Christians should seek to redefine assault
Christian community exists without fear, judgement or shame—or so I thought. When it is what you are used to, one can easily look at a community with comfortable rose-colored glasses and ignore the disguised realities. The Christian community should not breed heart-wrenching pain and hide it in the shadows. However, many times, this remains the case. Often times, Christians hear the headlines regarding sexual assault and assume this problem does not affect those close to us. While we are a community of believers redeemed by God and trying to reflect his love for others, we are first fallible human beings before we are Christians. Sometimes, the unthinkable happens and when it does, the Christian community needs to step up and take part in solving the problem of sexual assault.
IGNORANCE IS NOT BLISS
Due to the stress placed on purity in the church, many Christian youth find it more challenging to recognize assault when they personally experience it. Rather than teaching about the possibilities of assault, conservative worldviews shelter youth for the sake of protecting their purity. Purity is important, but being raised in a community that so heavily emphasizes purity can lead to the idea that one is devalued through assault. With this disparity in the Christian community, these individuals may not know they were assaulted until months or years later, which enhances feelings of a survivor’s guilt and shame. As a result, questions regarding self-blame, loss of worth and the proper response to assault occur. The Christian community must change the tone of its conversation regarding sex, shame and purity. We need to wake up as a community and realize assault happens in our community. We need to advocate for those who do not understand what it means to be assaulted and to take away the fear of judgement and condemnation survivors might feel during their healing.
Advocating for the hurting can take many forms, one of which was a recent event called the A21 Walk for Freedom, which raises awareness regarding human trafficking, slavery and assault. Hundreds of thousands of people gathered in many locations on Oct. 14, so their local communities would be forced to face the realities of these issues in our world. Biola students, including members of the Brave Voices club, took to the streets of Los Angeles to speak up for those who need a voice. These steps towards bringing light to the issues of trafficking and assault show us the responsibility the Christian community has to be a voice for those who are not in a place to speak up for themselves.
COMMUNE IN COMPASSION
The Christian community needs to fiercely love and protect those hurting from the actions of others. Let us open our arms for the brokenhearted and show them the unconditional love of God, which can mend the shatters of life that result from such a tragedy. May we have the courage to equip our community, as the current and future pastors, teachers, leaders and thinkers of our world, with the knowledge necessary for responding appropriately to an assault, the insight to listen to those who need to share their experiences, and passionate protectors of the brokenhearted. May we look to our friends, neighbors and Christian community at large, and realize that those around us might be in a place of healing after assault. May we love them well and show them the faithfulness of the love that God has for all.