With the latest stories of abuse by a famed Hollywood mogul flooding our airways, women across America are responding with the hashtag “Me Too”. Riding the coattails of those who have courageously stepped out before them, those previously suffering in silence are coming forth by the thousands to speak out about their own trauma connected to sexual harassment and assault. Just this week alone, more than 140 women working in California politics signed a letter emphasizing the word “Enough” in an effort to end what they are calling “pervasive sexual harassment “ in government and business. (https://www.cbsnews.com/news/california-women-politics-speak-out-sexual-harassment-letter/).
Unfortunately, this latest outcry is not far removed from those connected to last October’s news reports detailing the grossly disturbing remarks about women made by a candidate running for public office (#NotOk). Some may remember that at that time my own blocked out memories of abuse came flooding back without warning. Adding to this was the pressure I sensed many of us were feeling to “push past” the far reaching effects of deplorable behavior in the name of politics. (http://realwomencry.org/2016/10/14/the-power-of-no/).
As a woman with a passion for God who just happens to hold a graduate degree in political science I know full well how confusing life as a Christian woman can be. We’re called to “submit” and “respect” (Ephesians 5:22, 33). We may feel pressured into thinking that if we do not vote in a certain way we are somehow failing as a Christian even if as women of the Word the vote we cast asks us to ignore our deeply held God-engrained convictions. Sometimes we are buried so deep in the mire of people-pleasing and “getting it all right” that we miss the simple truths right in front of us: that God’s love does not delight in evil but rejoices with the truth. It always protects. (1 Corinthians 13:6-7).
As I pray my October blog “The Power of NO” clearly communicates, it is not God’s will for us to shrug our shoulders and accept sinful behavior in a spirit of defeat and hopelessness. We do have choices other than putting up with what the Bible flat-out calls sin. God loves women and wants us and our daughters safe. Whether in the form of inappropriate remarks, profane, lewd or degrading language, or blatant sexual abuse, living a life of grace and forgiveness toward our offenders is not and has never been a license for abusers to continue to abuse. If such were the case, laws and authorities put in place to protect us would have been abolished at the cross. Men and women alike are called to “submit to one another out of reverence to Christ.” (Ephesians 5:21).
As the women of the hashtag “Me Too” have been showing us, it can initially be hard to speak out and say NO. Abuse traumatizes us, stifling us into thinking that we can never be free. Thank God that the silver lining in all of this can be found in the plethora of Biblical promises which tell us that God is still very much on a mission to cause even the most horrific of circumstances “to work together for the good of those who love Him” (Romans 8:28). Riding the coattails of the new found courage that comes from a true understanding of God’s love for us, women sitting under the weight of any kind of hurt can speak freely about their pain to the One Who gave His very life to ensure our eternal security. The arms of Jesus are always safe: no hashtag required. May God give us the courage to come to Him this day with all that constrains us that He might bring forth beauty from even the most wretched of our ash heaps. (Isaiah 61:3).
-Catherine H. Cieciuch DeBenedetto,