The Forehead of a Whore
God promises to send us shepherds who will feed us with knowledge and understanding. I know there are some shepherds out there preaching like it’s still the Iron Age, talking about women and our bodies like we’re everything but daughters of God. But when God sends the shepherd, her heart will be patterned after God’s heart and she will leave you with knowledge not shame, understanding, not name-calling.
When #MeToo went viral in 2017, the movement paved the way for #ChurchToo and #SilenceIsNotSpiritual, hashtags that insisted that because Christians are not immune to perpetrating sexual and domestic violence, they must actively denounce it. Christians all across the spectrum spoke out online against abuse. But we wanted to know, would faith leaders be willing to elevate the conversation from Twitter to the pulpit?
Abuse in the church - it has to end.
For people who have been abused, there is no quick fix. I wish I could say there was. However, as the promise from Isaiah makes clear, in Jesus there is hope and healing, liberation and justice. I can only pray that the reality of those promises are evident in your life in the days, weeks, and years to come.
Until then, religious leaders like me have work to do—to interrupt the injustices being perpetrated by our very own leaders on our very own people.
This Is Us: The Tale of Tamar
I keep being drawn to this text over and over again. I can’t be released from it because Tamar keeps waking me up in the middle of the night. She keeps speaking to me saying, “Tell my story.”
Because there are those who are still shackled and wearing sackcloth and ashes. I know they may wear their best when they come to church, but underneath the best is sackcloth and ashes.
Finding Good Amongst the No Good
Love cannot be purchased with your pain. We do not need to hurt in order to experience love, for God is love and God intends nothing but your flourishing.
As a follow-up to a 2014 Broken Silence Survey, We Will Speak Out, IMA World Health, and Sojourners commissioned a study of 1,000 pastors in early 2018, asking them a range of questions about their thoughts and actions around domestic and sexual violence.
Times Up: A Biblical Warning Against Sexual Aggresion
God, the Psalms say, is on the side of those that are being exploited. And God may not work on our timetable, but there is a holy force that is at work. And no matter how things might look in our particular day and age, there is a moral foundation to the universe and we can be part of it.
A Sunset at Sunrise
If your pastor didn’t at least acknowledge #MeToo, you need a new pastor.
And so my role is to have you think about the ways in which God is calling you into total liberation. Total freedom. We like to talk about freedom in Jesus. We like to talk about early Sunday morning. We’re so quick to rush to the sunrise that we never dealt with the sunset. We’re so quick to get to the resurrection of the Savior, we don’t even pay attention to the 33 years that He lived and walked and breathed.
While 90 percent of pastors encounter domestic and sexual violence through their work, only 50 percent believe they have sufficient training to address it. Click here for a resource guide to make your church a safer space for survivors.
No More Silence, No More Violence
Because what Paul says in his letter to the Ephesians is true that all bad things need to be exposed to the light. Only then will the darkness go away. Only when we talk about this issue, when we name it, when we believe those who have been victimized, will we begin to heal it and make this a better world to live.
Waiting on God: Genealogies and Grace
#MeToo has led to #ChurchToo. Jesus’ geneology reveals something profound about God. That God comes to the aid and identifies with people who have been sinned against. God doesn’t overlook them, God doesn’t hide their stories and God doesn’t sweep them under the rug. And it is the church’s job to do the same.
Tamar: Daughter of the King
[Sexual assault] is a very biblical topic. Meaning that the Bible references sexual abuse/sexual violence often and God's deep displeasure with it. And the reason why we're so uncomfortable is not because the Bible doesn't talk about it, but because we don't talk about it.
Eighty-five percent of Protestant pastors said they have heard of the #MeToo movement. Sixteen percent have heard of the #ChurchToo movement.
Jesus Says "Me Too"
Jesus enters the world through the womb of a woman so that we can go free. He does not make a grand entrance but waits to be born, tarries with Mary, tied to her umbilical cord, connected to her suffering. When she cried out in pain, he said, “Me too.”
Shining a Light on the Ministry of Shepherding
We must ask the question: Why has the church been among the last institutions to respond to the crisis of domestic violence?
Forty-one percent of pastors who have heard of the #MeToo movement say that in light of the #MeToo movement, they are more inclined to preach about domestic or sexual violence.
Broken Bodies, Breaking Bondage
So, let’s speak out, just like Jesus did. Let’s get angry, just like Jesus did. And let us, as the church, as agents of Jesus Christ, claim our responsibility for driving out the evil spirit that tries to break our bodies and bend our wills. Right now, in our political reality, we need to pay attention. We need to speak up. We need to resist.
So, in the era of MeToo, when the world is being transformed all around us, what can the church offer? We have our story, and we have long memory. Stories deep enough to have hope, memories long enough to have saints.
See beloved, sometimes people think that they have written our stories for us. But God says, that is not your story. God gives us the voice, God gives us the power to reclaim our stories of our own. So, then Tamar takes that power to reclaim her story.
Sermons are just one piece of the puzzle. We encourage every pastoral team to connect with their local domestic and sexual violence service agencies, establish policies, and research other resources.
Peace Not Reconciliation
In the face of these questions I am thankful for the ways in which Nehemiah complicates our ideas about forgiveness. He reminds us that forgiveness can be a difficult and life-changing road. What we find is that forgiveness doesn’t nullify the consequences of sin. Neither is forgiveness synonymous with reconciliation… We can forgive another person and even, in a sense, be at peace with them without a full restoration of the relationship.
Brothers, we are called to create safe space for women at home, in the church, on the job, in the school. We are called to pray for them and not prey on them.
The gospel is never [just] a commentary on ideas or culture or conditions; it’s always about actual persons, actual pain, actual trouble, actual sin: you, me; who you are and what you’ve done; who I am and what I’ve done. It’s both easy and common to lose this focus, to let the gospel blur into generalized pronouncements, … religious indignation. That’s what David is doing in this story, listening to his pastor preach a sermon about somebody else and getting all worked up about this someone else’s sin…. That kind of religious response is worthless…. It’s the religion of moral judgmentalism, self-righteous finger-pointing, the religion of accusation and blame.
If you are in danger, please call 911, your local hotline, the National Domestic Violence Hotline: 800-799-7233 / TTY 1-800-787-3224, or the Rape, Abuse and Incest National Network (RAINN) Hotline: 800-656-4673
Domestic Violence: What Does the Lord Require of Us?
We must love kindness. We must open up our Bibles, as well as our eyes, hearts and minds, to Jesus’ message and remind ourselves that the one we follow is rooted in love. The Hebrew word for love here is chesed. This is a love that is unbreakable and unconditional, like the love God has for us. To love kindness means we in the church must listen to and believe survivors who share their story. Survivors come from environments where they were made to feel powerless. Love kindness means focusing on empowering survivors to make their own choices.
While half of pastors say they do not have adequate training or resources to address situations of domestic or sexual violence, 83 percent report that they would take action if they did have adequate resources and training.
The Bent-Over Woman
Perpetrators of spiritual abuse are masters at twisting scripture to gain power and control. When God’s name is used to endorse certain behaviours, the assumption is that this type of behaviour comes with a divine authority that no one can argue with. The victim of spiritual abuse becomes convinced there is no way out, they are meant to suffer this way, that God is punishing them, that this is their cross to bear and God’s will for them.
The Rape of Dinah
He came to forgive us. And to empower us. To start over again. And that can start now.
Some of us have been violated.
And some of us have done the violating.
Some of us have taken advantage of others.
Some of us have stood by silently – our courage failed us.
All of us today can claim a better way, a higher power and call on the name of Jesus to save us. To redeem us. And to make us whole.
Bathsheba Tells Her Story
And it is with that hope that we continue to pray all our days, and with the passing of time, we begin to feel our hope is not in vain. We do not know where this assurance comes from. We do not know how or when, but we feel it, know it deep within that someday, somehow God will send a very different kind of king. We can only pray the world will be ready to receive him. He will be a man willing to be ruined on behalf of the people. If only the people will respond in like courage. Amen.
The faith community has become more active in the battle against domestic and sexual violence over the past four years. Compared to 2014, more pastors today have familiarized themselves with local resources (55 percent v. 43 percent), have preached more than once on domestic and sexual violence (51 percent v. 34 percent), and have conducted safety risk assessments (40 percent v. 31 percent).
Freedom is Life
If we are surrounded by a culture, let alone raised in one, which suggests we are made in the image of God but all the images and words and people representing that God are male, what does that tell a young girl about her own worth and value in that system?
Even though only one out every 11 Protestant pastors is a woman, over 65 percent of the sermons we received for this project were delivered by women.
[Harvey Weinstein] didn't think there would be a reckoning – and he would be on the receiving end of the reckoning. He never realized that at some point in the future, there would be a divine reckoning. At the heart of the universe there IS justice.
The Justice Generation
Maybe you feel heavy and are questioning how things could have gotten so bad. What have we done wrong in these recent years to allow these atrocities to happen in our congregations? At first I too thought the world was getting much worse, much darker, much more sinister… And then I realized the truth...The reason things seem to be deepening in darkness is not because things are getting so much worse, but because the veil is being lifted.
After having dozens of conversations [it became clear], that no one has ever--myself included--heard a sermon on Genesis 34. ever. It's about this woman named Dinah, and she's raped. And you have to ask, Why not? We preach whole sermons on single words of the Bible.
In the summer of 2018, news surfaced that Paige Patterson, a prominent leader in the Southern Baptist church, ignored and concealed allegations of abuse and assault, and advised a woman to return to her abuser. The Southern Baptist Seminary where he worked fired him from his role as president. At the Southern Baptist Conventions’ annual meeting in Dallas, Texas, activists including Ashley Easter organized a For A Time Such As This Rally, calling for a clergy abuse database, abuse disclosure protocols, and training for faith leaders on counseling and referring victims.
Born For Such a Time As This
We are shaking it up and breaking it down. The walls of shame and secrecy are beginning to crack. Inside the dark confines of oppression, light is being shed.
Jesus Calls Us to a Reckoning
So much of the darkness today comes from this objectification and the abuse of power, along with the systemic inequality and oppression that goes with it, all of which follows directly from our inability and unwillingness to follow Jesus’ commandments to love God and love our neighbors as ourselves, as our sisters and brothers, as full human beings – as if they were Jesus himself.
A month after the annual Southern Baptist Convention meeting, J. D. Greear, the new president of the SBC, announced the planned formation of a Sexual Abuse Presidential Study Group, which will “consider how Southern Baptists at every level can take discernible action to respond swiftly and compassionately to incidents of abuse.” The SBC is the largest Protestant denomination in the U.S.
And so it is my hope that bringing the conversation into the church is appropriate, this sacred place of healing and wholeness where we know in our hearts that each person is wonderfully made, created in the image of God and worthy of love. Knowing that truth: how is God calling us as a church to respond to the realities of sin in a broken world?
“What kind of witness do we give if we pretend that we live in a perfect community, and that everyone who comes here is wonderful, and sin isn’t a problem for us.” That’s just bad theology. This side of heaven, we are living with sin, and the more open we are about it, the more likely we are to see it, name it and address it. We are a broken people. We live and suffer with all kinds of different tragedies. We offer the steadfast love of God to each other, love from a God who knows we are not perfect but who still welcomes us with open arms.
I have heard too many stories of abused women and children, whose abusers told them that suffering made them closer to Jesus, that suffering as Jesus suffered bestows holiness and purifies. Dear friends, it is an abomination when the life-giving story of Jesus is used to inflict suffering on other people. That kind of cross is not one we bear. That kind of cross is one we resist!
This has also been the summer of sexual abuse revelations for the Catholic Church in the U.S. Just weeks after the Vatican removed Cardinal Theodore E. McCarrick from ministry after finding allegations that he sexually abused a minor to be “credible and substantiated,” a Pennsylvania grand jury report revealed that over 300 priests faced credible allegations of sexually abusing over 1,000 children.
Homily on Domestic Violence
We want to reach everyone who is suffering in darkness to come find light here in our parish. Everyone who suffers desperation and despair to come and find hope here at our parish. We want them not to think God has abandoned them but to come here and experience the love of Jesus Christ that we will extend to them.
Kings, Queens, and #MeToo
In response to the #MeToo movement, men’s voices have been few and far between. Where are you? Are you talking to each other? Are you reflecting on your own ministry or work settings, remembering what you observed or what you participated in? Are you considering what you can do now to stand with survivors of sexual abuse?
Moved With Compassion
My challenge to you today is that we must move out of our comfort zones and begin to engage in this movement of breaking silence and becoming a welcoming community that is “moved with compassion.” In other words, we need to own that this exists within our community, and like Jesus, we must confront it head on. Remember, Jesus was never afraid to confront, nor question beliefs and stereotypes!
One of the priests featured in this initiative preached a sermon on domestic violence to 150 different congregations.
Casting Out Demons
Any belief that presumes a right to dominance is a demon that must be cast out of our midst.
By the Sword
So, I am a lectionary preacher. That means that I choose from assigned texts on any given week, in order to work through the Bible in the three-year lectionary cycle ... It forces me to preach on some scriptures that I would rather ignore ... But as I was reading this text, I became furious, not only with the Bible story, but also with the lectionary itself. Because the lectionary skips some stories, from time to time, and the story that directly precedes this text, is skipped by the lectionary. And that story includes the reason that David’s army is fighting his son, Absalom.
The Bent-Over Woman
If women had an equal voice in the church our conversation about sex in the church would dramatically shift to a focus on confronting violence and aggression. If women had equal voice the church wouldn’t be so reluctant to confront the prevalence of violent pornography.
For all the Bathshebas
You are not allowed to say ‘no’ to the King. And so perhaps Bathsheba went willingy, but she did not give her consent. In a situation in which a person is not allowed to say no—when we read that the King sent guards to get her and he lay with her, then we can and we should read, friends, then that means King David raped Bathsheba.
Abuse occurs in the Bible, to victims both named and unnamed: Bathsheba. Dinah. Hagar. The unnamed Concubine. The daughter of Jephthah. These stories stretch across the pages of our scriptures, but are often missing in our lectionary and Sunday morning readings. In sharp contrast, the faith leaders in this initiative waded into these biblical accounts, referred to by Phyllis Trible as the “texts of terror.” Andy Savage never should have silenced Jules Woodson. Absolom should have never silenced Tamar. And pastors must not silence the scriptures portraying domestic and sexual violence.
How Have We Polluted You?
Marriages that are defiled by oppression and domestic violence and abuse are in fact polluting the very image of God that they were meant to reflect.
With Full Submission
This is not an easy sermon. These are not easy times. These are not easy scriptures. This is not an easy conversation. But I trust you. And I trust God. And I trust that together, we will end the silence. It is time. It is far past time. But with the help of the God who created us all – male and female – may we move forward, together.
I am sorry that we the church have not done a better job of teaching Christian men – from the time they are boys – to respect women as people. Men, women don’t need our protection. They need us to listen and take them seriously.
1 in 5 pastors say they have personally experienced domestic or sexual violence, up 11 percent since 2014.
In the West, the church doesn’t really have a theology for those who have been abused. We talk about sin – the way in which we’ve acted against God or others. Sin is active. It’s a thought, word, deed, attitude, or intention that goes against God and humanity. But we don’t have language to talk about being sinned against.
Domestic Violence: Let Justice Roll!
Any other application of these verses fails to live up to their message. Any use of these verses to justify violence and domination towards another person is a travesty of God’s inspired Word, and is in itself doubly sinful.
If 9 out of 10 pastors will encounter domestic or sexual violence situations at work, then 10 out of 10 pastors must receive training. Only 45 percent of pastors believe that their seminary training provided sufficient resources to address domestic or sexual violence.
God in the Cry
God comes when our bodies, which according to Genesis are sacredly created in God’s image, open our tear ducts in refusal of a violent reality. God comes when our flesh, which Jesus chose to come in, quakes in revolt against any action that makes our flesh feel anything less than Divine.
Since #metoo caught on, a mountain of terrible accusations and confessions have left us breathless and tired in the breadth of this endemic condition. Its gnarly roots have us tripping in our mountain paths over the likelihood of stories, statistically existing as one in three, meaning that 120 men and women here in church this morning have experienced sexual assault. For all, we pray, “Take heart,” for just being here is evidence of your ability to survive this terror and we are about to, through the power of Christ in us, lean into the light to illuminate the beauty of healing.
The Cry of Tamar
If you don't believe that he died for women's liberation then tell me why there were so many more women at the foot of that cross when he bled than the brothers that was supposed to be his roll dogs.
He died for this moment right now. Because when Tamar was crying he was listening.
Make your church a safer space for people enduring abuse by putting up the numbers for the domestic and sexual violence hotlines in your restroom stalls.
The American Heritage
It’s in our tradition to omit and gloss over stories that do not flatter the patriarchs.
#metoo - What Would Jesus Say to Women?
If you have been the victim of harassment, abuse, or assault, I want you to know that Jesus understands. You can go to Jesus and know that he will hear your prayer and understand your pain and anger. Jesus will believe you. Jesus will stand with you. And because Jesus understands and stands with you, we who are His followers will too.
Three Unexpected Gifts: Justice, Forgiveness and Mercy
Justice is when someone gets what they deserve. Mercy is when they get what they don’t deserve. And Grace is when they get what they could never deserve.
We have come to understand that… just because the Bible was written during the patriarchal times DOES NOT MEAN that patriarchy, male-dominance is God-ordained. And, just because there is a law in the land does not mean that every law is God-ordained, especially when it is in opposition the greatest of all Law of Love.... We have to be able to separate the practices of the time from the intent.
It is also important that pastors know their limits when it comes to aiding people in abusive relationships. Do not act as a licensed therapist or law enforcement officer if you are not one. Recognize when it’s time to make a referral to experts.
Boys Will Be Boys
For the first time I have some hope that we are developing a cultural intolerance of sexual harassment and assault; that police and courts will hold men accountable to existing and strengthened laws; that those who use positions of power to abuse will face scorn and punishment. I have hope that we will raise our sons and all of our children to reject and report toxic masculinity.
They Were Arrogant and Unconcerned
When 95 percent of the sexual violence that happens, happens at the hands of men, then why don't you talk to the men? So, I want to close with saying, men, will you stand up? Will you say, this is not okay? This is not my wife's issue...this is about men. This is about us. Can we look at ourselves?
The Stories We Do Not Tell
Unfortunately, it is not easy to acknowledge that life is not only made by a shining sun or a bright morning. It is not comfortable to accept that life also has its dark spots and moments when the night seems to last forever. However, if we want to embrace fully our humanity and also live a transparent life, we also have to embrace those moments that we tend to forget; we have to start sharing those stories we do not tell.
If you do not feel comfortable preaching out about domestic or sexual violence, hand the mic over to the experts. Invite your local domestic or sexual violence social workers to the pulpit or out to coffee.
Time to Listen
The story of Hagar and Sarah is still being played out today, all over the world...
I think of Hagar when I hear of the 4.5 million people around the world who are being trafficked as slaves and sex slaves.
The Cry of Tamar, A Desolate Woman
Remember, friends, the very first thing the risen Christ showed his awestruck disciples was his scars. No cover up. No pretense. Just scars. Maybe we can start to rebuild with honest courage like that. Healing is painful. That’s why too many people never experience it. So how about it, church? Is there hope? Is there a balm in Gilead?
Lies, Rape, and Murder
It is our call to teach each other, our brothers, our sisters, our fathers and mothers, our daughters and our sons - about how each of us is made in the image of God, and how each person must be treated with respect and dignity. We must continually stress that God calls our adult relationships to be based on equality and love…
It is a crime, it is a sin; and it is an abomination before God to treat one of God’s created people as simply an object or as a means to an end.
More pastors than ever before — 95 percent — have reported they are familiar with resources locally available to which they can refer a parishioner struggling with abusive situations.
But what if the story of Bethlehem is about something very different: the story of a God who enters into this world in the silent places – in the silence of a victim, the silence of the unnamed, the silence of the unknown – what if that is at the heart of both Bethlehem stories? What if redemption is that God sees those who are forgotten? – that God aches and hurts and cares about those who are violated? – what if redemption is God reclaiming humanity for those who are dehumanized? What if redemption is the silent God speaking a name to those whose names have been taken from them – the name: Child, Mine, Beloved.
If it is not good news for the women, it is not the good news of Jesus.
Listening to Tamar
There were only two people in that room to hear the conversation and witness the rape: Amnon and Tamar. And still, Tamar’s voice survived. We know what she said. We can hear her NO, her logic, her vehemence. Tamar was able to tell someone the story of what happened to her and what she said. And that person was able to hear her, and remember her story, and share it at the right time with the right person, until this story made its way into our holy book, until thousands of years later, we know Tamar’s name, we know her tragedy, and we know her courage. “But he would not listen to her,” the Bible tells us of Amnon. But across all the barriers of history and culture and shame, we can listen to Tamar.
More than any other scripture, pastors contributing to this project cited the rape of Tamar (2 Samuel 13), in which Tamar’s half brother, Amnon, rapes her despite her multiple protestations.
Words on Wordlessness
The Spirit runs through our veins like a telephone wire telling God who we are, what we feel, what we think, what we need – even or perhaps especially when we can’t quite find the words to understand it or say it ourselves. What does this mean for the oppressed? For the trauma survivor that I spoke of earlier? This means that God, through the Holy Spirit, understands her story, her personhood, her cries and sighs.
Voices that Change Culture
The time for our silence as the church is over. Dr. King once said, “In the end we will remember, not the words of our enemies, but the silence of our friends.” It is time for us, the body of Christ to be outspoken about this violence. It is time for us to open our hearts, our minds, and our churches to the stories of survivors, to share with them the hope of God’s grace that is with us in our moments of deepest despair, and can in time bring hope. Now! Now is the time for us to break our silence!
Gladness Instead of Mourning
There is an unexpected reversal in our country: we are listening to women and powerful, abusive men are falling from glory. It feels to me like God’s love for justice is breaking in. Merry Christmas, y’all. This is what holy reversal looks like, and it is messy and it is uncomfortable and confusing and praise God, the status quo can never return.
The #MeToo / #ChurchToo Epidemic
This is a window of opportunity for us to become a beacon of hope, a place of safety, and a powerful force to end every form of violence against women globally. This moment in history is ours to steward.
Underdogs and Outsiders: If Not for the Women
Jesus comes from a history that is very, very messy. And what does that say about God? It says that God claims us even in our mess. God loves us even in the mess that we come from. That the mess in our family histories do not have to define who we are. That God's future for us is bright.
The Voice of Tamar
Sin thrives in secret and darkness, it grows like mildew when it is hidden from the sun. When bad things happen, the worst thing we can do is hide them away. Not only do we allow perpetrators to get away with acts of destruction and harm, not only do we create and allow other victims, but we shame those who are victimized. The time to speak up is now.
Equality Before God
Whatever else is in the Bible, whatever else we need to banish from being promoted as religious truth, in the beginning we were equal, we were one. God is still calling us to return to that potential with which we are all gifted. So we must teach our children that the only body they may claim is their own and never believe anyone who tells them differently.
Where Could I Carry My Shame?
When pleading with Amnon, Tamar asks, “Where could I carry my shame if you rape me?” This is a question survivors of rape and other forms of violence ask still today. “Where can I bring my shame?” And the church remains largely silent, perhaps implicitly saying, “Not here.”
Jesus is Anti-Abuse
Imagine a Christian—a follower of Jesus—as a beautiful crystal glass. [Hold up wine glass.] A valuable vessel ready for God to use. [Lightily strike it to make it chime. Pick up a similar-looking plastic wine glass.] Some people call themselves Christians, but they don’t treat others with love. [Drop or throw the plastic one.] This one’s plastic. Those who call themselves Christians and do what Jesus says are the real deal—the crystal glasses. Those who call themselves Christians but do not do what Jesus says are fakes, plastic, imitations of the real thing. They look a lot alike on the outside, but eventually, the lack of fruit in their lives, the lack of foundation, will show when they do not love others. If we call him Lord, we must do what he says.
Taking on Domestic Violence
And then there is forgiveness. I see forgiveness as one of the central concepts of Christianity. It’s anything but a simple concept...The role of forgiveness in our lives, in our faith is important, but it needs to be approached with care for the survivor. It cannot be pushed on people by others.
Speaking Your Truth
Speaking your truth requires courage and it requires community. In fact, the two usually go together.
I hope, I hope, I hope, this Advent, that the times, they are a changing. If nothing else, our ears and hearts are perked to believe the victim. And this: Maybe, just maybe, we can learn to apologize properly.
Yes, Domestic Violence IS in the Bible
Because of these crises of faith, victims are vulnerable to spiritual abuse, in which people try to keep women in those abusive relationships. But there is nothing in Christian teachings that can be rightly used to justify abuse.
Tamar: Palm Tree of Justice
Where do you stand? Are you the kind of guy who takes a stand to prevent sexual assault? According to the Bible Amnon is responsible for this crime, but his friend Jonadab is implicated as well. Men cannot be bystanders when their male friends are consumed with lust or acting as if they are entitled to sexual dominance over women.
Tamar means palm tree, a symbol of justice in the Jewish tradition, particularly the justice that women require and create.
Religion and Domestic Violence
Domestic violence does not, in one sense, have anything to do with religion. Yet, religion, if not the cause, often provides the context for abuse in a home in which either the abuser or the victim may cite religious beliefs for the abuse itself or for staying in an abusive relationship. Thus, where religion is part of the problem, religion necessarily must be part of the solution.
Judgement and Teamwork
In a church that takes care of the needy and vulnerable, in a Matthew 25 church, there is no gospel justification for domestic and sexual abuse, no matter who the perpetrator is. These are uncomfortable topics. Perhaps even more of an uncomfortable situation would be one in which we left these topics unaddressed, without any faith perspective share from which to consider them.
A Mother's Prayer
Freedom from sexual assault. Freedom from exploitation. Freedom from war. Freedom from mob beatings and unjust imprisonment. Freedom from a bound spirit. Freedom to be where Jesus is. Freedom to see his glory. That’s a mother’s prayer, and Jesus’ prayer. Amen.
I was a victim, but that’s not where the story ends. Through my relationship with God, and more specifically the redeeming actions and power of Jesus’ death on the cross, I know that I am also a victor.
There’s also spiritual violence, when the offender keeps the victim from practicing his or her faith. It also includes taking bible verses out of context in order to keep victims in submission.
Mother of Jesus - Tamar
Today, as we prepare for the coming of the Messiah, I want to light this candle in honor of Tamar—someone who had nothing but hope. And for all the Tamars in the world, who struggle to believe that good things could be in their future. If that’s you, may this light, small that it is, remind you that there is hope.
Beloved siblings, it is our right to be whole. Hear Tamar's story. Let her story be a reminder that privilege and power have devastating effects on marginalized bodies.
Living in Right Relationships With Others
This morning, we need to have an open conversation about a problem that is plaguing every college campus in America - the problem to name it openly in the biggest venue we have on this campus - sexual assault. Yes, we need to talk about that, even in Chapel.
What's Love Got to Do With It?
Love is not supposed to hurt. No one should be loving you to death.
A Few Good Women
Who is this Jesus who blames her body, who suggests that she is not a good fit for his ministry because of the way that God created her? Who is this Jesus who fills us with the Spirit and then restricts us based on our flesh? Who is this Jesus who wouldn’t be caught dead or alive with a woman next to him?
He is the Jesus of our patriarchal imaginations, of our machismo, of our male ego. Because both the message of his arrival and his departure are given to women. Her mouth, her body was good enough for Jesus; why, then, is it not good enough for us?
A New Teaching With Authority
These women and girls came together, strengthened and supported by each other, to speak the truth of their horrific experiences and for once, the world listened. This is what casting out demons looks like in our world. This is what confronting evil directly looks like.
What Does It Mean to be Silenced?
Friends, I think that we have a lot of reflecting to do on who we, as a church, have silenced. In our theology, in our sacred Scripture, in our traditions, whose stories have we suppressed?
The Gospel According to Daddy's Girl: Incest as a Silent Killer in the Black Church
Even now, we rest in a gleaming sanctuary outfitted with the latest liturgical colors. And yet, there are members of our community whose seemingly picture-perfect worlds, are actually shattered at the core. And it’s only truthelling, love, and acceptance covered in worship, praise, and prayer that will help us gather these shards of personality and pain to create a mosaic truly becoming of the Body of Christ.
I Believe You — Speaking, Reclaiming, Listening
When we listen deeply, we can re-humanize, offering to each other a mirror which reflects back to us the beauty and worthiness of our being once again.
Sexual Violence Has No Place in Our Future
We’re going to move straight into communion today, into this physical reminder that Jesus isn’t just watching from afar, but that in Jesus, God has joined us in the whole human experience, including in any suffering. That God has been subject to violence and abuse and injustice, and has used that experience to know all of our pain, and to make a way forward toward new life and connection and redemption.
Shedding the Culture of Violence
Given these statistics, it is very likely that a good number of women and men in this room have been the victims of some form of domestic violence or sexual assault. I recognize this may be a difficult sermon for you, triggering painful memories. Please take care of yourself, be kind to yourself today. If you need to leave, please do. I will not be offended. And please know that this community is here to be of support to you, I am here to be of support to you. If you need someone to talk to, please reach out. And if you are currently in an abusive relationship or the victim of sexual assault, there are many resources available to you.
Be A Servant
When asked why she did it all, [Rosa Parks] famously said: “My cup of endurance runneth over.” Me too, Rosa Parks. Me too.
My cup ran over the day my eyes were opened to the many layers between me and the justice my own body has never received.
My cup ran over on the days I chanted with my city, my country: “I can’t breathe.”
My cup ran over when I read defenses of Harvey Weinstein and the many assaulters whose stories have been famously surfacing these days.
I Can't Believe the Bible Says That - the Trial by Ordeal
My brothers, we need to show that our masculinity doesn’t reach its height with sexual conquest or the domination of women in anyway. We reach the fullness of our masculinity when we can look at our sisters in Christ, and all women, and say to them, “I walk beside you and you walk beside me as together we seek to work toward the beloved community God desires the world to be.”
A Talk to Stop Domestic Violence
Alsobrooks: "Leaving often becomes the most dangerous point in a relationship. Because this is about power and control, we find that very often when we talk about homicide, it generally comes after leaving…We ask that people not announce, in many cases, the intention to leave until you have a plan in place."
The workplaces of our world, especially the church and the school, these need to be safe and protected places for children and young people to grow in faith and in knowledge.
What Would Jesus Say About the #metoo Movement?
321,000 [American women are assaulted] each year. Who’s doing this? Are they all people who are not in church? Or are they men who go to church who think this is somehow okay? I want to be very clear to the boys and men in the room and to any women who might also be assaulters, abusers, or harassers: sexually harassing, sexually assaulting, or in any other way physically or emotionally harming another human being is always wrong. And it’s something that God hates.
When Violence Comes Home
No man has the right to dominate His wife, to intimidate His wife, to abuse His wife! That is not love! It never has been, and it never will be love! Love is not selfish, it is giving! Love does not demand it’s own rights, or insist on it’s own way! Love is not arrogant or rude! Love is not irritable or abusive! Love is patient and kind. Love is how we treat each other—with tenderness, gentleness, kindness, understanding, and respect.
Sermon on Jesus Rolling His Eyes (And Also Divorce)
I thought how the hell is it that the church can manage to take a text meant to protect people and make sure violence is not done to them, and then use this same text to do violence to so many for so long?
This Is Us: Tamar's Story
It is not my intention to create trauma because of the subject matter, but many of us are on the edge of freedom but yet we are shackled by shame. This is us. This is the story of Tamar, the princess of the palace who encountered evil in her own home.
Before I begin I must offer a collective apology—this place called the pulpit has been used as a lectern to injure. I say to those who hear my voice across the internet and here in this space that we are sorry. We are sorry, Tamar, for not telling your story. We are sorry for hiding your chapter from our children, denying them the opportunity to confront the horror of human behavior and simultaneously learn about divine action.