You know that a social catharsis is underway and a social remedy needed when a phenomenon like “Me Too” shows no signs of going away. And it shouldn’t. As someone said: “Me Too isn’t a fad, it is a truth and truths don’t fade”.
I am confident that everyone knows what “Me Too” is, which saves me defining it. What I want to add to the discussion is that, as much as we might not want to look at it, Christianity has a culpable role to play in the origins of the problem. That’s because although we try to keep faith and culture separate, we really can’t—especially in this country. Many social norms are flavored by Christian mores and many traditional Christian mores are based on patriarchy.
The idea that women should “know their place”, that men are the “head of the household”, and even “boys will be boys” all have their origins in the bible (most particularly Paul’s writings about how the early church should function). These notions have led to the assumption that women are weak while men are strong; women are the keepers of purity while men are barely able to control their sexual urges. It is a mixed up set of assumptions, born of religious tradition, and none of it is true.
It has led, however, to a remarkable lack of sympathy for victims of sexual intimidation and abuse in some Christian communities—particularly evangelical communities (i.e. the Roy Moore debacle in Alabama). Even after the Catholic child abuse scandal revelations, there is still a knee jerk reflex on the part of some to instinctively believe men in positions of power simply because they are, well, men in positions of power.
To be sure, there are some looming cautions surrounding Me Too. Should an accusation be all that is needed to ruin a career? What is the role of redemption? That is, is there no room for evolution in a person’s thinking and behaving over the course of their adult life? As healing as Me Too is for victims, there are unanswered questions such as these that, until they are addressed, can lead to solutions that feel and sound more like vengeance than empowerment.
Still, I think it is important to remember that since much the problem stems from women being considered second class citizens to men (the “genesis” of which can, in fact, be found in the first book of the bible), it stands to reason that the solution should also begin, at least in part, in religious communities.
In this regard, it is once again good to know that, institutionally speaking, the United Church of Christ is ahead of the curve on this. For example, ordination of women began for us in 1852 and today most seminarians are women.
Nevertheless, on a day to day level we should always let the presence of our all-inclusive God inform our interactions with one another; not least because…God herself can come in many disguises!
See you in church,