I think that I speak for many when I suggest that this November 8, 2016 will not come soon enough. Many may be looking forward to waking up November 9 and going about our business knowing that we will continue as usual.
Not that I think political elections are unimportant—I do. I know that this is an important part of being in a democracy and a gift we are blessed with in this country. I believe that all of us feel these elections are important—however it many times seems that the process preceding the election is what frustrates us.
As a Christian leader I have never tried to push anyone to vote for a certain candidate. While I may speak out on issues that I feel are Biblical (such as raising the minimum wage, affordable health care, freedom of religion and individual’s choices, and justice matters) I have felt compelled to encourage people to vote for who they wish to choose.
This brings me to November 9.
What are we going to do November 9? We will have to move past the political jargon and work as a nation, state, city, and community. Even more, faith communities will have to move forward and promote unity, peace, and hope in a world that may continue to carry the political rhetoric forward. We will need to create safe spaces for those who agree to disagree. If one of the major party candidates wins, the other party will have to move forward and work for the good of all of us.
However, one issue will continue to be a major threat to our country, our communities, and our faith communities. Men’s violence against women will be at the forefront of November 9—as it has been throughout this election and in our culture. If we have a female president, will men treat her with respect (that all women deserve) that the highest political office demands? If we have a male president, will we support the women accusing him of harassment and sexual assault, as well as the legal process that seeks justice for victims? I know that some might think this is judgmental but remember, we went through the same thing with Bill Cosby and the Dugger family. We know the routine and the results—it is inevitable. We blamed the victims then, but once the charges stuck we dropped the matter.
We have operated with “Yes but…” language for far too long. We have been stating that our choice is the “lesser evil.” On November 9th, we cannot continue as a country (or as faith communities) to do that. Turning one’s head to injustice not only is an abomination to God, it removes God’s blessings. We cannot sing “God Bless America” unless we confront oppression, injustice, and abuse. To do that is what Jesus called “hypocrisy.”
On November 9 we will not only live with the choice, but will have to live with “Yes and…” language. Men’s violence against women, sexual assault, consent, and how women are treated or validated in this country will continue to be a major concern.
As a representative and leader in the faith community I have written, spoken, preached, taught, and mentored many others concerning how we confront those who oppress women. For me, it is not just a personal matter—it is a command from God. I believe that faith communities MUST (and I emphasize MUST) lead our communities by addressing men’s attitudes concerning females. It is probably the single biggest challenge God has given us in modern culture. It is not only the root of multiple evils in our world, but it has become a way of life. So much that we not only turn our heads and laugh off the issue, we allow others who do this to lead us. We all have a higher calling—and it involves courage.
There is an interesting story in the book of Acts. The Apostle Paul was imprisoned by a Roman governor Felix, while awaiting trial by the government. Six years earlier Felix had fallen in love with a 13 year old Jewish girl named Drusilla. She was married to an Arabian ruler named Gaius Julius Azizus. Azizus loved Drusilla enough to become circumcised for her. However Felix persuaded her to leave her husband. He was a man in power, and Azizus had no option to fight back. This scandal followed Felix into the history books and he was viewed as a man who used his power to manipulate others.
Thinking Paul might be uncomfortable in prison and willing to pay bail to live in a normal apartment, he would meet and visit with this Apostle. In Acts 24:24-27 Paul would continually talk with Felix concerning righteousness, the judgment of God, and self control. The third word referenced sexual self control. Imagine Paul staring at Felix reminding him that his sexual indiscretions were offensive to him and God. Obviously Paul was more concerned with honesty, integrity, and sexual self control than comfort. Felix left him in prison.
If you think I am taking sides I am referring to both parties. Many years ago I remember watching our president (t the time), on television, read Psalm 51 and confess his sexual sin with an intern. He was surrounded by black pastors who placed their hands on him and offered forgiveness. That is where I believe clergy need to be; not only forgiving but calling for public repentance.
Today faith communities have the same responsibility. November 9 will remind us that we have a role in our communities. We must openly, courageously, faithfully, and honestly address men’s violence against women, misogyny, and oppression as a doctrine in our congregations. We MUST confront this issue in the coming months and years. That is the calling for all of us!