To all those who suffer, Jesus says #METOO
Emmanuel, the special name for Jesus that we sing about at Christmastime, means “God with us.” Emmanuel is God incarnate, God coming to live with all the struggles that mark our lives, God as the least of these. From conception to death, Jesus lived in solidarity with our hunger, our suffering, and our need. Survivors read the story of Jesus with an eye for all the ways he suffered.
Emmanuel, God with us, willingly identified with the poor—the working poor, the devastatingly poor, the homeless, the displaced. We survivors read the Gospels and see that Jesus knows firsthand the poverty we face when we flee abusive relationships only to find ourselves and our children homeless, with nothing but the clothes on our backs. We recognize in Emmanuel the face of every refugee longing for home, living in squalor, haunted with memories of violence.
Oh, the deep, deep love that binds Jesus to us! Jesus is unwilling to separate himself from anything that we suffer. Jesus chose to experience even the pain of our sexual abuse...
The promise of healing, the promise of deliverance, and the promise of all things new are not just for someday in heaven. These promises are for God’s people today. We leave our shame at the cross of Christ, and we know that nothing can separate us from his love. We offer our lives as a witness to the deep love of Christ, from whom our healing flows.
(Above are excerpts from We Were The Least of These: Reading the Bible with Survivors of Sexual Abuse by Dr. Elaine Heath.)
What Does the United Methodist Church believe about Sexual Abuse, Sexual Assault, and Sexual Harassment?
(from our Social Principles of The Book of Discipline of The United Methodist Church - 2016. Copyright 2016 by The United Methodist Publishing House.)
Violent, disrespectful, or abusive sexual expressions do not confirm sexuality as God’s good gift. We reject all sexual expressions that damage the humanity God has given us as birthright, and we affirm only that sexual expression that enhances that same humanity. We believe that sexual relations where one or both partners are exploitative, abusive, or promiscuous are beyond the parameters of acceptable Christian behavior and are ultimately destructive to individuals, families, and the social order. We deplore all forms of the commercialization and exploitation of sex, with their consequent cheapening and degradation of human personality. To lose freedom and be sold by someone else for sexual purposes is a form of slavery, and we denounce such business and support the abused and their right to freedom.
We call for strict global enforcement of laws prohibiting the sexual exploitation or use of children by adults and encourage efforts to hold perpetrators legally and financially responsible. We call for the establishment of adequate protective services, guidance, and counseling opportunities for children thus abused.
We believe human sexuality is God’s good gift. One abuse of this good gift is sexual harassment. We define sexual harassment as any unwanted sexual comment, advance, or demand, either verbal or physical, that is reasonably perceived by the recipient as demeaning, intimidating, or coercive. Sexual harassment must be understood as an exploitation of a power relationship rather than as an exclusively sexual issue. Sexual harassment includes, but is not limited to, the creation of a hostile or abusive working environment resulting from discrimination on the basis of gender.
Contrary to the nurturing community, sexual harassment creates improper, coercive, and abusive conditions wherever it occurs in society. Sexual harassment undermines the social goal of equal opportunity and the climate of mutual respect between men and women. Unwanted sexual attention is wrong and discriminatory. Sexual harassment interferes with the moral mission of the Church.
Sexual assault is wrong. We affirm the right of all people to live free from such assaults, encourage efforts of law enforcement to prosecute such crimes, and condemn rape in any form. It does not matter where the person is, what the person is wearing, whether or not he or she is intoxicated, if he or she is flirtatious, what is the victim’s gender, or any other circumstance.