19 October 2017

#MeToo and the Christian.


I've heard a lot of opinions circulating with regard to this hashtag. For most, it appears to be--as it was intended--a call for awareness, a call for unity, and for some a call for courage. For some, however, it appears a mystery as to why a simple hashtag is garnering so much attention. This lack of understanding has even led some to openly ridicule, belittle or try to over-spiritualise its intent, or lack thereof. This same lack of understanding, though sincere, has moved some to dismiss the hashtag and simply call on fellow Christians to do more in challenging victims to act immediately and not hide behind their hashtags.

The problem is, a lot of the folks who are calling out the #metoo movement as frivolous haven't actually been there, and cannot begin to fathom the depth of shame the victims are dealing with. Cannot begin to fathom the depth of courage it took to type those two words for the world to see.  Cannot begin to fathom what the hashtag is accomplishing inside each of the victims who have posted. Will it change the problem on a global scale? Probably not. Will it change one, two or a multitude of victims and give them the courage to say, “I’m not living in silent shame anymore.”?  Yes.  So, please stop referring to it as a “failure” or “frivolous.” 

Christians want to help. I sincerely believe that. But they want to be the hero that swoops in and captures all the bad guys. They want to be the movers and shakers in the conversation of how to fix the problem. And I get that. I would love to do the same. But  can I tell you something? Even if every Christian were to rise up against this evil--the evil would still exist. We, as Christians in this life, cannot hope to expel this evil--that day will come when the Lord builds a new heaven and earth.

I would argue that the real heroes to most using this hashtag (or are working up the courage) are those people who, unbeknownst to the rest of the world, held them in the dark while they cried. Who held the punching pillow for them. The ones who pried the broken glass from their hands as they screamed to just feel alive again and whole. Those are the heroes. Those who showed these men and women love when they felt so dirty and unlovable.

As Christians, more often than not, the best we can do is offer love, understanding, a listening ear at first. Will we introduce them to the every lasting hope found in Christ?  Sure we will -- but that will take time before they are ready to listen.  But right now, we have this opportunity to be the encouragement to those who--maybe for the first time in their lives--moved through the shame to find their voice -even if for two words only: #metoo. It is the very first step in the healing process. That is HUGE. It's not a "fix"--that was never its intent. It's a step. A small one to those looking from the outside, but a HUGE step for those taking it.

Sexual abuse is so different from other crimes. It's not like a robbery, where you view a line-up, call them out, send them for a jury to convict and hope to get your stuff back. It's not that easy. You are changed for the rest of your life. There is a part of you that you will never get back. Healing comes, yes, but not without scars that weren’t your own doing. I’m convinced that most victims do not name names mostly because of fear, shame and/or false-guilt.  Sexual abuse victims are NOT just like other victims of crime and cannot be expected to simply follow a protocol. This was not a crime done against them. This was a crime done to them, to their very person. And if I could be so bold, the Church has played a role in discouraging victims from speaking up: 

  • "First we need to address your bitterness."
  • “PTSD? You can't have that. You're a Christian.”
  •  "What did you do to cause the perpetrator to stumble?"
  • “Are you trying to ruin a man of God?” 
  • and the list goes on.

Truth is, if Christians are looking for real change and a call to action in this movement, it may not come from the victims.  It may have to come from them. It may not be in the bold confrontation of perpetrators either, it may be a call to the dark and quiet corners with the hurting. Look around. See this for what it is and start helping by loving, listening and caring.  Please do not try to move in and tell a victim how to handle their grief, or what needs to be done. Be a hero to that one friend you know, not by “doing” but by simply “being.” Nothing more. They don’t want fixed. They want to be heard. They want to be validated. Sometimes, if they are further along in the healing process, they may just want to be held and allowed to fall apart, unhindered and unjudged. Love them.

"By this all people will know that you are my disciples, 
if you have love for one another." John 13:35

What will their next step look like? For some, it may be in the form of seeking a therapist or counsellor. For some it may be seeking justice. For others it may take some time to sort out a next step, or even see if they have the strength to take it just yet. But it’s not your step to take. It’s theirs. It's a journey. And no two journeys are alike.

Thank you Jonathan for being my hero.  Thank you for encouraging me in the baby steps and loving me when I was too weak to even take those. 

~ Michelle (#metoo)


  1. Thank you for your expressing the heart of the issue! Especially for those who can't articulate their grief, hurt, and/or sorrow! Isolation is a damaging tool and this allows those who are dealing with this issue to KNOW they are not alone! This is just the beginning in the healing process - hopefully this will motivate them to seek their own healing.

    1. Thank you for the encouragement. I had my own battle with fear just posting this. But my heart breaks for so many out there, men and women alike, who feel alone in this struggle. We're not alone. That knowledge alone is empowering!