And, the church has been complicit, hiding sexual abuse and not valuing women as much as men.
As it turns out, this isn’t just a Hollywood problem, a politics problem, a church problem or even an American problem. It’s a people problem—and all of us are a part of it.
If we want to truly engage in our culture and speak truth to power, acknowledging this and looking for ways to prevent the mistreatment of women is key.
First, we can’t let the culture at large affect our understanding of the value God places on women.
Looking at the life and legacy of Jesus Christ, we can see clearly God’s heart for all his people—female and male—and desire that they should come to know him. Yet some twist their views of women and see them as existing for the gratification of men.
In other words, women are not tools for men, they are people, worthy of dignity and respect, for they are made in the image of God.
We can’t allow their toxic thought patterns to seep into our communities and change the way we understand the role the Lord has designed for women to play in this world.
Second, as believers, we can’t allow any single man to possess absolute power within the church.
We all need accountability, but looking at the nature of sexual harassment and assault throughout our country, there seems to be one single common thread: unaccountable men. While certainly upsetting, this shouldn’t really surprise us.
Lord Acton’s saying “absolute power corrupts absolutely” rings true here. Whether we’re dealing with pastors, elders or Sunday school teachers, it is important we find ways to maintain structures of accountability within the church.
And, pastoral ministry can create a place for unaccountable power, where a charismatic leader is answerable to no one. The result is consistently disastrous.
Of course, accountability won’t keep everything from happening, but that does not mean we don’t need such accountability. We do.
Third, as I have written many times, we need to listen to victims and stand with them.
As I wrote last week, our churches are to be safe havens for those who have been victimized and mistreated. Anything less and we let down our God who called us to stand up for those the marginalized, the abused, the broken.
We are called to stand with every woman who has had her life turned upside down by the hands of another.
Fourth, it is critical that we support one another as believers and hold each other accountable as brothers and sisters in Christ.
If we’re serious about preventing sexual assault and harassment in our churches, we need to speak up in love when we see behaviors that look suspicious or inappropriate. This is not an attempt to be overly critical or corrective, but instead a way that we can all care for each other—and particularly, the women— in our church communities.
Make no mistake—these issues are vast and complex. There is no easy, quick fix to a widespread cultural problem: the abuse and exploitation of women at the hands of unaccountable men. God’s good plan for their lives does not include the kinds of harassment and violent assault that have become so commonplace these days.
As the church works together to make a better way for women in our communities, we are motivated first and foremost by Christ’s care for all his children—male and female. Although we might not see it this side of heaven, ultimately, we long for the day when the perpetuation of these harmful behaviors and practices will come to an end.
This article originally appeared here.