It’s “us too” for Christian women, even in the Church

A couple of years ago a friend of mine and I went to the Calvin College Festival of Faith and Writing.

There, we met another Canadian writer, an older Christian man whom I had met before. I introduced him to my friend and told him some of her impressive writing credentials. I should note, my friend is also a very attractive woman. Our fellow writer clearly noticed that too. Instead of asking about her many professional accomplishments I had just listed off,  he puzzled out loud about what TV star she looked like, even inviting other men sitting nearby to join in the guessing.

Ridiculous. Was this sexual harassment? Probably not. But it was demeaning and stupid.

I know women — friends of mine who live and move and have their being in church world — who  who have had their behinds touched by Bishops, had faith leaders kiss them on the mouth uninvited, been told how beautiful they were in a weird way by their brothers in the faith, and had their personal space invaded by hugging that felt inappropriate and was uninvited.

I just took a stroll through the EFC Ottawa office to conduct an informal survey about the “me too” phenomenon. You won’t be surprised to hear my small sampling resulted in a 100% yes.

In our next issue of Faith Today, we have a very interesting story that looks at the safety of young women on Christian campuses. I will give you a sneak peek and assure you that studies show those Christian spaces are generally safer and have less incidence of sexual assault.

That’s as it should be.

It would be profoundly disturbing to think that a strong Christian faith and organizational culture does not make any kind of difference when it comes to sexual assault and unwanted attention paid to either gender. But it would be naive to think it always guarantees a harassment-free zone.

The experiences of countless Christian women I know, and the stories that come pouring out when the door to conversation is opened on this topic, provide a sobering testimony to the presence of this kind of sexual sin/bad behaviour in the Church.

Of all people, we can do better.

Karen Stiller is a senior editor of Faith Today

 

One thought on “It’s “us too” for Christian women, even in the Church”

  1. It appears that the Christian community has adopted the worlds definition of sexual harassment. Most of the examples given in this article were just guys short on social skills. When did being weird become a sin? We Christians claim that we are willing to forgive the big stuff just like Wilma Derksen did, whom FT interviewed, but would we really? We barely forgive people for being ugly or poor or old and especially not for being weird. We try to shun them out of the church.
    It appears that we care more about social sins than we do real sins. We chastise the weird for their sexual ‘harassment’, yet if someone actually commits adultery and if they are not ugly, poor or weird and of course they are not because who else gets to commit adultery, then we mutter something about the church being a safe place for sinners and let them keep their leadership roles.

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