Proverbs 18:5 "It is not right to acquit the guilty or deny justice to the innocent"
The Church is wonderful in so many ways. We are the family of God. We are a world-wide, multi-cultural, multi-generational, multi-ethnic group of believers. That's incredible. God uses His Church in so many ways. When there are so many people who are called together by the Lord and gifted by God Himself, of course wonderful things happen through those people. God uses and grows the body of Christ, and amazing things happen. Praise the Lord.
As truly amazing as the Church is, we are still all human. We all are flawed and broken people, and the really incredible thing is that God's grace permits us to be a part of His work despite our brokenness. But, even so, we are still people who mess up. We have human nature. Our carnality still exists.
The world around us is also broken. Atrocious things happen every second. Unborn children are murdered. Racism continues on. Innocent lives are taken because of careless and selfish acts. Women and children are sold for sex and made into slaves. Mass shootings. Bombings. The list is enormous and horrifying. That's the world that we live in. A world that desperately needs Christ more than anything.
What breaks my heart, so, so deeply, is when the secular world handles an issue better than God's Church. It seems like a crazy thing to say, how is that even possible? How could the world that destroys handle something better than the people who are filled with the Holy Spirit of God? Because, we are still people. We're human. We are not ever above reproach. We mean well. We want to help and fix and restore. Our hearts are in the right places. But in some cases, we're missing it.
The Lord has deeply grown my heart for victims of sexual violence, because that's my story. God has also grown and burdened my heart for educating and training the body of Christ to be loving, just, and present when sexual violence happens, because my story is also a story of mistreatment from the Church. Very unfortunately, that's not just my story. It's the story of thousands. It stretches far beyond the Church. One in three people are victims of sexual assault. One in three people. One in Five women in college will be sexually assaulted. One in thirty three victims are men. Statistics make people seem distant, but think about it. If you're a family of three or four, statistically, at least one of you has or will experience sexual violence. If you have a family of six, that's two people. If your church is a congregati0n of fifty members, that's fifteen people. If your congregation has 200 attendees, that's sixty people. Mega church? A congregation of two thousand means, six hundred people that attend your church have been sexually assaulted. That is devastating. It's repulsive. How can this happen.
What's even more devastating and heart breaking is that the Church isn't the number one help to this issue. In fact, the Church is very much behind on properly handling this. People forget that when someone in the church is sexually assaulted, it may be by another member of the church. It's not just a problem that the world is tainting the Church with, it can happen inside the body of Christ. And it does.
Sexual assault is not easy to talk about. It's not comfortable. It's heart-breaking and horrifying. It's hard for victims to recall, and it can be very hard to hear. It's especially difficult to discuss when another believer is the perpetrator. But, that's the story of thousands. It's hard to swallow. It taints the world's view of the church tremendously, and because of that, many, many, many churches sweep it under the rug. It's much easier. They mean well, they're only trying to help their church or organization or group. But, all that sweeping an issue under the rug does is help it grow. The monsters don't go away if you make them hide under the bed.
Unfortunately, many believers have inadvertently accepted rape culture. There are many women in the church who are made out to be responsible for the crime committed against them, and are forced to pay someone else's consequence. The trauma alone from a sexual assault causes life-long pain and consequences. Nightmares, panic attacks, distrust, post traumatic stress disorder, flash-backs, depression, and insomnia are only a few. Victims are turned into suspects. They're accused of the crime being their own fault because of what they had worn, eaten, drank, or said. "She was asking for it".
Unfortunately, what people don't realize, is that by the definition of what a sexual assault is, it means the victim was not asking for it. If she was, then it would not be a sexual assault.
More and more in the secular world, non-believers are the ones who are leading the campaigns and groups to end sexual assault that are educating men and women on sexual violence, provide counseling to victims, providing clothes and toiletries to women released from the hospital after they are admitted because of a rape or assault, they're signing petitions, taking matters to the supreme court, and they're changing the way the world handles this.
It's not to say that some churches or Christians or Christian groups don't do that, many do. Many give their time, talents, and hearts to helping victims. There are men and women who devote their lives to this, and what a blessing they are. We shouldn't be discouraged, because these people prove there is hope and a way we can help as Christians. I in no way want to undermine those people. Unfortunately though, those people make up a small number of the Church as a whole. We're not present. We're not proactive. We aren't there.
An example of what happens at hundreds of Christian colleges and universities is the crimes committed at Baylor University, a private Christian university in Texas, which has been named a "hunting ground for sexual predators". A private law firm, Pepper Hamilton, was hired by Baylor. The firm reviewed how Baylor had handled sexual assault cases in the past. The report that Pepper Hamilton made on Baylor scathed the school. They reported that there was an overwhelming amount of cases and most which did not even receive a hearing. Eight former students of Baylor have joined together in a law-suit against the school after being sexually assaulted during their time there. This case follows the case of Jasmin Hernandez. Jasmin sued Baylor in March after she was raped by a Baylor football player, Tevin Elliot. Tevin Elliot now is serving a twenty year sentence. Jasmin told CBSN, "I think it’s even more tragic that the university has been aware of all of these instances and had the opportunity to do the right thing and yet, they choose time and time and time again to do the wrong thing."
Patty Crawford was the school's Title IX coordinator. A Title IX coordinator is required at all accredited universities under federal grant, and is responsible for investigating reports from students about harassment, crimes, discrimination, sexism, so on and so forth. Ms. Crawford was responsible for handling sexual assault reports at the school. At her time there, she increased reports of assault by 700%, but claims "it was clear that was not something the university wanted". She was interviewed by CBSN about her role at Baylor and why she left. Crawford was asked said who at Baylor prevented her from doin her job, she said "A group of Senior leaders who were protecting the brand, I believe, instead of our students."
As Christians, we are called to do more than protect the brand. We have a responsibility to stand up for justice and speak for the voiceless. It doesn't matter what issue. We are the Church of God. We have been given new life. We are the hands and feet of Jesus on earth. We're the body. We should be the ones who are setting the bar. People should look to us to see what the example set is. We should be the number one fighters for justice on the front lines. It's not just a nice thought and a far-away dream. It's our responsibility and duty to our God to stand up for the broken and hurting. The Church excels at so many things. We serve the living and Almighty God of heaven. We are capable of anything. We can be the front line fighters. We serve God. We're filled with His Holy Spirit. We literally have the capability to change the world. So where are we church?
Isaiah 1:17 "Learn to do right; seek justice. Defend the oppressed. Take up the cause of the fatherless; plead the case of the widow."
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