In light of recent events in our nation and in response to a concern raised that the #MeToo movement is becoming a permission-giving movement where false accusations can be spread with intent to harm, I share this:
No movement, #MeToo or otherwise, dare I say no behavior, should EVER be lived with an intent to cause another person harm. And the #MeToo movement, in its creation, was not developed to give people permission to cause such harm. It is meant to bring people together with similar trauma histories in order to remind them that they are not alone and to remind the rest of us that our nation, our world, is in need of significant change in order to bring us to a place where we truly love one another as God intends… which sadly is not the experience of many in our nation today.
Many women and men are denied this experience of abundant love because of the overwhelmingly abusive power presenting as systemic misogyny and racism that are at the heart of much of our nation and its leadership today, both locally and nationally. And we see this most often when our neighbors begin to step out of the shadows and name the violence/discrimination/oppression they endure. We’ve seen it with Black Lives Matter, March for our Lives and now with #MeToo.
Jesus saw through this abuse of power in his time. He surrounded himself with those whom his culture continually brushed aside. He named to those in power the extent to which they had abused their positions and caused harm to their community and God’s beloved children. And then, Jesus in instructions to his disciples and to anyone with ears to hear, passed on the same instructions to us today. We are to love one another as God intended. This means listening when someone names how they have been harmed. This means being present for those who have endured abuse. This means taking a hard look at the system, the institution that has been created and decide whether or not it is in line with that which God envisioned for us. And if not… we must do everything in our faith and in our power to correct it.
Too many of our neighbors are being re-traumatized because people are unwilling to believe that someone would be capable of doing something so horrible. And we, as the church, as followers of Jesus Christ, must stand up against that ignorance and help to bring the truth to light.
Claiming to be a Christian is probably one of the more difficult things to do in our world today… because it means living according to a faith which is often at odds with our culture. Unfortunately, we are seeing this more and more in our world today. And as I’m sure that God weeps at this reality… I weep as well.
Despite (or perhaps because of) knowing how difficult that could be, I recommit myself, and invite you to do the same, to live according to the faith which God instills in us… to do justice, to love unconditionally those whom we know and those whom we’ve yet to meet, and to walk humbly with the God who dreams of a world where peace can finally be experienced. Until that day, we must do as Jesus commands… to speak the truth to power and pray that our love of neighbor helps to bring about the necessary healing in our world.
The Rev. Timoth Sylvia is the Senior Minister at Newman Congregational Church UCC in Rumford, RI.