No matter where you stand on the Kavanaugh/Ford debate, one thing is clear: the response from some Christians is appalling. From so-called faith leaders like Franklin Graham who have implied that even if Kavanaugh attempted to sexually assault Dr. Ford, it’s not relevant as to whether he gets confirmed to the Supreme Court or not, to run-off-the-mill Christians who have suggested that all teenage boys behave like drunken, sexual deviants—thus justifying assault, I guess?—the nonchalance of our “Christian” response to Kavanaugh’s alleged behavior is striking.
Now, I’m not one to condemn others for past behaviors or to assume guilt where there may not be any, but what I don’t quite get is how anyone can say that what Kavanaugh may have done is “irrelevant.” The truth is always relevant. Potential abuse is never something to scoff at.
(And before anyone says that I’m siding with Kavanaugh by saying he may not be guilty, I’m not. I believe Dr. Ford’s testimony. I don’t buy his. I may not be correct in my assessment—after all, I wasn’t even born yet—but I think she’s telling the truth and, if I had to guess, that Mr. Kavanaugh, being the beer-drinking douche-bro he certainly seems to be, got so damn drunk that he blacked out and attempted to exert physical and sexual dominance over his victim(s). So, that’s where I’m at with things.)
However, my opinion on Kavanaugh and the fact that I don’t think he’s a good fit for the Supreme Court is not going to make a bit of difference as to whether he gets confirmed or not. My reach isn’t that far, my influence infinitesimally too small. So, instead of offering yet another opinion on the specifics of the case, I wanted to briefly focus my attention on how we as Christians can better respond to situations like this. And it starts by actually hearing the voices of victims.
You see, we Christians—typically those of us with penises—have always had a propensity to silence our victims, to shame them even. From the Catholic Church attempting to hide the fact that priests have been abusing children for nearly as long as fish have called water “home,” to the constant “slut-shaming” of women in the Evangelical church at-large, we’ve made it a habit to reject Christ’s call to stand with victims in order to stand with the antichrist message that God’s calling for our lives is to align with those in power.
This is the terribly ironic thing about all this: we Christians are the ones who claim to follow the ultimate victim yet when it comes to potential victimage at the hands of the powerful, we are so damn quick to stand in the opposite corner and put up our collective dukes against the one claiming abuse. And look, I suppose I get it: power can be appealing. It gives us a sense of control. Like a drug, it makes us feel as if we can take on the world, steamroll it, and that nothing can or will ever get in our way.
But Christians aren’t called to be powerful. We’re called to serve. Jesus reminds his disciples of this very thing in Matthew 20:26 when he states, “Whoever wishes to be great among you must be your servant.” To that end, when it comes to thinking about folks who have claimed to have been abused by those who have coercively lorded over them, how can we serve them if we don’t hear them? How can we stand in solidarity with victims if we call their victimage “irrelevant?”
Again, this doesn’t mean that people are guilty until proven innocent. And it doesn’t mean that all accusations are fair or right. But it does mean we have to take seriously allegations of abuse and trauma. Every. Single. Time. That should be our starting place, especially as people who follow one who was unfairly victimized at the hands of those in power (IE the Roman State, the religious authorities, and so on).
Now, I suppose moving forward, it will only be a matter of time until the powers that be decide whether Kavanaugh will be confirmed or not. I’m glad that the FBI is looking into the case and it is my hope that the truth is discovered. I tend to think it already has been and that Dr. Ford is telling the truth, but I cannot be sure. However, I’m not certain it’s really my job to fully figure it out. Rather, I think it’s simply my job, even as a struggling Christian, to compassionately listen to those who have claimed to have been victimized by others, to take them seriously, and to serve their needs by shutting my mouth for a moment and opening my ears. And the job of investigators to figure out the actual facts surrounding each case.
Anyway, that is where I’m at with all this. If you disagree, please feel free to comment below. Just don’t be an ass about it. There is enough vitriol in the world already and I don’t think we need any more here.
Until next time.