If you haven't heard of it yet, I want you to simply search #MeToo on one of your news feeds.
As you hear the stories of men and women who have been sadly victimized by another person exerting their selfishness on someone else, it pains you. I know I've personally been disappointed by the actions of even pastors I've looked up to and respected from a distance. Pastors who I've listened to, attended their conferences, and wanted to glean what I could from them.
In the end, I was saddened by the accusations, their actions, and how it impacted the people they harmed as well as the Christian community they represented.
As Christians, we cannot stay silent when it comes to abuse, gender inequity, and the harm it has caused people. However, it is important also to reflect on how God would have us respond. How he would inspire and encourage us to lean into one another while the world so desperately makes it seem as if men and women should be so far apart.
No words can even express the pain that has been caused. However, my prayer is that as Christians we can breath life into situations. Even situations that seem incredibly unfair. Here are some reflections on God's design and our role as we navigate our cultural settings.
1. men and women need one another.
In the book of Genesis (the story of how things began), we are introduced to Adam. This is the first man that God reveals to us. In fact, the Bible makes it clear that he was created by God. As we see in Genesis 2, Adam had dominion over everything. He had rule over the animals, plants, and all that was created. He was put in that place to care for and look after all that God had created.
Just think for a second. Adam had EVERYTHING. He had the entire world at his fingertips.
As we reflect on our own lives and the lives of others, we must be brutally honest about something. If we are to feed our selfish desires, then we are truly saying we want to have the world at our fingertips. We want EVERYTHING. And if we are to continue to feed that selfish desire, we will do whatever it takes to get what we want.
However, the passage does not end with Adam simply having the world at his fingertips and then living happily ever after. No. In fact, it continues on to show that Adam was in fact still missing something. A companion.
"Then the Lord God said, 'It is not good for the man to be alone. I will make a helper who is just right for him.'" - Genesis 2:18 NLT
Loneliness is not a good thing.
From working on a project at work to being in the home, it is better to be in community with others than to be on your own. God knew this. So, he created not only man but also woman.
This is a picture of what we should seek as we strive to live more and more God-honoring lives. In a world that so desperately wants us to believe men and women don't need one another, the reality is—we do. In fact, we are better together.
The problem is that we haven't been setting the greatest example of how to compliment one another well.
2. selfishness breathes death into our relationships.
In Genesis 3, we see what has been come to be referred to as "the fall." This is where Adam and Eve eat of the forbidden fruit. They eat from the one tree God asked them to not eat from. In the situation, God wanted to give mankind free will. He didn't want them to simply be puppets. So he allowed for them to make decisions. Yet they wanted to desperately have more than they had. They wanted to know more. So they ate of the forbidden fruit.
In the verses that follow, we see how this led to the punishment for all mankind. The punishment of death. This is a reality that we still are confronted with today. People are born and people die. We can thank Adam and Eve for that.
At the root of their decision was selfishness. They wanted to gain more knowledge and wisdom and did not count the cost for you and me today. They thought of themselves.
As we see people abuse their role, power, or privilege today, we see the same thing. A thinking of one's own self over the good of the people around them. This is why we are no different from Adam and Eve. This is why in a world where we should be able to get along, treat one another fairly, and not cause harm, we still do. We do it when we put our own self first.
Whenever we act in a selfish way, we breathe death into the situation. As followers of Jesus, we are called to breathe life.
So how do we respond? Where do we look? My argument is to look at the example of Jesus.
3. jesus breathes fairness into unfair situations.
In John 8, we are introduced to a powerful example of how Jesus treated women in his day. The religious leaders brought to him a woman who had been caught in adultery. They challenged him with the law. The law that states she should be put to death. However, at the same time, Jesus had been talking about grace and forgiveness. They knew that this would challenge him. How Jesus responded was not only marvelous, but it leaves us with a great example to follow.
First off, the situation was unfair. The law that was referred to is Leviticus 20:10. It states, "If a man commits adultery with his neighbor's wife, both the man and the woman who have committed adultery must be put to death."
Yet, they only brought the woman. Not the man. From the very beginning, the situation was unfair.
As they peppered Jesus with questions, he simply remained silent, drew in the sand, and was patient. The first lesson here is that it's better to wait a while, to take things in, to think before we act. Jesus could have responded immediately, but he didn't—he paused.
He then made a fantastic statement. "All right, but let the one who has never sinned throw the first stone!"
From there, the people began to disperse, knowing they themselves were sinners.
Yet Jesus did not stop there. He waited for the crowd to leave and when they did, he went one step further. He looked at the woman and had this beautiful dialogue where he restored her. He gave her purpose and value.
In the same way, Jesus wants to give us purpose and value despite our shortcomings.
In the weeks ahead, we will reflect on how we can continue to have healthy relationships with the opposite gender. We will look at how we can truly live better together.
When the accusers heard this, they slipped away one by one, beginning with the oldest, until only Jesus was left in the middle of the crowd with the woman. Then Jesus stood up again and said to the woman, “Where are your accusers? Didn’t even one of them condemn you?”
“No, Lord,” she said.
And Jesus said, “Neither do I. Go and sin no more.”
- John 8:9-11 NLT