Complicit No Longer

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There has been too much hurt, too much pain inflicted this past week, not just on one but on so many. In response to that, I offer you the words I shared with our congregation during worship last Sunday morning. I give thanks for the many voices this week who helped shape these thoughts:

I suspect for many of us what is happening at the Supreme Court nomination hearings in Washington have weighed on our minds and our hearts this week. Not for political reasons – although it may be that for some. But because the world, once again, doesn’t feel safe for so many of us. Because we are reminded that our worth and our integrity are all too easily called into question when they conflict with the desires and the needs of the people who control the narrative.

As a woman, I live in constant awareness of how unsafe the world can be for me – never walking anywhere or at any time without being aware of my surroundings. Paying attention to who else is walking near me, where can I seek safety if I need to, who might be in need of my help as an ally in their struggle to be safe, and will I be believed if I need to seek help or will I be somehow blamed for it …
Also, as a pastor, it is my honor to journey with people through life and, sometimes, I’m entrusted to help carry their deepest sorrows – sorrows that, for many, have been dredged up this week.

I am aware that for too long the church as been seen as turning a blind eye to sexual violence – and there are women and men and other-gendered persons hurting from that, perhaps in this room with us today.

This is beyond the spectacle playing out in Washington. This is about living in community together. And so today I am called to name …
• that loving one’s enemies does not mean giving a pass on sexual violence
• that race, class, age, religion, political party, education, profession, and social status have no bearing on whether someone commits sexual harassment or violence. It happens all the time, everywhere.
• that our social understandings of “flirtation” and “consent” and “just a joke” and “boys will be boys” – and the message that it sends to men and the message that it sends to women and the message it sends to other-gendered persons is so incredibly damaging
• that by not speaking out explicitly against sexual harassment and sexual violence, the church has become complicit with societal norms which shame and silence survivors, and protect perpetrators

So, today I say:
If you have suffered from sexual violence – “I see you. I hear you. I believe you. I will listen.”
And, as a community of faith, together we will continue to work to make this a safe place for each of us, and for all of us, to be who we are with the image and likeness of God as our guide.

Journeying together,
Pastor Suzanne

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