Recent accusations and allegations in the Hollywood community have illuminated with horrifying clarity the mistreatment and dehumanization of women within the very industry upon which we so frequently depend for compelling and life-giving stories. The scandal surrounding producer Harvey Weinstein is neither compelling nor life-giving. Quite the contrary, it is a narrative of brokenness that shines intense light on both sexist hierarchies and accommodated injustices. It is a methodical and long-standing moral failure that diminishes all of us, whether we realize it or not.
As a male, it is sometimes difficult for me to discern the most meaningful way for me to find my voice in a discussion like the one this scandal demands. My inability to understand the fullness of what it means to be a woman in our world, coupled with my fear of sounding like a privileged observer who is way out of his depth, makes me somewhat reluctant to say anything at all. Silence in the face of injustice, however, is precisely the kind of response that permits the perpetuation of the kinds of environments that men like Harvey Weinstein have enjoyed for so long. As awkward as finding a voice in these conversations can be, silence is simply not a moral option.
And so, I speak. I speak with a penitent heart and a grieved spirit. I speak with a re-awakened anger, a re-engaged sadness, and a re-energized vision for redeemed relationships. I speak through groans too deep for words, trusting in the Holy Spirit to carry my feeble articulations to the heart of God as the petitions that they should be.
I speak through a desperate and broken prayer.
For what am I praying?
I am praying that the hearts of all people (women, men, and youth), are meaningfully broken and outraged whenever women are objectified, dehumanized, and violated by any language or behavior that perpetrates a violence against women and against the sacred image of God that women so uniquely bear. Whether in the locker room or the living room, the church hallway or the workplace, such language and behavior corrupt our relationships and disfigure our shared humanity. If we wink at it, make light of it, or ignore it altogether, our hearts become colder and harder to one another’s personhood and to the supernatural love that God created us to manifest. I believe this with all of my being.
I am also praying a prayer of repentance for the way in which the church (of all denominations) has all too frequently reinforced and perpetuated the mistreatment and undervaluing of women through silence, through institutionalized misogyny, and through a stubborn refusal to subordinate distorted understandings of masculinity and femininity to the transforming Way of Jesus.
The repentance I am describing is deeply personal for me today as I spend a few moments looking at photographs of the women who have shaped my life through their love, integrity, and giftedness. I am thinking of my wife. My mother. My sister. My nieces and sisters-in-law. Teachers, Sunday School teachers, pastors, and friends who have mentored me and taught me what it means to be authentically human. As I celebrate the image of God that these women so beautifully reveal, I repent of the ways in which I contribute, wittingly and unwittingly, to an ethos of gender-driven mistreatment that might make it painfully difficult for these women I love—and all women—to live into the world-changing and countercultural community that Galatians 3:28 describes:
There is no longer Jew or Greek, there is no longer slave or free, there is no longer male and female; for all of you are one in Christ Jesus.
Therein lies my response as a male searching to find his voice in this heartbreaking but urgent conversation. My response is a deepening repentance, an escalated attentiveness to the stories and journeys of women, and an intensified commitment to being part of the cultural and ecclesiastical transformation that I desire.