Sarai could’ve said #MeToo (Genesis 12).
Dinah could’ve said #MeToo (Genesis 34).
Bathsheba could’ve said #MeToo (2 Samuel 11).
Tamar could’ve said #MeToo (2 Samuel 13).
Hagar (Genesis 16), Lot’s Daughters (Genesis 19), and the Levite’s Concubine (Judges 19) all could have said #MeToo.
And who would have listened? Who would have believed? Generations of biblical readers still aren’t appalled enough.
I wonder if the woman at the well (who Jesus took time to visit) or Mary Magdalene (one of Jesus’ first disciples) could’ve said, #MeToo, too? (John 4; Matthew, Mark, Luke).
The stories of women (and men) who’ve experienced sexual assault or abuse are stories of our faith. And we must read them in our context today. Not because we need to reconcile such acts as inevitable, but because we are called to listen and respond. We are called to remember and change the story.
Since the accusations against Judge Kavanaugh and renewal of clergy abuse allegations have surfaced, First Congregational members have spoken about resurging memories around their own experiences. Women who sit beside you in the pews; women who are your beloved family and friends. They have said, “Me Too: I have been wounded by sexual assault.”
I’m one of the lucky ones. My worst #MeToo story is only an “almost” assault, yet it still has been haunting me these last several weeks. In my mind I’ve been reliving the memories from seminary when a fellow student forced his way into my campus apartment. Reliving the confusion and fear as he pushed the door closed while I tried to hold it open with all my strength. Reliving the relief when I called to and was heard by other students walking by outside my door. Reliving the isolation and terror of walking around campus afterward.
Did I tell? Yes. I was foolish enough to tell the seminary administration so they could sit me in the same room with him for “conflict mediation.” Proceedings continued until “no proof” was found that this seminarian had done anything wrong. It was all a “misunderstanding.” Case closed. And as Kavanaugh’s accuser tries to explain why “nobody heard about any of this before,” I wonder if my fellow student is now an upstanding pastor in his own church with a congregation in which nobody has ever heard what he attempted in my apartment.
What do we learn from Sarai’s story? From Dinah’s story? From all the others speaking today? Are these stories of our faith? If so, we need to hear and respond. We are called to change the story. Amen.