Yep, it’s Valentine’s Day. I have a lot I could say about that, but nothing I care to at the moment.
Instead, all I can think about are very similar scandals that have rocked two communities of which I am apart. One involves a creative community and serious evidence of horrifically abusive behavior on the part of a known bad actor, the exact details are not something I need to share here. The other is a far more public thing, the report on sexual abuse among Southern Baptists in Texas.
That one pulls the rug out from under all the protestants who have pointed to the abuse scandals that have ripped through the Catholic church. Apparently it has nothing to do with celibacy or the “evils” of the church of Rome.
It does, however, have everything to do with bad theology. It has everything to do with the dehumanization of women.
It has to do with the belief that women are spiritually inferior.
It has to do with the belief that women are temptresses and the source of sin.
It has to do with the belief that women exist solely for the production and care of children.
It has to do with the belief that it is acceptable to sexualize and belittle women as objects.
It has to do with a deeply flawed theology that has elevated social norms above the standards of love,grace, and equality found in the New Testament. It has to do with a deeply flawed exegesis that learns the wrong lessons from ancient metaphors. It has to do with ecclesiastical traditions that have given un-Christian power to those who should have the most accountability.
It has to do with the horrors that men (and yes it is mostly men and I can speak for my own gender) do in the name of Love.
Love does not manipulate you or try to control you, even for” your own good.”
Love does not isolate you from others.
Love does not blame you for the violence done to you.
Love does not threaten you.
Love does not make unreasonable demands.
Love does not make you doubt yourself or blame yourself or hurt yourself.
Love does not praise and belittle at the same time.
Love does not treat you like property.
Love does not act for its own interests.
This is hard. I cannot do it justice. We have a culture that puts women in certain roles. Not all of them are bad, but all of them are corrupted. We have all participated in a system that fails to see women in particular but all humans in general as less than valuable. We do it to each other, we do it to ourselves.
It is time to grow up. It is time for men to stop acting like toddlers, I wont say “boys” because boys need to stop it too. It is time for women to speak up about inappropriate behavior and to not just accept it. It is time for men to believe them. It is time for us, all of us, to stop being accessories to abuse, enslavement, and murder. It is time for us to accept the love and grace of Christ and to move past our mistakes into maturity.
All of this has nothing to do with Love but a lot to do with sex. It is not about emotions it is about power. Power tends to corrupt, and so our relationships have been corrupted.
Here is a little secret. Fear keeps the system going. Fear of the consequences if we step out of line, but they cannot stop us all. The many have power that the systems cannot contain if we will just let go of our fear.
Perfect Love drives out Fear. The Truth shall set you Free.