I’m joining in the viral conversation of #YesAllWomen because the stories are abundant but movements toward a solution are few.
** Warning: Graphic Language. Read on aware. **
When I was 17, my heart was broken by the guy I loved and I drank at a party and the friend I asked to care for me instead took advantage of me. Date rape is ridiculously common. #YesAllWomen #HeTookEverything
When I was 18, I was walking down the middle of a street in Paris, France on a beautiful September morning with two friends. A man leaning against a building bent forward as I walked past and swiped my breast from armpit to nipple and grinned about it to his two laughing friends. I didn’t know what to do. #YesAllWomen #ItWasaBriefTouch
When I was 19, in a shopping mall in Dallas, Texas a store manager whispered to me he would give me a large discount on the items I was considering buying if I would let him film me masturbating. He promised he wouldn’t touch me, that he just wanted to watch. I left horrified, feeling deeply violated. #YesAllWomen #HeDidn’tHavetoTouchMe #WordsHavethePowerofDeath
When I was 21, I sat in a crisis pregnancy center room as the counselor and heard woman after woman tell snippets of life-story that involved a man taking advantage of her, abusing her, making unwanted advances, and all the shame and agony and suffering that lasted long after those evil moments. #YesAllWomen #MenWerethePerpetrators
By the time I was 25 I had learned that my Mom, my Aunts, some sisters, many friends… all had been violated to varying degrees at some point in their lives. Their stories were shocking. So unexpected… so unavoidable… so gut-wrenching and soul-splintering and shame-filling. The ones I don’t know a story for are FEW and probably only because we haven’t been able to share yet. #YesALLWomen
I completely understand why #YesAllWomen has gone viral on social media and the stories coming out through the pixilated silence are heartbreaking.
You know a sobering thought after reading story after story after devastating story? I have four daughters.
Is there any way to prevent #YesAllWomen? It is a globally acknowledged problem — but literally for the love of God let’s not just talk about it, tweet about it, and blog about it if anything can be done about it. Too much is at stake.
What about the literal millions of #YesAllWoman who, like me, want to be a part of the solution and not just the conversation?
How can we turn this around?
Radical problems require radical solutions. I have four.
Four Ways You Can Be A Part of The Solution:
1) Remember What Leads to Repentance.
The only way to stop the crimes and offenses is for there to be repentance: a true turning of actions, thoughts, ways.
Repentance is what those who use, misuse, and abuse women desperately need.
Those of us who have relationships with God have experienced the good news of grace and that the profound and radical truth is: Kindness leads to repentance. ~ Romans 2:4
While we accept that kindness for ourselves and are grateful for it, if we claim to live our lives following this God who we call Love and proclaiming His amazing grace, we must learn to apply it to others.
There’s the rub. What does kindness look like in these types of situations?
Am I saying that there should be no punishment, no consequences? Absolutely not. That would be another type of evil. We are told clearly that acquitting, or justifying, the guilty is detestable to the LORD (Proverbs 17:15)
One of the kindest things you can do for someone is to do whatever is in your power to stop them from hurting others. You’re not doing them any favors by letting them be destructive and commit evil.
So if you can bring a crime or offense to light — do so. And in cases of abuse if I were on a jury I would be kind and I would be loving by voting for appropriate consequences for the particular offense(s).
But another part of kindness is found in the second way we can be a part of stopping these crimes and it cannot be overlooked.
2) Stop Identifying the Perpetrators as Monsters.
There are countless tweets flying around with messages like this:
Lots of people have agreed with and accepted similar tweets as truth — indicating that they are being fair to the men who have not abused, taken advantage of, or violated women (#NotAllMen) but that everyone (men, especially) need to accept and agree that there is a percentage of men who have earned themselves a separate category from male or female: Monsters.
So, what about those “Monsters”?
Is what some men have done — their actions or inactions — evil, horrible, unspeakably heartbreaking, monstrous? Absolutely.
But when we take those words and label the person as a whole as entirely evil and monstrous we make a grave mistake, and we become a huge part of the recurring problem.
It is wrong to place sin on some type of scale, but we do this all the time. It’s not that we aren’t accurate about how incredibly evil some sins are, but rather that we are desensitized to others that are equally as abhorrent.
“For whoever keeps the whole law and yet stumbles at just one point is guilty of breaking all of it.” ~James 2:10
I paid a man to cut up my first baby and throw it away (abortion) and have not been rejected by our culture as evil and unredeemable, I can even speak about this publicly and be received with love and grace and even a desire to know what happened in my life that lead me to such a lost and unhealthy place.
But what about the guy who rapes a woman? What about the men who molest little girls? Are they unredeemable Monsters because they broke a different part of the law?
It is right to call them Lost or Sick or Diseased, but it is not accurate to call them Monsters.
When we label a perpetrator as a Monster, or any other label that God has not given them, we leave out the heart of the gospel: Grace.
The Lost have the Son of Man who came to seek and save them. (Luke 19:10) We may see them as a mere sheep or a single coin but God says they are worth tirelessly searching for.
The second part of helping to stop those who commit crimes against women is to see what the real problem is and name it accurately: they are lost, sick, diseased and in desperate need of help, kindness, grace.
If we don’t have an accurate read on a problem, we will never be able to discern a solution.
The truth is: No thing they have done in the past, no depth they have gone to — not even demons or death — can separate them from the love of God. (Romans 8:38-39)
Are we being messengers of the ministry of reconciliation that we were entrusted with? We are Christ’s ambassadors, as though God were making His appeal through us? (see 2 Corinthians 5:18-20)
Will we spread this word?: “But God demonstrates his own love for us in this: While we were still sinners, Christ died for us.” ~Romans 5:8
We are all first the prodigal and then we are all the older brother in the story. How will we act to those squandering their lives away in wild living?
If you’d like to read the story of the prodigal son you can find it here: starting in Luke 15, verse 11.
3) Pray for Them.
I’ll be honest — I don’t even remember to pray for my children unless God prompts me to. I can find it hard to love myself. It can be extremely challenging to be kind to my husband if I feel he’s been ungrateful for something I’ve done for him. So what God asks us to do for those who are enemies to us I find immensely radical:
“But love your enemies, do good to them, and lend to them without expecting to get anything back. Then your reward will be great, and you will be children of the Most High, because he is kind to the ungrateful and wicked.” (~Luke 6:35)
So praying for those who persecute me? I’m not mature enough for that. Not apart from God.
What Corrie Ten Boom wrote as she suffered through concentration camps and saw her sister abused sums this up well:
“Even as the angry vengeful thoughts boiled through me, I saw the sin of them. Jesus Christ had died for this man; was I going to ask for more? Lord Jesus, I prayed, forgive me and help me to forgive him…. Jesus, I cannot forgive him. Give me your forgiveness… And so I discovered that it is not on our forgiveness any more than on our goodness that the world’s healing hinges, but on His. When He tells us to love our enemies, He gives along with the command, the love itself.”
― Corrie ten Boom, The Hiding Place
What if we prayed for God to do a Saul-to-Paul conversion in each man who has abused, violated, or taken advantage of a woman?
They know the ins and outs of the sin they are caught up in, who better to come out of a lifestyle or a sin-cycle and address those still trapped in their issues?
He who has been forgiven much loves much.
Let’s pray big prayers for them.
We know that words have the power of death — we’ve experienced death in a thousand ways through them. We want to be life-speakers, life-bringers… so we must be wise and discerning in our response.
For every woman who tweets a story, there is a man who committed the act or said the words that wounded. How many of them do you think are reading these stories online?
What if all the stories on twitter looked like this?:
To the guy who raped me when I was drunk and vulnerable at 17 #YesAllWomen #YouAreRedeemable #YouAreLoved #RomansFive8
To the man who violated me by groping my breast and laughed with your friends about it #YesAllWomen #YouAreRedeemable #YouAreLoved #RomansFive8
To the man who embarrassed me and made me feel shameful and dirty by asking me to masturbate for you #YesAllWomen #YouAreRedeemable #YouAreLoved #RomansFive8.