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Another day, another bombshell. Garrison Keillor, the former host of A Prairie Home Companion and longtime cultural icon, says he’s been fired by Minnesota Public Radio over allegations of improper behavior. And rapper Jay-Z admitted that he has cheated on his wife, Beyoncé.
This after Matt Lauer’s firing yesterday by NBC News stunned America. The list of powerful men facing allegations of sexual misconduct continues to grow by the day.
Media coverage has centered on these men and their actions. However, I have seen much less attention given to women who are the victims of such abuse. As a result, I will focus on them today.
As a man, I cannot comprehend what it is like for women to experience and disclose sexual abuse. But I can offer three biblical responses to their pain.
Your courage is to be applauded.
Megyn Kelly’s response to Lauer’s firing was especially powerful. After showing video of Today show anchors Savannah Guthrie and Hoda Kotb responding to the news, she replied: “I see the anguish in my colleagues’ faces. When this happens, what we don’t see is the pain on the faces of those who found the courage to come forward. It is a terrifying thing to do.”
She explained: “We don’t see the career opportunities women lose because of sexual harassment, or the intense stress it causes a woman dealing with it when she comes to work each day. I am thinking of those women this morning, hoping they are OK.
“The days to come will not be easy. We are in the middle of a sea change in this country, an empowerment revolution, in which women who for years felt they had no choice but to simply deal with being harassed at work are now starting to picture another reality, to feel that change is within their grasp.”
Kelly called recent disclosures of sexual abuse “a sign of progress, of women finding their voices, their courage, and of the erosion of a shameful power imbalance that has been in place for far too long.”
To those who choose such courage: know that your sacrifice is making a real difference. God wants you to “not grow weary of doing good, for in due season we will reap, if we do not give up” (Galatians 6:9). He invites you to “be strong in the Lord and in the strength of his might” (Ephesians 6:10).
You deserve to be treated with dignity.
Chris Legg is lead pastor at South Spring Baptist Church in Tyler, Texas, and a professional Christian counselor. He and I corresponded yesterday on our topic. Here was his response, a paraphrase from Gavin de Becker’s book, The Gift of Fear:
“The most common greatest fear for women is being assaulted by a man. Most women make dozens of decisions a day to avoid putting themselves in a situation to be physically harmed by men. The most common greatest fear for men is feeling rejected by a woman. Most of us make just as many decisions to avoid feeling like the women in our lives are rejecting us.”
Here’s how I would apply Chris’s insight to today’s subject: If a man fears rejection by a woman, he might act inappropriately out of a need to feel wanted. His action then substantiates her fear of abuse, causing her to withdraw further from him and exacerbating his fear of rejection. He then responds even more forcefully and the cycle continues.
This pattern helps explain why some men behave so inappropriately toward some women. Since such abuse is rooted in masculine insecurity, we are not surprised to find it throughout human history. From Amnon’s rape of Tamar (2 Samuel 13) to today’s revelations, this is a recurring and tragic pattern.
As a result, we need to say loudly and clearly: women deserve dignity. Every woman. Every day. Every time.
God created women in his image (Genesis 1:27). Husbands are to “love their wives as their own bodies” (Ephesians 5:28). We are to esteem our wives as “far more precious than jewels” (Proverbs 31:10).
Unwanted advances or inappropriate behavior of any kind is always wrong. Always.
God knows and cares.
Abuse victims often feel isolated and alone. But you’re not alone. The Lord of the universe knows your suffering (Proverbs 15:3). He grieves as you grieve and hurts as you hurt.
No matter how people treat you, your Father will always love you as his child. In fact, he often calls us his “adopted” children (Ephesians 1:5; Romans 8:14-17, 23). In the Roman empire, adopted children could never be disinherited. They would belong forever to their fathers.
So it is with you. The God of the universe applauds your courage, honors your dignity, and loves you unconditionally.
Julian of Norwich, who wrote the first theological book in English to be authored by a woman, observed: “The greatest honor we can give Almighty God is to live gladly because of the knowledge of his love.”
Let’s “live gladly” today.
NOTE: Cynthia Yanof is the brand manager for Christian Parenting, a ministry of Denison Forum. She is also the mother of JB, her newly adopted son.
For National Adoption Awareness Month, which ends today, she has written about her family’s experience with adoption. Her story is both powerful and compelling. I urge you to read it and to share it with others.
As you do, remember that God loves you even more than Cynthia loves her new son. And know that he is calling us to share his love with those who need it most.