No, Allegations Of Abuse Are Never Irrelevant

No, Allegations Of Abuse Are Never Irrelevant October 2, 2018
Courtesy of Pixabay

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?”

We can’t.

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.

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What Are Your Thoughts?leave a comment
  • First we have Graham telling us attempted rape is irrelevant, then the President ridicules female reporters, followed by mocking Dr. Ford’s account of sexual assault. When asked about what he would like to say to American men, Trump declares “it’s a scary time for men in America!” Now we have Paige Patterson teaching at a Christian school a class on “Christian ethics!”
    It is sickening.

  • Christianity has become increasingly toxic and hateful and dare I say anti-Christ.

  • it’s a scary time for men in America!

    My mom’s response to this was “Welcome to being black in America!” (My mom is African-American.)

    It is also noteworthy that Trump called for the execution of the Central Park Five even after they were acquitted.

    But, they were men of color, and Kavanaugh is white.

  • Ellen Hammond

    Thank you Matthew, for standing with victims, speaking up, and saying what needs to be said. The lack of ‘Christian respect, empathy, and love, toward victims, is astounding. We have 2 ears and only 1 mouth for a reason, so we can listen twice as much as we talk. Sadly, on twitter and other social media, so many figure having 10 fingers outweighs then both, especially since they don’t have to look anyone in the eye when they spew their judgmental remarks. Any wonder why most women don’t report rape, or attempted rape, right after the fact???

    I remember 50 years ago, as a 16 year old being asked by the cops what style and color my panties were…as if the rapist had Xray vision. Then they seemed to concentrate more on my history and asked even more insulting, prying, questions, making me feel more guilt and shame. When I was told that if it went to court, the defence attorney would be as bad or worse, I dropped it. Almost 30 years later, after being attacked by 2 men, I once again attempted to report it because I had heard the system had changed. Guess what…it hadn’t changed much at all, and once again I felt re-victimized. And that is perhaps the main reason why so many women don’t report or talk about it until they feel they have to speak up to help others or to keep the rapist from gaining more power.

  • LuckyTN

    Dear one, I can relate. I was sexually assaulted in 1965 and never told anyone until 40 years later. After all, it had to have been my own fault and now i was damaged goods. No more. We shouldn’t have to deal with men who can’t keep their sexuality under control.

  • Ellen Hammond

    Lucky TN….Sorry to hear you were assaulted too. It is high time such disrespectful men were made to face the consequences of their actions. Women are equal human beings, and as such, we are NOT here to be used and abused by men who think they have some God given right to touch us whenever and however they desire.

  • Ellen, I’m sorry this happened but appreciate you speaking out. The more women who can testify about the guilt and shame and how it plays into not saying anything, the more of a chance things can change.

  • Basilone1

    Assault in any form is disgusting! However as a career prosecutor and many years of defense work subsequent and having examined thousands of witnesses both direct and cross, I do not believe BK is the perpetrator. In almost 25 years of trial work and evidentiary hearings its amazing how much more proficient one gets in detecting truth (Im not special everyone does it every day). In the criminal justice system you get really good at it, almost second nature. I was convinced 90 seconds into Dr Fords testimony.

    And now that a former related attorney has come out with the public records indicating the front door project was in 2007/08 and its purpose was to rent out to a tenant who needed a door, only makes what was a non-plausible reason for therapy appear to be flat out false-hood. In addition to the former boyfriends sworn comments on polygraph preparation and the squeezing of Leland by Fords former FBI agent friend to alter her testimony.

    Having initially taken her claim that something happened to be serious, I still do. However, she was not completely honest and it certainly wasn’t Brett Kavanaugh. I wish them both the very best.

  • Mr. James Parson

    This atheist agrees.

  • Chari McCauley

    They fear ALL the things they take for granted or use shamelessly.
    Everything hidden in darkness will be brought into the light.
    Why does everyone expect these things to look like hocus-pocus?!

    When looking in the mirror;
    Retribution and rehabilitation from an addiction always feels like hell that lasts for an (exagerated) eternity.
    The work to rehab a broken limb; the rehab to become free of some drugs (even those we were told were harmless) is painful, and sometime gut-wretching; pride and hubris, (neither of which can enter the inner chambers of Father’s Home).

    They are realities, by which, many both…guilty and innocent, big and small…have fallen.

  • Claire Cavy

    Trump isn’t a Christian, though.

  • Never said he was. What’s your point?

  • Claire Cavy

    Because you mentioned him in a discussion about the hypocrisy of Christians.

  • The article is about male privilege and misogyny in general, Christians included. What we are now realizing is that male sexism is not just outside the church, however, but seems to flourish in authoritarian structures, as Beth Moore and others are now voicing. So if you have a point, please make it.