…. What?!

As those of you who follow both Meerkat Musings and The Coalition of the Brave are aware, I have, on several occasions, exchanged words with the author of Theology Archaeology. As a matter of fact, there’s an on-going ‘chat’ regarding morality (among other things) taking place right here. I’ll leave it to you to decide whether TA is being reasonable. Moving on though, is his latest entry, which concerns the #MeToo movement and its relationship with the Christianity (or rather, his particular interpretation of it). He copying and pasting from another site – where he’s done so, I’ll put those remarks into italics.

The MeToo movement is a “wake-up call” for Southern Baptist pastors, said James Merritt, lead pastor of Cross Pointe Church in Duluth, Georgia, ahead of the denomination’s annual meeting on Tuesday.

“The safest place an abused woman should feel she can go is her church. And the safest person she should feel like she should be able to go to is her pastor,” said Merritt during a panel discussion hosted by the Ethics & Religious Liberty Commission, titled “Conversation on Gospel Sexuality in a #MeToo Culture.”

This is ony partially true. The pastor also has to be the safest place  for the abuser to go to as well. The pastor and the church cannot take human sides. If they do, then the story, emotion, and the facts are influenced and sway the church to act outside of the biblical call to do justice. The church must stand with God and take his side.

When the church starts playing favorites or lets its sympathy or hatred get in the way, then God’s ways are lost and humans suffer because of it. God does not get the glory for solving the issue. Justice does not favor one side over the other. Women are not always sinless when they are subject to abuse.

Wait, the abuser needs a safe place?

The person who violated another person’s being should receive the same care and attention as the victim (and apparently this is justice in action)? I am all for a fair judicial system, but look at the language in use here – we’re not even remotely looking at an innocent-until-proven-guilty scenario – this is a scenario where we are talking about an abuser – someone who has committed a crime – being treated in the same manner as the victim, in the apparent interests of justice. Does that sit right with you? Because it doesn’t sit right with me. Furthermore, we have that little nugget at the end – women aren’t sinless when subject to abuse. What does that even mean? Plus, should ‘sin’ on the victim’s somehow provide mitigating circumstances for the abuser? This is akin to that classic, completely misleading idea of ‘she led me on’. It’s a means of excusing violent and abusive behaviour and a way of relieving the offender of their responsibility to behave in the right way. It’s an excuse that doesn’t work with any other crime (when was the last time you heard of someone say ‘they led me on into thinking they wanted to be robbed/murdered’?), yet here we have the excuse, cloaked in flimsy logic and hidden behind the argument of ‘sin’.

Notable women in Christian leadership positions, such as Beth Moore and Kay Warren, have joined the chorus of thousands of people revealing their stories of sexual assault and harassment under the #MeToo hashtag.

The online movement has been flooded with accounts of abusive pastors and church members.

But are they actual acts of abuse or sexual mistreatment accordng to God’s definition or theirs? Secular culture is not the determining force in what is or isn’t abuse. The church also acts under God’s rules not the secular world’s (for the most part). But what they are all talking about is sin. Sin comes in a variety of forms and from both sides of any issue.

Lying about being abused is as much a sin as actual abuse is. We know how to handle sin and we know what needs to be done. When we start being line item specific sometimes we forget that sin is sin and there is only one answer to solving it. Abuse and other sins all come from our human frailty, the sin nature. If we take bibliclal teaching seriously, we can reduce the amount of sin conducted in the church, including abuse.

BUT it must really be sin and not someone’s idea it is sin. The accusation has to be honest, have more than one witness, have real evidence and not someone’s word only and so on.

The first paragraph swings back to the idea that the victim can somehow be responsible through the sketchy medium of ‘sin’. Also, what exactly is God’s definition of abuse or sexual mistreatment?

1 Thessalonians 4:3-6 ESV / 12 helpful votes Helpful Not Helpful

For this is the will of God, your sanctification: that you abstain from sexual immorality; that each one of you know how to control his own body in holiness and honor, not in the passion of lust like the Gentiles who do not know God; that no one transgress and wrong his brother in this matter, because the Lord is an avenger in all these things, as we told you beforehand and solemnly warned you.

Does the above Biblical quote not suggest that the perpetrators of abuse should refrain from such behaviour? Or, are we to interpret it as meaning that if a woman dresses ‘provocatively’ (which often seems to be defined by the offender and not the victim), she is being immoral? I wonder…

Corinthians 7:3-5. 3 The husband should give to his wife her conjugal rights, and likewise the wife to her husband. 4 For the wife does not have authority over her own body, but the husband does. Likewise the husband does not have authority over his own body, but the wife does. 5 Do not deprive …

The above quote is easily used to suggest that both men and women should be agreeable to sex, whether they actually want it on, on the basis that their partner wants it. Do I need to explain to anyone what’s wrong with that?

An exact definition for what constitutes abuse and sexual assault in Biblical terms is proving hard to find, however (despite TA’s rejection of it) society already has such definitions and they are pretty clear.

Then there’s this false equivalence between being abused and lying about it. Firstly, it is all too typical to assume the victim is lying – they rarely receive the benefit of the doubt. Secondly, I’ve seen some excellent tweets that highlight just how different these scenarios actually are:

There’s more, but I don’t have the time of energy to wade through it all.

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