I’m wading in deep philosophical waters this week… writing an essay and completing a project on serving the pastoral needs of victims of sexual violence. There is not an easy “cookbook” answer to this. You have raw, real pain — from the victim/survivor/thriver and the perpetrator/violator/offender, and everyone who knows about the event.
The problem is… sexual violence is the most under-reported crime in the world. According to the RAINN website, 60% of all sexual assaults are not reported to law enforcement. The violated do not want to have their integrity questioned or face their attackers in court. They don’t want to have to re-live and verbally explain what happened. They have already been violated. To have to “tell the world” as a matter of public record… well, it boggles my mind as I think of the courage it takes. Then there is the accused, who can be “framed” or can be ill… to be totally a writer of vengeance and not extend healing does not sit well with me.
I know that sexism, violence and abuse of power in relationships is a much larger social ill. I see the everyday attitudes of chauvinism in the church. I hear “jokes” (which are not funny, by the way) and I wonder at the cavalier attitude individuals can have towards those of the other gender.
I see the effects of sin, of brokenness. It makes me want to weep. I pray for healing and for increased awareness of the ways that our personal brokenness hurts every relationship we have. I pray for the capacity to effect change when I write, speak or preach.
Jeremy Camp wrote a song with healing lyrics… if it were embraced and lived out, what a world of difference…
You want to have virtue and purify your mind
You want to be set free today
Then lay it all down before the King
This is my desire, this is my return
This is my desire to be used by You
I am still thinking, writing, theologizing… and praying for friends and strangers affected by sexual violence. I am choosing to believe when God promises that one day there will be “no more pain” on this earth… I’ve never been much of a pie-in-the-sky promise-holder… but today, I am seeing the reason and need for hope and trust and faith that one day… it will all be made new again.
Then I saw “a new heaven and a new earth,” for the first heaven and the first earth had passed away, and there was no longer any sea. I saw the Holy City, the new Jerusalem, coming down out of heaven from God, prepared as a bride beautifully dressed for her husband. And I heard a loud voice from the throne saying, “Look! God’s dwelling place is now among the people, and he will dwell with them. They will be his people, and God himself will be with them and be their God. ‘He will wipe every tear from their eyes. There will be no more death’ or mourning or crying or pain, for the old order of things has passed away.”