I know I am really in danger when I start writing on political stuff. No matter what I say, it will alienate some, and will leave me vulnerable to misinterpretation and misunderstanding. But I feel compelled to write about this moment in our nation’s history and the impact it has on us as believers in Jesus. The Supreme Court nomination of Brett Kavanaugh and subsequent accusations of sexual assault have brought us to quite a quandary.
In the Batman movie The Dark Knight, the Joker presents Batman with an awful dilemma. He has put the up and coming leader of Gotham, Harvey Dent in one location and Rachel Dawes, a prominent prosecuting attorney and Bruce Wayne’s life long friend and love in a different place. He tells Batman that he must choose which to rescue, the other will die. Batman knows the Joker does not play games, there is really no way out, he must choose who will live and die. He chooses to rescue Rachel sending Commissioner Gordon to save Dent, but when he arrives, Batman realizes that the Joker actually lied about the locations, and he was where Dent was located. But while trying to save him, both buildings blow up, Rachel is killed and Dent is disfigured turning him into a villain to be known as Two Face.
I fear that this current moment for our country, and more specifically those within the Christian church is a similar situation, with two horrible possibilities, and perilous danger in either decision. Unless you have been in a cave, you realize that the nominee is known, among his colleagues, to be a man of integrity, but is now accused of some pretty horrible things. We seem to have a situation where we can either save Harvey or Rachel, but not both. And either way we go, it could blow up in ways we are not seeing. Danger one is that if these allegations are not true, but they derail the nomination process and smear a man’s reputation, we will let loose in our political system a poison that is so dangerous. It will become acceptable and normative to contrive accusations against any person when they do not like their politics. We can get to the place where the truthfulness of accusations do not matter, it will be acceptable to destroy a person’s life for political gain with things that are not true, or at the least, non-confirmable. On the other hand, to choose the side of confirmation of the nominee puts us in a place where the possible pain and testimony of women who might have been hurt deeply and had their lives changed by a single moment is ignored. The message that could be sent in this to those who have been harmed by rape and sexual abuse is that they won’t be believed, their pain does not matter, and that politics are more important than their story. This has become evident in the viral #whyIdidntreport hashtag on Twitter, with thousands of people sharing a bit of their story and pain. As I read through many of these, my heart was broken and I grieved for the women (and some men) who had been violated, abused, raped, and shamed, and then chose to keep it silent. They did this, often because it was someone close and because they did not believe they would be believed. My eyes and heart were captured when I saw a Tweet from Christian author and speaker Beth Moore in this hashtag stream simply saying “He was in my house. #WhyIdidntreport.” She followed that up with several other thoughts, which you can read at the link. Reading these helped me realize that we are at a perilous situation.
So why write if it is controversial. Because it is my passion to speak to the church, or at least the congregation of believers God has called me, along with the other Elders of Genesis to serve so that we can be shaped by the Gospel, the grand narrative of Scripture, and the mission of God. My fear is that so often we come to these situations and our reaction is based more on our political ideologies than on the principles of Scripture. Let me be very clear here, I am not making a statement for or against the nomination of this Supreme Court Justice. I am not a Senator, so don’t have a vote, and I doubt any of them will read my blog post. I am a pastor, and want to call us back to Gospel-shaped responses. And as I said, this one actually terrifies me, because either way this goes a lot could get blown up. But I also believe in God’s sovereign purposes, which means that in a real way, He is orchestrating this moment in our history. It seems to me that more and more often, a response that comes from political allegiance and a response flowing from Gospel fidelity may look drastically different. Maybe God has brought us to this moment to expose the prior and call us to the latter. As followers of Jesus, part of God’s work in history is designed to give us the opportunity to respond like Christ. Which leads us to a second challenge we have if we are to be Gospel people. We have to ask what it looks like for Jesus to step into dilemmas that seem to have no way out (see J0hn 8:1-11). Somehow, even when it seemed impossible, Jesus was able to love the broken and outcast deeply while holding up a standard of righteousness. I don’t think Jesus would ever choose political sides in situations, rather He would speak prophetically in both directions, demanding justice and righteousness. This is our role, it is the call of the church, to love the broken and outcast. To have deep compassion for anyone who has been abused, raped, and mistreated and to prophetically stand against these things. To call for justice to the abuser and seek that the full impact of the law be applied, while at the same time offering grace and forgiveness through Christ. Yet, at the same time to demand truth telling and stand against anyone who would bear false witness and destroy people’s lives with things that are not true. So, with this in mind, a few things I would like all of us to consider.
- You and I do not know who is telling the truth, or where the truth lies in this story. This is part of the reason it is such a quandary, we really don’t know. We think we know (which will be addressed in point 2). It seems both are credible with the story they are telling. In the end, unless there is something that comes out in the testimony over the next couple days, the reality is that we cannot know with certainty where the truth rests, and the only people who do are the accuser, the accused, and Jesus.
- More than likely, you believe the person (or people) who best represent your political ideology and beliefs. This is one of the saddest realities being revealed in this entire story. If the accused is on my side of the political spectrum, then the person making the accusation is spreading false information for political gain. But when the accused is on the other side, then the accuser is a hero who needs to have a voice. Too often we will join the chorus of people who attack and seek to destroy the reputation of the accuser or the accused based solely on what we wish will happen to advance our political causes. We as believers need to stop this.
- It is a travesty and deeply harmful thing for a person to be wrongfully accused. And it is a horrible and wicked thing for a person to be sexually abused, molested, or raped. Both are evil, but we need to approach these situations with compassion and grace, not with harsh judgment and vitriol.
- Sexual abuse happens more often than you think. Statistics tell us that one in nine girls are sexually abused by the time they turn 18 and one is six women have been raped or attempted rape in their lifetime. These crimes are only actually reported by 1/3 of the victims, meaning that 2 out of 3 victims of sexual crimes choose not to report out of fear, shame, and pain. This is a significant issue of justice that should get our attention, compassion, and care.
So here is where I am going with all of this. Our conversation and approach to this situation matters. While my response will have absolutely no impact on whether or not we have a new judge in the next few days, the church’s response has potential to do much harm to the advance of the Gospel. We need to know that when we talk about this or post things on social media, there are people who hear or follow us whose lives have been devastated by this issue. But often they hurt silently, not wanting anyone to know. It is the role of the church to love people in the Gospel, show them Christ, and help them become disciples of Jesus. Our churches, Community Groups, and other spaces have to be safe places for those who have been hurt and have deep pain and struggle. We must not in any way enable predators. Our spaces must also become a safe place for those who have been abused to come forward, be heard, and taken seriously. And we must offer grace to both the accuser and the accused, while allowing the justice system take responsibility for administering justice. We cannot do this while at the same time casting aside people and their pain if it harms our political goals.
Our allegiance is to King Jesus, so our politics can never become more important than loving people in the Gospel. This is my goal. The purpose of the Gospel is always to create a counter-culture that steps into quagmires like our present situation with a different answer, and a different King and Judge. This does not mean that we have no opinion on political matters, of course we do, and we should. But please, as people of the eternal Kingdom, lets be careful about our rhetoric, attitudes, and posture in this one. The last thing we want to do is be part of a dilemma where both buildings blow up, and we are responsible for it. Rather, let’s be the people who are ready to point our culture to a better way and a better King. Thanks for reading.