A friend told me how her father abandoned her family in the late 1950’s. She was just a little girl. He vanished from their lives, never paid a dime to help, and acted like they never existed. My friend’s mom did the best she could, but it was a struggle. Because of her church’s dogmatic teaching, she never filed for divorce, never considered finding companionship with another husband, and just accepted her lonely lot. She assumed that the only two choices were to stay single for the rest of her life or to dishonor God.
My friend loves her mom and respects her humility. But she also wonders how things might’ve been different if her mom would’ve known what the Bible actually says: “Abandonment is grounds for divorce.” (I unpack this tough topic in a sermon I preached on 2/10/19). Divorce is never good, but sometimes it’s the lesser of two terrible options. Jesus knew it would be necessary sometimes because of the “hardness of hearts.” And Jesus knew His Spirit could bring healing, hope, and help to those scarred by the realities of broken marriages.
It makes me wonder: what if the church, rather than Woodstock culture, powered the revolution that sought to elevate women’s rights in the 60’s? What if the entire movement was shaped by the way Jesus treated women? All of this leads me to ponder #MeToo.
From Jesus to #MeToo
I’m glad #MeToo came. I’m thankful there’s a growing chance that perpetrators like Harvey Weinstein will no longer be able to victimize people – at least not without severe consequences. I’m encouraged to see churches, schools, businesses, and politicians held accountable.
Of course, a movement like this won’t always be healthy. False accusations will bear more weight. Innocent people might pay the price. Because the stakes are so high, I hope Christians will engage and steer the movement in healthy ways. It seems like something Jesus might’ve done.
Imagine if Matthew, Mark, Luke, and John would’ve used hashtags to describe Jesus’ activism:
A Biblical way to pronounce #MeToo is Imago Dei. All people are made in the image of God, so every person on the planet is unfathomably precious to God. Nothing can take that way – not their gender, not their ethnicity, and not even their mistakes. Embracing Imago Dei means I am valuable, but it doesn’t mean I’m more valuable than you or anyone else. It needs to be #MeToo or #SheToo, not #MeOnly or #WeBetter.
From #MeToo to Jesus
One complaint against Christianity is that it’s too sexually restrictive. For five decades the broader culture declared: “God should stay out of people’s bedrooms, lives, and preferences.” Some of this was a natural pushback against overbearing moralism, while much of it was grounded in the oldest of human impulses – the disastrous desire to be our own god. “No Rules (that I don’t like) Allowed! No Sexual Ethic!”
Then came #MeToo. Suddenly, although often clumsily, the larger culture is saying, “OK, maybe some stuff is bad. Maybe we need some rules.” And then we hit another snag: who decides what those some rules are?
Politicians? (Oh goodness, I hope not.)
Mob Mentality? (It works great as long as you are currently in the mob.)
My Opinion? (I see a fight brewing.)
And here’s where Christians have an opportunity to share God’s love for the world. Maybe the talking points could be something like this:
- I’m thankful for #MeToo and I want it to be a healthy movement.
- Jesus demonstrated #MeToo. Share examples.
- Who gets to decide all of the #MeToo rules?
- I have a crazy idea. Are you willing to hear me out?
- We’ve come to the conclusion that we need some sort of sexual ethic. But we’re entering a crisis because we have no clue how to determine it. So what if Jesus wasn’t being overly restrictive? What if the sexual ethic he gave was actually freeing? What if it elevated the value of every person? What if it elevated the deepest desires of humans to be loved, able to experience the security of commitment and intimacy of oneness? What if it protected us from the destruction we heap on ourselves? What if it promoted safety for women, protection for children, compassion for men, and flourishing for all? What if the answers to our questions have been there all along? We know Jesus’ life communicated the value of women; maybe his teachings on love and marriage do the same.
I believe God is good. I invite you to discover how much he loves you. He even loves you so much that he gave some instructions on how to live. I’m thankful.
You’ve been reading with Brian Jennings. This article was originally published on Brian’s blog, check it out at brianjenningsblog.com. Read a free chapter from his book Dancing in No Man’s Land to learn how to move with peace and truth in a hostile world.