We’re Complicit In Sexually Objectifying Her

Posted by on Thursday, Nov 16, 2017 in Blog | 0 comments

At one point or another, every woman must deal with the fact that her body is a problem. Isn’t that what we learn from the #METOO movement? Women face sexual objectification, assault, and rape in alarming numbers. Last year there was an outrage for a brief moment. There was hope that change was in the air. Finally, women’s voices heard and bodies appropriately honored. It wasn’t long-lived. The November 8, 2016 vote minimized us, silenced us, – or so it seemed. And as a woman of faith, the deafening silence by my male leaders left me feeling betrayed and disturbed. It’s been a year since Trump was elected, and once again I have a spark of hope. I contribute the outcry to be directly related to last year’s tape and election. Outraged women were silenced but even still the smoldering stayed. Last year‘s silence made way for this year’s cry of “ENOUGH!” I believe that’s what we’re observing with men like Bill O’Reilly, Harvey Weinstein, Louis C.K. and as I write – Roy Moore. But even with the loud outcry of “enough” I’m bothered by the silence or worse yet, support reported by my brothers of faith. I’ve been noodling on why they support men who objectify women. I choose to think the best and forgo the idea that perhaps they don’t think what’s being done to women as a very big deal. You know, the “boys will be boys” attitude. Rather I’m wondering if it’s because they truly believe the church doesn’t contribute to the sexual exploitation of women. They don’t have a dog in this fight because they protect women rather than sexual objectify them.” It’s time to rethink that! We, the Church, also teach that her body equals sex. We hosted a salon on body image and had women write on sticky notes the messages they received about their bodies from their mom, culture and the church. As we read them out loud you could feel the toxicity. What caught my attention, which I’m sure it’s due to the climate right now, was how the church is also complicit in sexualizing the female body. We don’t do it the same way as our culture, but it’s still very real and present. Here’s a sample of the women’s sticky notes.   Take note how every message relates to her body and men. Sex, purity, and marriage. Her body is a problem for her and for him! Just like those men being accused, we too see her body as sex. Whether she’s a temptress or frigid, she’s defined by her body. And although I’ve never had a man of faith sexually assault my body (there are women who...

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She’s Putting Us On Notice

Posted by on Tuesday, Nov 14, 2017 in Blog | 0 comments

Next April I’ll be in Israel teaching on women in the Bible.  One of the women I’m teaching on is Tamar (2 Samuel 13). Tamar was raped by her half-brother Ammon. She pleaded with him not to do it; she knew it would be her demise. In fact, she even suggested he go to their dad, King David, and ask for her hand in marriage. What does that say about her desperation? How many women ask their rapist to marry them? Immediately after he raped her he felt contempt towards her and instructed her to leave his room asap. Can you imagine your rapist looking at you like you violated him? As she left his room she ripped her clothes to let others know what happened to her. Her other brother, upon learning of her rape, instructed her to be silent. Have you ever had someone silence you? Voicelessness is an act of dehumanization. And what did her father do? In her culture, the father was to avenge the dishonor done to the family. As King, David was to obey the law and bring justice. He did nothing. Nothing! It’s like she kept getting violated over and over again. Violated. Discarded. Shamed. Ruined. Silenced. Ignored. Her story is the story of so many women throughout history. And obviously, it’s still our story -in America 1 out of 4 women is sexually assaulted. So when we read the headlines with names like Bill Cosby, Bill O’Reilly, Harvey Weinstein, Louis C.K., and now Roy Moore – as much as it feels like dominos falling – we must remember we are only seeing the tip of the iceberg. Over the weeks I have sat back and quietly waited. I’ve waited to see if we would brush this under the rug like we did when we elected President Trump. Last November many of us woke to learn that once again we’d been violated, discarded, silenced, and ignored. So I’ve been waiting. Waiting to see if those in power are willing to take a stand. For us, their sisters. There have been a few voices speaking out, like this morning when Russell Moore tweeted, “A church that worships Jesus stands up for vulnerable women and girls. A church that worships power sees them as expendable.” He couldn’t be more right. And what Tamar’s story conveys to God’s people is… Well, I’ll let you connect the dots. If we look at the book of 2nd Samuel we find: First 10 chapters are David’s successes and the rise of Israel. Last 10 chapters are David’s failures and the decline in Israel. In the middle is what some might call a Hebrew chiasm. Don’t freak out. It’s easy to understand....

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Sex, Power and Mixed Gendered Friendships

Posted by on Friday, Mar 20, 2015 in Blog | 5 comments

Last Monday night we had a salon discussion centered around the question, “Can men and women be friends?” (or does the sex thing always get in the way.) One man voiced that he thought sex always got in the way. A woman asked if power also played a part in why men and women aren’t friends (in corporate America or faith communities)? Approximately half of the people in the room had deep friendships with the opposite gender. It was acknowledged that sexual tension isn’t present in same-sex friendships where as it is in mix gendered friendships. Although, I argued we have to content with the fact that same-sex attractions also exist. I wondered what’s missing when only one gender is present (in our work place and faith communities?) We discussed the one another’s in Scripture: How do we live them out as brothers and sisters? Love one another, carry one another’s burden, encourage one another, wait on one another, comfort one another, mourn with one another, accept one another, rejoice with one another, etc. Have you ever read the Scriptures with the lens of “How do I carry this out with the other gender of faith?” It’s an interesting question. What do you think? Can we be friends? How does sex and or power play a role in how we answer it? And why are we asking it at all? What difference does our answer make? What is impacted by how we answer?...

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You Can Make a Difference

Posted by on Wednesday, Apr 16, 2014 in Blog | 0 comments

A few simple suggestions given at the 2nd Annual Gender Justice Film Festival You too can do to make a difference in the lives of sexually exploited girls and women. 1. Support the Strengthening the Child Welfare Response to Trafficking Act of 2013. 2. Contact Mike Gwartney, volunteer at NFNL mgwartney@gmail.com, and to learn how to initiate change in your company’s HR policies.  i.e. New Friends New Life commission the HR Initiative “Employees are strictly prohibited from viewing pornography, sending pornographic jokes or stories via email, or attending sexually oriented businesses in connection with company business.  The company will not reimburse employees for such activities.  Employees will be subject to discipline, up to and including termination of employment, for engaging or participating in such sexually oriented activities.” By the way –  the proceeds from the Gender Justice Film Festival, $1060.00 went to NFNL. Together we can make a difference in the lives of sexually exploited girls and women. (I’m not the best photo taker but we loved our time at the film festival. And a shout out to John Thorpe and his fellow police officers for taking their night out to talk with us.)  ...

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Conversation About Our Bodies

Posted by on Thursday, Apr 10, 2014 in Blog | 1 comment

Last night over 200 women gathered to talk about body image. A third of the women were young girls (middle school, high school and young twenties). Body image is a painful subject for most women. There are two great influencers in our lives when it comes to how we view our bodies. Mother and media. Prior to age ten the significant woman in our life impacts how we see the body – our body. I asked women to text in what their mother (grandmother, sister, aunt etc.) taught them about their body. It may have been a spoken or unspoken message. An unspoken message is like when a mother constantly diets or has plastic surgery or can’t go out without make up. The text rolled. It’s not what’s on the outside but what’s on the inside that counts – (Really!? Then why do we look at our butts in the mirror while trying on a pair of jeans!)- your too fat – watch what you eat – you have love handles – men will only love you if you’re beautiful – thin is in …. You get the point. Toxic right? Have you ever stopped and thought about what messages you received about your body? How have they impacted your body practices (how we use and engage our body)? The second influencer in how we view our body is media (no duh!) Advertisement is a 100 BILLION dollar business. We see over 2000 ads a day. And what are they selling? Image. If you buy this you will be … “cool” “sexy” “successful.” Advertisement sells image. If that’s true, and it is, then what’s it selling to us women? Let me just say 20 years ago the average model wore a size 8, today she wears a size 0! Need I say more. But mom and media aren’t the only ones forming and informing our view of the body. The Church informs us too. I asked the women to share what messages, spoken or unspoken, they learned from the Church about what it means to have a female body. Answers: Women are responsible for sexually purity – theirs and the boys too!  Be thin. You’re husband needs you to be beautiful. You’re not sexual. Be put all together (especially when you go to church). What you wear is very important (especially when attending church). Don’t focus on outward appearances as much as the culture. The body is a Temple (meaning be respectful of it). Think about it. What messages have you learned from the Church? And are they true? That’s really the question we’re after. What does it mean for us to “image” something? Body image. What are we imaging – after...

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