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Is the Church Ignoring Sexual Assault this Election?

  • Crosswalk Editorial
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  • 2016 Oct 11
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Last week, America’s already divisive presidential election took another turn for the worst. Video evidence surfaced of Republican candidate Donald Trump openly bragging about his numerous sexual assaults on women. The news set off a firestorm of controversy, with many Republicans formally withdrawing their support from Trump and condemning his actions on social media. Just a few notable names include Senator John McCain, former secretary of state Condoleezza Rice, and Speaker of the House, Paul Ryan. However, the news reverberated strongest through Christian circles, where many evangelical leaders have voiced support for Trump.

Trump’s predatory statements have caused one prominent Christian to desert his campaign altogether. Southern Baptist ethicist and theologian Wayne Grudem, who had previously penned an article in favor of Trump, wrote publically of his exodus online. However, as Russell Moore observed in a recent article for The Washington Post,

"...virtually all of the ‘reaffirmation of support’ for Trump, following the disclosure of his sexually predatory recorded comments, were from religious conservative leaders.”

This revelation poses a serious question for believers. Namely, why are so many evangelicals condoning sexual assault? Over at The Gospel Coalition, Joe Carter argues that Christians have lost perspective amidst the political climate. In their zeal to see the right Supreme Court justices are appointed, or ensure that religious liberty is maintained, believers have inadvertently compromised on other serious issues. He writes,

“In almost any other situation, an influential and powerful man who admitted to sexually harrassing and assaulting women would not be someone Christians would want to give even more power and influence. But too many evangelicals are justifying their own continued support of a self-professed assailant since it fulfills their own political preference (again, filling the empty seat on the Supreme Court). In doing so, they are legitimizing the culture of abuse against women.”

“These evangelicals are sending the message that to avoid a negative outcome, we must sometimes refuse to hold an assailant accountable. Using this same reasoning, a husband would be justified in telling his wife she must endure her boss’s groping since ‘she needs the job,’ and a teenage girl may reasonably assume she has a moral obligation to allow her mom’s boyfriend to molest her since they can’t pay the rent without him. The evangelical enablers may reject the idea that this is what they are condoning, but it’s the signal they are sending to America by their actions. After all, if avoiding a negative outcome is reason enough at the national level to justify vindicating sexual assault and harassment, how much more would it be applicable at the level of the individual?”

Carter concludes his message by looking back on the story of Adam and Eve in Genesis 3:12-13. Despite disobeying God’s expressed command, the two tried to rationalize their sin by shifting the blame.

“We are also stubborn in holding on to our sin,” laments Carter, “Especially when we think the consequences will vindicate our choices.”

It is his hope, along with countless other Christians, that the Church will come to rise above political battles and instead honor God with their actions. The degradation of women is a despicable act, and Christians have both a calling and a responsibility to stand against such inexcusable violations.

What are your thoughts? Do you believe the Church is doing enough to fight the sexual harassment of women? Leave your comments in the space below!

Published 10/11/16