Where does the church stand on the #MeToo movement?

A little bit of historical context about the #MeToo Movement. Revelations came out in waves in 2018, with allegations of everything from harassment to rape by a Hollywood movie maker Harvey Weinstein. Then on October 15 actress Alyssa Milano sent out a tweet that said, “If you’ve been sexually harassed or assaulted write #MeToo as a reply to this tweet.” The next day she woke up to find that more than 30,000 people had used the hashtag #MeToo. Within twenty-four hours, it had risen to 12 million. And has since grown to hundreds of millions in at least 85 countries. We all know Hollywood has issues but what about when it hits closer to home. 

Harvey Weinstein


Alyssa Milano

*trigger warning

These courageous women and millions like them have found their voice and it has resulted in the exposure of hundreds of prominent men in news, morning shows, entertainment, sports, business politics, and education. Men we thought could be trusted. Names that we knew. People that we believed in that have been publicly exposed. 

And sadly, I must acknowledge it has reached the church world too! Sexual misconduct, harassment, or abuse of any kind anywhere is always tragic, damaging, hurtful, and sinful. Even more complicated and hurtful and dark when it’s inflicted by the very people who should have been the safest refuge and protectors for victims of abuse.

#metoo movement

So where does the church stand? I hope it’s obvious but this is not a gray area. The Bible never flinches in recording and denouncing the sexual sins and mistakes of its characters.

And it’s always wrong when one of God’s treasured daughters (or God’s treasured sons for that matter) experiences sexual misconduct or sexual harassment.  There are many scriptures I could point you to, but the clearest relational blueprints in Scripture are these words from the apostle Paul to a young church leader named Timothy in 1 Timothy 5:2:  “Treat… older women as mothers, and younger women as sisters, with absolute purity.” That’s pretty clear, isn’t it?

In other words, treat the people you work with, the people who report to you, the people you attend church with, and the people in your neighborhood like family with absolute purity. If someone is young enough to be your daughter, treat her like you would want your daughter treated. If someone is a peer, treat her like you would want your sister to be treated. If someone is old enough to be your mother, treat her like you would want your mother to be treated.

Now can I just take a minute to talk directly to guys?  Guys, listen to me please we need to be courageously more like Jesus was with women. Here’s what I believe, no matter how many women share their stories, until enough men rise up to intervene, condemn, and protect….the exploitation of women isn’t going to end. Proverbs 31:8  instructs us to speak up for those who cannot speak for themselves; ensure justice for those being crushed. So guys, what does it mean for us to speak up for those who can’t speak for themselves and to ensure justice for those being crushed? It means instead of laughing at a joke that was demeaning or disrespectful to a woman, a real man says, “That joke wasn’t funny and it wasn’t appropriate.” – When a man hears that from another man, he doesn’t tend to repeat that joke. It means instead of turning a blind eye to a pat on the butt or a brush against a breast, or a way over-extended hug, it’s a man intervening and saying, “Don’t ever touch her that way again.” Chances are, he’ll think twice next time. We need to treat our colleagues with respect, dignity, and appreciation for their skills and abilities. We need to extend equal pay and benefits for equal work. 

Now if I could say a few words to you as a woman. Statistically, quite a number of you have been the target, the object, or the victim of sexual harassment in many different forms and I know this is painful for many of you. Almost every woman who has gone through sexual harassment in whatever form, talks about the emotional, psychological, and spiritual fallout. They wrestle with guilt and wonder if they somehow asked for it; if they could have deflected it. They wonder if they were making a big deal out of nothing and many victims carry shame that should only belong to the perpetrator.

Let me say something to you  as a pastor, husband, brother and a father, listen to me… it was NOT your fault. It is NEVER your fault.

It doesn’t matter what you were wearing.

It doesn’t matter what you said.

It doesn’t matter where you were.

IT’S NOT YOUR FAULT and it’s always always a big deal!

God’s Word declares you are loved; you are valuable; you matter; and in Jesus, there is no male or female and He wants you to be a powerful and change-making force for good in this world with your life inside and outside the church!

You don’t need to apologize for who God made you to be whether that’s a leader, a teacher, a mother, a lawyer, a doctor, a grandmother, a musician, a wife, an artist, or a pastor.  Be who God made you to be inside and outside of the church. I am so sorry for anyone in your life who has mistaught or mistreated you, and I for one want to be part of setting a different tone and direction in my life and in this church.

Friends, not only am I sickened when mistreatment happens in a workplace, in a school, in the military, or in a family but I am so troubled and grieved when it happens in a church. 

We never see in the Bible anywhere God ever attempts to cover up the embarrassing behavior of His leaders.  They may have tried to cover it up, but God never did! When sexual misconduct happens it should never be covered up; never spun; never hidden. I agree with the hashtag #SilenceIsNotSpiritual. What matters in these instances is not the church’s reputation but that a treasured child of God has been abused or assaulted and justice has to be brought to bear. As a church, we must and we will stand with the oppressed, the assaulted, the harassed, the demeaned, and the disrespected no matter who the perpetrator may be. We refuse to ever hide, cover up, or go into spin-control mode.

Now for many of you, this is a very painful topic, and it’s not a topic I enjoy talking about but one we MUST talk about.  Jesus didn’t just come to set us free from our sins but also the sin done to us. The blood poured out on the cross of Jesus Christ doesn’t just heal you from the grip of sins that you’ve done, but the grip of sins done to you.  –The cross does both. There is freedom for you, but you have to trust God….you have to receive it and experience it. God made a way for you through Jesus and there’s freedom for you.

Our team has compiled some of the most challenging, difficult, controversial, frequently asked questions we get about faith and Christianity as it relates to life, morality, current events, the end of the world, and more. We will explore these questions in ways that I think you’ll find surprising! Why take on these controversial topics? Because these questions are often roadblocks for people when it comes to faith and Christianity. For more discussions on these topics, you can read Eastside’s Got Questions Blog and check out the series You Asked For It.

Author: Gene Appel
Eastside Christian Church
Anaheim, CA

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