Speak Up

One of the things in our world that has concerned me a lot recently has been the spate of stories about sexual abuse and harassment carried out by powerful men. Bill O’Reilly, Harvey Weinstein, Mark Halperin and many others have been in the news for their abusive and boorish behavior toward women. As the father of two young women, the brother of two women and the husband of another woman, I have a deep personal stake in how women are treated in the world. I want these women who are so important to my life to be safe from the kinds of harassment and even assault that we hear about in the media. And not just the members of my family, but all women. To be sure, it is not just wealthy, famous men who commit these violent acts because they think they can get away with it, as some have evidently done for a time, but men and boys of all ages and positions in life.

What are we to do about this? Jesus challenged the men who were threatening the woman caught in adultery to “let whoever is without sin cast the first stone”. The world hasn’t changed much, in that there was no penalty or punishment for the man who was involved in that adultery, at least in this story, but he was definitely at least as responsible as she was. As Jesus’ physical presence in the world today, we are called as men to follow Jesus’ example and speak up when we encounter situations of harassment and disrupt sexist jokes, actions and behaviors. Putting peer pressure on each other to treat women better is the least we can do. In doing so, we both express tangible active love and support for the women involved and we begin to change the culture which treats such behavior as a joke.

This is not just doing something for women, whether they are personally close to us or strangers who we see being abused, but rather a matter of living out our faith and becoming more the people God has created us to be. “Do unto others as you would have them do unto you”. It is hard to speak up about many things that are wrong in the world, especially when they are carried out by our coworkers, friends, or even family members. However, the call to love our neighbor certainly needs to include speaking up when we become aware of the abusive behavior carried out by those around us.

God of Love,

Grant us wisdom and courage to speak up and act when your children, especially your daughters, are being abused. Grant us the wisdom and courage to examine our own behavior and make sure that we are not carrying out the same kind of selfish and demeaning words and acts in our own lives. Thank you for your love for us and for the example you have given us in our brother and Lord, Jesus. Help us learn how to really love those around us.

David Erickson-Pearson

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