When I first noticed the rise of the #MeToo posts on social media, they came from the places I most expected – my friends who were active in politics and media, friends with their fingers on the pulse of social media campaigns and who were always the first to react.
Slowly, however, the #MeToos began popping up in places I least expected it – from friends who I knew from church and my years in private school.
It’s not to say that I don’t believe girls in churches and Christian schools can be sexually harassed or assaulted. In fact, I know the exact opposite to be true.
What surprised me was that these girls not only acknowledged their own experiences, but were willing to speak out about them.
In my experience, the hardest place for a Christian woman to find support when she has been sexually harassed or assaulted in any way is from the people she expected to support her the most – her church, Christian leaders in her small Christian school, godly people she otherwise would trust almost unconditionally.
I don’t need to regale you with the tales of sexual assaults and cover ups on Christian college campuses and high schools and abuse in churches.
I’ve also seen many articles, Facebook posts, and tweets exhorting women to stand together, to teach each other and our daughters about our value and worth, to pray that the world becomes safer, to stand together as communities and protect ourselves.
That is all wonderful, and I think these things need to be done. But that alone won’t be enough.
Mothers teaching their daughters to protect themselves only goes so far.
We can be taught to park under street lamps, carry our car keys like a weapon, never walk alone at night, never accept an open drink at a party, travel in packs, dress modestly, behave demurely, and any other protective measure that we can imagine.
But how does any of that protect you from a classmate who thinks it’s ok to grab your butt? Or from the boy in youth group who drugs your coke? Or from your boyfriend who doesn’t take no for an answer?
The problem is, for a large portion of these women posting #MeToo, they weren’t raped by a stranger on the street. Their violation came at the hands of someone they should have been able to trust. And when…no, IF they reported the assault, they were met with disbelief at best.
Here’s the thing, Christian people, you do not have the privilege of being separated from this problem. You cannot look down from your ivory towers, clutching your pearls, blaming the sexual revolution for this phenomenon.
No, you are a huge part of the problem.
Ask the young women in your churches and schools. Ask the women in your Bible studies. This isn’t about the problems “of the world.” This is about the problem in your own pews, classrooms, and dorm rooms.
Over the past few years, Christian women have discovered that they are not alone.
We are seeing that our experiences are not isolated incidents, and we are bonding together to create communities where other hurting women can be believed and protected. There are still the women on the “outside” who are protecting the institutions or the men involved; but for the most part, we women have our marching orders to bring about change.
But women are not the whole problem and women cannot solve the problem alone. We can pray for each other, shelter each other, teach each other, write books and lectures and tweets until we are blue in the face.
But unless the men in Christian circles recognize what part they are playing, unless Christian women DEMAND that these men take responsibility for their part and work with us to affect change, nothing much will happen.
I have seen lamentations from Christian men on social media, not realizing how pervasive the problem was, not realizing how many of their female friends had been harassed or assaulted.
Ok, so now you know. Ignorance is no longer an excuse.
Now you know that your Christian female friends have experienced sexual violations, often at the hands of men in your own Christian community.
Knowing all of this, what do you do now?
How you answer that question will determine what kind of world our daughters will inherit.