Rise & Shine - October 14
Learning to Forgive in the Wake of Kavanaugh-Ford
The Rise and Shine discussion group meets Sunday mornings at 9:00 am in the Parlor. Adults from the 8:00 & 10:00 services gather for discussions that are relevant to their lives through the lens of a current topic and scriptural references. This week's discussion outline can be read or downloaded below.
Rise & Shine, October 14th
Matthew 7:7, 9-11
When they kept on questioning him, he straightened up and said to them, “Let anyone among you who is without sin be the first to throw a stone at her.” […] When they heard it, they went away, one by one, beginning with the elders; and Jesus was left alone with the woman standing before him. Jesus straightened up and said to her, “Woman, where are they? Has no one condemned you?” She said, “No one, sir.”And Jesus said, “Neither do I condemn you. Go your way, and from now on do not sin again.” (For context, read 8:1-11)
Question: Knowing we cannot know if Blasey Ford or Kavanaugh are being fully truthful or accurate, how can we move toward forgiving them both, seeing them both as God’s children, and treating victims and those accused with dignity and respect?
In the News
The Kavanaugh-Ford Hearing: Who is the Victim?
Expressing support for Judge Kavanaugh amidst claims of sexual misconduct by several women, President Donald Trump said last week that it was a "difficult" and "scary" time for young men in the US and mocked Christine Blasey Ford, one of the women who says she was assaulted by Kavanaugh.
The remarks come a year after the #MeToo movement toppled prominent Hollywood figures and thousands of women shared their experiences of sexual harassment. Donald Trump Jr. has also said he is more worried about his sons than his daughters.
Anxiety about false accusation is at the forefront of some young adults' minds.
One 2010 study found that 2-10% of rape accusations in the past 20 years were proven to be fake. That does not include unsubstantiated accusations where an investigation was unable to prove a sexual assault occurred, so an accurate figure for the total remains unknown.
"I was pretty sure sexual assault was more common than society was willing to admit, but I also am fairly certain that false accusations are more common than most of the #MeToo activists would like to think," suggests Aiden, a 23-year-old student in Arizona.
He admits he is more cautious now, including keeping both hands visible in group photos with women. "If society has the duty to protect women from the extreme minority of men who are offenders (and it does have that duty), shouldn't society also protect men from the extreme minority of false-accusers?" he adds.
"I'm hearing, 'if you don't believe her claim, you are re-victimizing her'. Since skepticism of a claim is heterodoxy, people will accept a claim either blindly or just to avoid being ostracized." In the US, one in six women is a victim of attempted rape and government data in 2016 suggested just 23% of assaults were reported.
Fear that public opinion is supplanting legal judgement also worries some young men. "Frankly, my behavior hasn't changed at all since the #MeToo movement," says Adam Peterson, a 29-year old father of one in Utah. Although he is pleased that survivors of sexual assault have a more powerful platform to speak from, he believes the movement is "overblown".
Some men are using the #MeToo movement as a platform to speak out in support of women. One 24-year-old recent graduate shared his experience of calling out male colleagues after two women at a previous workplace told him the men had been behaving inappropriately.
"The guys had been flirting and it was going overboard - asking the women to go to a club and a hotel afterwards, with the express interest of having sex," explained Callian Stokes. "I think it's a scary time for men that sexually harass and beyond, because they are afraid of getting caught or outed. Don't be a creep and learn to leave people alone if you don't already know that social skill," he added.
Another student, Nicholas Judd, said he has called out classmates and teachers at school for saying "boys will be boys" and that girls who dressed provocatively "deserved to be assaulted".
"I was appalled and spoke out against the popular belief that all accusers of important figures were lying," he explained, adding, "to counter the culture I am in, women should be given an equal voice to hold us more accountable".
Ohio student Parker Smith agreed, suggesting that some fear amongst men is a positive step. "If men's actions have become more cautious out of fear of being accused of harassment or assault, I say 'good, great!' They should."
The hearing featuring Judge Kavanaugh and Christine Blasey Ford has sparked feelings of hurt and outrage on both sides of the argument. Liz Spikol, a Philadelphia based writer and rape survivor, wrote a column about her reaction to the hearing.
“The circus going on around [Blasey Ford] seemed especially ridiculous knowing the kind of pain she was in, the effort she was making. The GOP had flown in a token woman to ask [her] questions, a gesture that proved, once again, that the all-male rank of Republicans see women as symbols rather than human beings. Meanwhile, every second that went by while some politician thanked Blasey Ford - so that he'd have a clip for his next campaign ad - she was hurting.
“When I watched Senator Richard Blumenthal's chin quiver as he proclaimed himself thankful, I just felt angry. The male prerogative of it all: We approve. We thank you. And now we're going to keep talking and signalling our solidarity for minute after minute while you sit there dying.
“If either side really valued her contribution and respected her pain, they would have let her get the hell out of there and go home. Sitting upright in that room was a huge accomplishment. Waiting through all the partisan blather was heroic.”
Many who have been falsely accused of rape or sexual misconduct have come out in support of Judge Kavanaugh as well. Bryan Kemper, Youth Outreach Director for Priests for Life, was molested by an adult relative as a child, and was later falsely accused of sexual assault.
“My relative is innocent in the eyes of the law unless he is proven guilty by a court of law. I know what he did to me and I have, in my heart, forgiven him. But I will never forget. Maybe one day I will have the strength to confront him,” Kemper wrote in an op-ed for the Washington Examiner.
“The woman who falsely accused me is equally innocent in the eyes of the law unless proven guilty in a court of law. I have also forgiven her for what she did. Maybe one day I will confront her.
“I know the most important thing I can do is pray for both of them, and I do. I must also teach my sons to be men of integrity who would never hurt someone like this. Likewise, I must teach my daughters to be women of integrity who would also never treat or hurt someone like this.”
This unique perspective of someone that can see both sides is all-too rare in this politically divisive environment. “My #MeToo moment has shown me a lot, and I hope it can teach others how to love, forgive, and survive in a world of hate,” Kemper concluded. “I turn to Christ and know my ultimate peace comes through him.”
More on this story can be found at these links:
I’ve Been Sexually Assaulted and Accused of Sexual Assault. Here’s What I Think of the Kavanaugh-Ford Hearing. TheWashington Examiner
Christine Blasey-Ford’s Testimony Through the Eyes of a Survivor. TheBBC
Brett Kavanaugh Accusations: Are Young Men in America Scared? TheBBC
Here are some Bible verses to guide your discussion:
So then, putting away falsehood, let all of us speak the truth to our neighbors, for we are members of one another. Be angry but do not sin; do not let the sun go down on your anger, and do not make room for the devil.
Question: What does being angry without sin look like when it comes to talking about politics, sexual assault, and the Kavanaugh hearings?
Luke 6:39, 41-42
He also told them a parable: “Can a blind person guide a blind person? Will not both fall into a pit? […] Why do you see the speck in your neighbor’seye, but do not notice the log in your own eye? Or how can you say to your neighbor,‘Friend, let me take out the speck in your eye,’ when you yourself do not see the log in your own eye? You hypocrite, first take the log out of your own eye, and then you will see clearly to take the speck out of your neighbor’seye.”
Questions: How are we blind when it comes to Ford-Kavanaugh? How have you or others around you been seeking to pick specks from others’ eyes, while ignoring the logs in your own?
Prayer for Guidance (BCP p.832)
O God, by whom the meek are guided in judgment, and
light rises up in darkness for the godly: Grant us, in all
our doubts and uncertainties, the grace to ask what you
would have us to do, that the Spirit of wisdom may save
us from all false choices, and that in your light we may see
light, and in your straight path may not stumble; through
Jesus Christ our Lord.Amen.