A large part of this past week was consumed by a social movement in which many women (as well as some men) announced that they had been sexually abused, harassed or objectified by another person in their life. These statements where united by a single hashtag - #metoo - a category which quickly filled with a wide spectrum of abuse.
To take on this topic is to open oneself to angry criticism from all sides, so for this reason, I'd like to present some Scripture, which I hope will help us understand the God-given restoration given to those victimized.
First, we must acknowledge one fundamental truth: God hates the sin of sexual abuse. Psalm 11:5 tells us that "his soul hates the wicked and the one who loves violence." God does not turn a blind eye to the victim nor does he condone his actions. The heinous acts of abusers are a result of the sin they've allowed to control them.
It's here that those without faith in God stop, preferring to be angry over what has happened to them. Anger, I think, is a part of the process, but it's just that: a step in the process. We were never meant to stew in anger, shame, guilt or any of the other emotions that would have us flounder in our spiritual walk. We were meant for more.
Therefore, it's disheartening to me that there isn't a #metoo connotation that praises the actions of the victim who has realized his or her identity isn't defined by the hate-filled actions of another but by God's grace.
And, yes, I realize that I am asking a victim to surmount incredible pain, but not because the experience isn't life-altering but because God's restorative love can bring the person out of the pain. I can only empathize with who experienced the ultimate victimization of physical abuse. I've experienced harassment and blatant objectification, much of which I internalized and convinced myself was normal in the average workplace or organization. It's not, I would later learn from Scripture, and it should have no bearing on God's will for my life.
We shouldn't accept it, because God doesn't accept it.
It's not an instantaneous event, this healing, and I think we as believers - whether we've experienced victimization or not - should be advocates for victims of sexual abuse. We should be patient and encouraging throughout their healing. I cringe when I hear statements like, "You should just move past this" or "You have to trust people again" as if the pain can be erased by such simple concepts.
No matter what pain befalls, it's important for us to be reminded that our identity is in Christ, not by our personal pain.
Here's my favorite aspect of the process: Regardless of how much guilt and shame swells in the heart of the victim, it is no match for the power of God's grace. " [F]or whenever our heart condemns us, God is greater than our heart, and he knows everything." (I John 3:20, ESV) Regardless of the depth of your pain, God is greater.
Email Jamie H. Wilson at firstname.lastname@example.org