Guarding the Sanctity of the Sick Pilgrim and the Broken Spirit

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Yesterday, I ranted briefly about “Men Behaving Badly to Get Their Rocks Off.”

The big story today is about a fellow (now former) Patheosi who falls inside that category, having abused his position in the Sick Pilgrims community to gain access to and exploit vulnerable women.

A lot of commenting on stories like this turns into quibbling over the nature of the allegations–is this assault? Is it exploitation? Is it icky-but-perfectly-normal “seduction”? Are these the actions of a sexual predator or are they the inconstant but genuinely fervent actions of a mentally confused romantic?

My answer? I don’t really care.

Not that I don’t care when things veer over into the realm of criminality. Criminal acts should be prosecuted. But (as I’ve said various places), I don’t see these things as belonging in separate categories. As I’ve said elsewhere, I see them all as existing as points along a spectrum of sin and use.  

Over at The Personalist Project today, I’m talking about the reason people commit sexual assault. 

We all, at one point or another, find ourselves tempted to objectify other people–for entertainment, for pleasure, as a target for our frustrations, as a scapegoat, as a caretaker, as a project. We impose our will on others–for their own good, because we know better, to make our lives easier, to attain an ulterior end, to fix a problem or to build ourselves up.

We seek positions of power, authority, or influence, and vulnerable people, so that we can get the things we want or have an advantage against a world that feels unfeeling and scary.

We feel entitled, and we disregard others’ agency.

When we disregard other’s agency, and the good of the unique, irreplaceable self it is meant to protect, we become people who see opportunity in vulnerability.

There’s no room in an authentic, Christ-centered community for anyone who responds to vulnerability with exploitation. Our friends, colleagues, and neighbors must be doubly precious to us in their vulnerability and almost-holy in the sanctity of their trust.

Jessica, Donna, I hear you. I believe you.

 

Image via Pixabay

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