As mother of an almost-teenage girl, as pastor of women who have survived sexual violence, as a former teenage girl with a story of my own, as a human being and person of faith reading Christine Blasey Ford’s account of sexual assault, I felt my heart both sink and ignite. Professor Blasey Ford’s story sounded too much like other stories I’ve known.
Christian faith has not often been on the forefront of speaking out against sexual violence or giving voice to those who have survived; in fact, the larger church has been known to perpetuate a mantle of secrecy, silence and shame.
In truth, our Christian faith is rooted in the imago dei, our belief that all are created in God’s image. Human life and sexuality are sacred. Jesus himself often went against his culture’s gender norms, honoring women as children of God. I give thanks that these understandings are not controversial at Western Church yet want to be clear:
- God cares about those who have survived sexual violence and abuse. Given the statistic that more than one in four women are rape survivors, we can assume an even larger number if we include all those, men and women, who have survived some sort of assault. If you find yourself among that number, know for certain that God hates what happened to you, that God’s heart is broken. When the church is silent about God’s love for those who share your experience, we are the ones not being faithful.
- God gives voice to those who are long-silenced. Whether their silence comes from fear of social consequences, shame of past experiences or anxiety about future vulnerability, we trust that God speaks particularly through those whose voices are often discredited. As a community of Christian faith, we believe the stories of women. Just as Jesus often told fearful disciples “Take heart” – have courage – we need ways of en-couraging one another to raise our voices. If you have been silenced, know that your story matters – to God and to us.
- God cares about the truth. God knows the truth of all of our hearts and lives and loves us through it all. Confident that nothing in all creation separates from the love of God, we can all embrace the truth of our lives and work for truth in our justice system, even on the floor of the Senate Judiciary Committee.
As we move towards Sunday, I you’ll join me in prayer for our nation and for all who have relived their own struggle in the story of Christine Blasey Ford. While Proverbs 31, this Sunday’s sermon text, has often been used to justify a narrower interpretation of what it means to be a “capable wife”, I look forward to reopening it with you to find a “woman of valor” – the fullness of humanity in feminine form. In the light from the passage, in the shadow of Blasey Ford’s difficult story and testimony, may we discover God still speaking.
Hoping for truth, and Christ’s peace be with you,