As part of our series on Crucial Conversations, we’re looking at the sobering and difficult realities of the #MeToo movement and what we can learn about the treatment and dignity of women from a biblical perspective.
Before we talk about what the Bible says about the #MeToo movement, we’re defining it here as a movement that calls attention to the pervasive nature of the abuse of women by men.
Read 2 Samuel 13.1–29.
This story of sexual violence and abuse in Israel seems like it could be pulled from today’s headlines. And these aren’t stories that are just happening in history or in the headlines; these kinds of stories happen to women all around us. One third of women around the globe say that they have experienced sexual and/or physical violence. In the US, one out of five women have experienced rape or attempted rape. 45% of those who haven’t experienced rape or attempted rape have still experienced another form of sexual violence. The abuse and maltreatment of women is truly pervasive in our culture today.
Read Genesis 1.27.
The Bible makes it incredibly clear that violence against women is absolutely wrong because it is violence against the image of God in women. Jesus honored the image of God in women in incredibly countercultural ways, and we must do the same. We can do this in three ways.
1. Honor women; don’t objectify them.
Read 1 Timothy 5.1–2. This means seeing women as people to be known, not objects to be consumed.
2. Serve women; don’t take advantage of them.
This means asking for consent before initiating any kind of contact and using our strength to serve women instead of wielding it over them.
3. Confess sexual brokenness; don’t hide it.
Sin flourishes where secrecy abounds. If there are areas of sexual brokenness in our lives, we need to find someone we trust to confide in so that we can work through our issues and move forward before they progress into thoughts and actions that dishonor women.
The story in 2 Samuel clearly condemns the action that Amnon took. It also condemns David’s inaction and silence. The Bible clearly tells us that we need to take action in these situations because hearing about injustice and doing nothing paves the way for future injustices.
There are many ways to seek justice, but we can start with these three.
1. Listen to women’s stories.
Many times, healing begins when we are able to share and talk about the ways in which we’ve been hurt. When there’s an opportunity to listen to women and their stories of abuse, take the opportunity and listen well. Romans 12 tells us to mourn with those who mourn, which means that when we listen, we shouldn’t interrogate, speak for the other party, or share cliches. We should simply listen and mourn with those who are hurting.
2. Seek justice for victims.
It can be the easy thing to do to ignore justice in the name of forgiveness. However, God is a God of both forgiveness and justice. As we hear stories about the abuse of women, we need to seek God and His justice for both victim and perpetrator.
3. Stand up against sexism.
A culture that accepts lewd comments and gender-based jokes is paving the way for a culture that accepts sexual abuse and violence. When we hear these kinds of comments—from friends, coworkers, family, or peers—we need to stand up and speak out against them as we respect the image of God in women.
As we continue to navigate these topics, it’s important to remember that God has unconditional love for both victims of physical and sexual abuse as well as for the perpetrators of it. As the God of justice, He loves those who have been victimized. And as the God of mercy, He loves the perpetrators of violence. He is a God whose grace covers all of us.
- How do you see the image of God reflected in the women around you?
- When was the last time you had the chance to listen to a woman talk about her experience with men? How did you listen? When the next opportunity arises, make sure to listen to her in a way that facilitates healing and redemption.
- Who in your life do you trust to confess your areas of sexual brokenness? If you don’t have someone, identify someone in your CABLE Group or close circle of friends with whom you can be honest and vulnerable.
- How do you react when you hear comments and jokes that disrespect women? Why do you react that way? Pray for the courage and boldness to stand up against sexism when you hear these kinds of comments in the future.