Violence against women is the most prevalent and the most hidden injustice in our world today. From rape as a weapon of war, to human trafficking, to the attack of a young girl seeking an education, the treatment of women and girls across the globe is in a state of crisis.
And we don't even need to leave our own shores to encounter staggering statistics. Here in the U.S., 1 in 5 women have been raped in their lifetime — a number that only jumps when you realize that 54 percent of sexual assaults are never reported. More than 1 in 3 women have experienced some kind of intimate partner violence. Sexual assaults in the U.S. military continue to rise — with an estimated 26,000 in 2012 alone — even as its leaders claim to be addressing the epidemic.
As I lay out in my book On God’s Side, what has been missing from this narrative is the condemnation of these behaviors from other men, especially men in positions of power, authority, and influence — like those in our pulpits. In a section of that book, I say we need to establish a firm principle: the abuse of women by men will no longer be tolerated by other men. The voices of more men need to join the chorus to make that perfectly clear.
It's time for all people of faith to be outraged. It's time for our Christian leaders to stand up and say that women, made in the very image of God, deserve better. And it's time for us in the faith community to acknowledge our complicity in a culture that too often not only remains silent, but also can propagate a false theology of power and dominance.
Sojourners is proud to feature a new series: Sexual Violence & the Church. In the series, we hope to examine the roots of this power narrative, hear from people within the church who are actively working to combat stigmas and forge a path to healing, and empower women to tell their own stories. We will continue to update the series throughout the coming weeks, and then open up the conversation to all who wish to participate.
The first step to addressing this crisis is acknowledging it exists, even within our church walls. The next is to do something about it.
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