#MeToo and #ChurchToo have been telling the stories of men sexually assaulting and harassing women. There are people I love who have been victims of sexual assault. Because of this, the stories being told are really hitting home for me. I think that most men struggle with what to do in these conversations, and I really believe we are not always responding in a way that reflects the heart of Jesus.
Here are four ways every Christian man should respond to the stories of #MeToo.
1. Don’t Ignore It
The common reaction amongst most men is to believe that #MeToo doesn’t really apply to the average man. The people who are being accused of sexual assault are men with power and authority over women, and the average man is simply not in that kind of position. When we shrug our shoulders, we are exercising the attitude that #MeToo is a limited problem that is caused by a small number of men.
When we ignore it, then we are ignoring the reality that all around us there are women (and men) who have encountered sexual assaults. Statistics Canada says there are more than 500,000 incidents of sexual assault against women every single year. Approximately 39% of women have experienced at least one incident of sexual assault since the age of 16.
When we ignore #MeToo, then we ignore those around us who are wounded.
2. Examine Your Own Heart
Jesus once said that “out of the heart comes … sexual immorality” (Matthew 15:19). The sexual assault of women is an outward expression of what is really in a man’s heart. Most Christian men would claim they have never sexually assaulted a woman, and that is likely true. However, most men would acknowledge they have lusted after women. This is also an expression of what is in our hearts.
Whether we are guilty of sexual assault or lust, the real issue according to Jesus, is our heart. It is in our hearts where we discover how we really view women. Do the actions of your life show a man who views women as a fellow image bearer of God who is worthy of respect, or does your heart say that you view women as people who exist merely to satisfy your sexual desires?
3. Hold the Guilty Accountable
I know there are many who are openly asking if every single accusation of sexual assault is true, or if there is a deeper agenda against certain men. The real answer is that none of us knows the facts of every single story. What we do know is that there is enough evidence to suggest we have a problem in the world of men. As men, we need to hold the guilty accountable. As men, we need to call out what is really going on in our hearts.
When you are out for lunch with co-workers who make sexual comments about a woman – you need to be man enough to speak out and say that those comments are not OK. When you learn about a man breaking the law, you need to report it to the authority that God says He has established to protect people and to provide justice in the land.
Our actions speak loudly. There are people who are vulnerable and are counting on you and I to help protect them by holding the guilty accountable.
4. Point Everyone to Jesus
The good news is that Jesus came to rescue sinners and to heal the brokenhearted.
Yes, the guilty need to be held accountable. The guilty also need to know there is a place for forgiveness and restoration of relationship. Grace does not mean you are free from all consequences for your actions. Grace does mean that you can still have redemption in your life. One of the sad parts of #MeToo is that people are forever writing off the guilty. As Christians, we can tell a different story – a story of forgiveness, the gift of a new life, and a change in our hearts and attitudes.
Those who have been hurt, abused, or assaulted also need to know that Jesus is there for them. He wants to heal the places in their heart and mind that have been deeply wounded by the actions of men.
Men, if we want to be like Jesus, then we need to step up in this moment. Silence is not an option. These women are somebody’s daughter, sister, mother. Most importantly, they are image bearers of God. Let’s use this moment in history to write a new story of hope for our daughters, granddaughters, and for women everywhere.