuse.
#MeToo is healing, holy work. God is inside every hashtag.
There’s another side to the story, of course. Powerful men – religious men, political men, corporate men – have dug in and resisted the divine quest for justice and healing.
And that puts each of us in position to decide where we stand, especially when people masquerading as religious leaders try to preserve the status quo.
Healing, holy work
We’ve seen it in the Catholic church. Those who were abused came forward and were essentially abused again by clergy who discounted and even shamed them. Working with God, they’ve finally brought the clergy to a moment of accountability and their church to a moment of reckoning.
The next step is to challenge the church’s broken, insular leadership structure that enabled and supported the abuse, even as clergy try to preserve it. God is working with the abuse survivors to bring about a reformation and a transformation.
In the past two weeks, we’ve seen the spectacle of Evangelical leaders insisting that a woman’s word about attempted rape doesn’t even matter – as though it doesn’t matter to God.
Many Evangelical leaders insist we should ignore a courageous woman’s “Me Too.” Franklin Graham said in an interview with Christian Broadcasting Network that Christine Blasey Ford’s account of fighting off rape doesn’t amount to sexual assault and isn’t relevant to any discussion.
It’s the good-old-boys’ line of defense: Shush the woman, support the man, sweep another horrific story of abuse beneath the sanctuary carpet to join the mountain of dirt already there. Pretend it didn’t happen. Move on.
A rejection of God herself
It’s that attitude which must be challenged and changed. Sexual abuse will continue so long as it gets the wink and nod of religious and social and political leaders.
That attitude must be called out for what it is: a rejection of God herself.
It’s a rejection of God who always sides with the oppressed and never with the oppressor, sexual or otherwise.
It’s a rejection of God who wants to get at the truth in every situation and never settles for silence or lies in the face of wrongdoing.
It’s a rejection of God who partners with women and men to challenge the male domination that has justified and enabled such evil things throughout human history.
It’s a rejection of God who always holds the hand of a survivor as they tell their story and never sides with those who try to sweep their story under the carpet.
It’s a rejection of God who says in solidarity: #MeToo.