Part Five

My 8-year old daughter loves dogs. I don’t mean she really likes dogs, that is ridiculous! No, she adores dogs. In fact, our almost daily ritual is for her to ask me which dog breed is my favorite. Since I’m sanctified, I obviously say, “Golden Retriever.” From there we go into a long discussion about when we can get a dog, where I return to my well-developed “we will once I get out of school” speech. After some back and forth she typically concedes and prepares herself for another day of trying.

This deep love for dogs, however, has one problem. You see, my daughter seeks out all local dogs to fulfill the dog-shaped hole in all of us. And yes, that is the weakest, most obvious corny Christian joke; nevertheless, the hole in her heart is real. Thus, whenever a dog is near, my daughter is there. She pets the dog and then enters into a prolonged discussion with the pet owner, retelling every conversation she and I have had about when we’re getting a dog, explaining to them that I love Golden Retrievers and that she is open to lots of different breeds. It’s about a 15 minute monologue.

So where’s the problem?

The problem is the world. 

You see, I’ve had to tell my daughter, this compassionate, interesting, fun, thoughtful, beautiful girl, that being friendly can be dangerous. Why?

Another report said that 1 in 5 women will be raped at some point in their lives (1 in 71 men). 20% of all women.

20%.

And tragically, sex trafficking is the fastest growing criminal enterprise in the world in which women and girls make up 98% of those trafficked. It is estimated that there are almost 21 million enslaved people in this “industry” worldwide.

These statistics are heartbreaking and unacceptable, and sadly many more could have been stated. Of course, these are not “statistics.” These numbers instead inadequately represent actual people –– people with hopes and dreams; with families and best friends; with God’s image and love.

To personalize it further, I invite you to slowly scroll through Facebook or any other social media platform this week and stop each time “me too” is posted. Consider your relationship with every person, and then take the time to understand what they are saying.

Statistical Passivity

A few months ago the Department of Education said that 90% of sexual assaults are due to alcohol. They later apologized, but within those inappropriate remarks lies a not-so-subtle cultural statement: if a woman is sexually assaulted, she is probably to blame; or, she at least did something or presented herself in a way that led to the assault.

What is sinfully ignored in sexual assault against women is the male abuser. He somehow fades into passive language, never even being hinted at. It is all about the woman who likely was asking for it and not about the man who committed an atrocious crime.

Let’s consider an actual situation. Just over a year ago, a judge in California sentenced Brock Turner to just six months in jail for raping an unconscious woman. The outcry over the ruling got even louder when the judge released the letters he had received from both Brock’s father and from the victim/survivor. The woman described the horrendously abusive event and how it forever changed her life. Brock’s father described that very same event simply as “20 minutes of action.”

The judge justified his lenient ruling by saying that a long jail sentence could negatively impact Brock’s life, and he has so much potential. What is striking, at least to me, about the ruling is that judicial decisions are typically based on evidence. And the judge’s claim that Brock won’t hurt anyone again, which appears to be part of the reason for such a weak ruling, is supposed to be rooted in what? A hunch? According to research or what might be called “evidence,” rapists typically enact multiple sexual assaults. The evidence, therefore, suggests that Brock will be a problem for society (i.e., women), and yet, his future as a white, athletic, Stanford, privileged male was in jeopardy! There really was only one option…

It would be naive to believe that there have never been false rape reports filed (around 7.1% are); however, as much as these ignorant people want to sound the alarm about “false reporting,” the vast majority of rape allegations are true and they almost always involve women victims/survivors.

Why is this being discussed here?

There is somewhere in the vicinity of 2.3 billion Christians in the world, and around 500 million of which are Pentecostals. I wonder, are we helping to fix this problem or are we contributing to it?

Let me ask it another way. Are the many forms of Christianity that promote male-dominated systems, which simultaneously tell women that their proper, God-designed role is to be submissive to the man’s choices and decisions, exacerbating things?

Pentecostals, those of us who promote the Spirit’s activity within us, the Spirit that empowers and fills all equally, should be on the fore of women’s rights. Those of us who are Pentecostal men should champion the cause, especially in contexts where women remain relegated to a secondary role. More so, we should repent of our misogynistic theology that is complicit in a society where women continue to be treated as an object that men get to decide how to treat. This issue must become active; we can no longer remain upset at sexual assault statistics without recognizing how we are involved.

Because you know what? Friendliness and interest in dogs should never be considered dangerous. 2.3 billion of us demanding change can affect that.


Note from the Editorial Team:
Engaged Pentecostalism is a community that values open dialogue and respectful engagement from different perspectives. The views expressed above are the author's own and do not reflect those of every part of the community.


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Joel Daniels

Author: Joel Daniels

Joel is currently a Chaplain-in-Resident and Ph.D. student at Georgetown University. His research focuses on how religious philosophy and ethics shape the world, life, and life in the world. When outside of academics, Joel enjoys all things family! With an amazing wife and three wonderful children, there is never a dull moment in the Daniels’ house. Whether it is building legos or forts, there’s always fun to be had!

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