Monthly Archives: December 2017

On “Pigs,” Good Men, and the Difference

If I’ve said it once, I’ve said it a hundred times in this era of #MeToo: There are many good and godly men out there.

Unfortunately, guys, some of your gender have done such a terrible job representing that various women wonder at times whether all men are pigs. Or at least a high majority of men.

Blog post title + four pigs mucking about in a muddy spot within a field

Apparently it seems that you could stand in Hollywood, Corporate America, or Capitol Hill; yell, “Pig!”; and within earshot there would be a sexual harasser or assaulter who deserves the epithet. Our human tendency is to notice what’s askew in our environment rather than what’s normal, so we can end up focusing so much on the stink of the sty in our noses rather than the aroma of goodness from all the other men in our presence.

I know this is true, because when I walked out of the movie Blade Runner 2049, I was really glad my husband was walking beside me as a reminder of honorable masculinity. Otherwise, I might have fallen prey to a general rant about “men!” with a disgusted snort every minute or so.

Now I rarely see R-rated movies anymore. I just don’t want to be bombarded by all the filth along with the other stuff. So maybe this is the new standard, but the amount of female nudity shown in close-up was utterly appalling to me. It was not done in a particularly titillating way; however, it was as if they thought nothing whatsoever of saying to an actress, or rather several actresses, “Hey, strip down, and we’re going to show off your body.” And there was no story reason why private parts had to be shown. Every single point they wanted to make could have been made with strategic hints and better filming.

I emerged from the darkness of the theater with my muscles clenched, nausea in my stomach, and my head reeling. I went off for a full three minutes or so—bless my patient husband—about how the film was written by men, directed by a man, had starring roles for men, and what did they do? They treated women like sex objects, to be displayed and used in whatever way the men wanted.

Yes, the actresses went along with it, and that does not make me happy. Plenty of times I’ve wanted to say to some woman, “Please stop! Your willingness to be treated purely as a sex object makes things worse for the rest of us.”

And in a world that consumes porn like air, I guess I shouldn’t be so shocked by a flesh-filled, R-rated film. But I’m still regularly shocked by blatant mistreatment of women.

I'm still regularly shocked by blatant mistreatment of women. Click To Tweet

Unfortunately, too many “pigs” exist, who belittle women as little more than a collection of sexual body parts. Who watch porn daily with no remorse, who argue with me on my blog or Facebook that lusting after women is just what men do, who harass and assault women for their own jollies, who blame women for their willingness to go along with the sex object fantasy, who expect their own wives to be their personal porn star. Yeah, there are plenty of men mucking around in the mud of the pen.

But like I said, I walked out of that theater with my good and godly husband. So I kept my post-movie rant directed at the “pigs” out there, not men in general.

I am blessed to have amazing men in my life! My husband and my sons don’t treat women poorly. I have male friends who are upstanding husbands and fathers and spiritual leaders, for whom respect of women is given. And many men out there are just as bothered by sexual harassers and assaulters as many of us women are.

Have these men never struggled with lust? Have they have never responded viscerally to an unclad woman on screen? Has porn never been an issue for them? No, some have struggled with these issues. But they have overcome or continue to improve, because they get it — they understand that the difference between a “pig” and a good man is this:

“Then [Jesus] turned toward the woman and said to Simon, ‘Do you see this woman?'” (Luke 7:44)

Jesus knew Simon literally saw the woman. Before this verse comes this passage:

A woman in that town who lived a sinful life learned that Jesus was eating at the Pharisee’s house, so she came there with an alabaster jar of perfume. As she stood behind him at his feet weeping, she began to wet his feet with her tears. Then she wiped them with her hair, kissed them and poured perfume on them.

When the Pharisee who had invited him saw this, he said to himself, “If this man were a prophet, he would know who is touching him and what kind of woman she is—that she is a sinner” (Luke 7:36-39).

Jesus is asking if Simon really sees her—sees beyond the “kind of woman she is” to the woman God created her to be. Does Simon really see the person there? A person who deserves, just by being made in the image of God, to be treated with gentleness and respect.

Good men use their unique gifts to protect women, as Jesus spoke up for this woman in the presence of other men. Good men really see the women they interact with.

As I once said to my son, “Look, I get it: Women have very interesting parts. But remember that they are more than their parts.”

Want to stay out of the pig pen? Treat women like Jesus did. You can find some great examples in these passages:

Mark 5:24-34
Luke 10:38-42
John 4:1-26
Luke 7:36-50

And if you’re ever struggling, men, ask yourself Jesus’s question: Do you see this woman? 

Pray for My Inbox

Blog post title + email envelope with cursor pointing at it

In the past couple of weeks, I’ve been really thinking about my email inbox, and how many wonderful readers have reached out to tell me their personal story and ask for advice. There really is no end to the questions people have about sexual intimacy in their marriages, and so many of them are excellent inquiries that deserve answer.

But here’s the thing. This is what my current inbox looks like:

Display of j@hotholyhumorous.com inbox title with 333 messages

At this point, the earliest message in my 333-message inbox dates back to May 2016. That’s probably when the tipping point happened: When I could no longer respond to all the messages, because there were just so many and I am just, well, me. As much as I’d love to borrow Santa’s elves to contract out the important work of gifting people with advice, I don’t have that perk. I just cannot get to all the queries — not anywhere near it.

Now, I do read each and every one. But if I tried to answer them all, I’d probably never write another word here on the blog and my family would, at some point, open the pantry and refrigerator to find them bare. (Yes, my guys know where the store is and are capable, but in my house, division of labor means grocery shopping is my task.)

What I can do is:

1. Answer the ones I can, either in a personal email or a post. And those tend to be questions that I haven’t answered before or dire situations.

Oftentimes, the questioner could find something relevant on my blog by using the search bar up there. (Or type in “Hot Holy Humorous” and your topic in Google, and you sometimes get better results that way.) And really, truly … buy one of my books! I have a lot of answers in those.

Intimacy Revealed Cover

2. Pray for the ones I can’t answer. Look, I think I’m good at what I do — writing about sexuality from a Christian perspective — or I wouldn’t do it. But I have no false notions about who really does the work, makes the changes, improves sexual intimacy in marriage: it’s not me. At all. It’s the spouses themselves and God. I am not a required component for these marriage beds to get better.

Moreover, I’m not the only one with insight in the area of sexual intimacy. Thankfully, the number of voices speaking up well for godly sex in marriage has increased in the last ten years, and some counselors and pastors also address this issue very well. Sometimes, what I pray is that the questioners will find help elsewhere, especially when a couple likely needs local counseling or coaching.

What I ask today is that my readers add these questioners to their prayer list. God knows their names. You only have to pray for those seeking righteous answers for difficult challenges in their marriage beds.

Pray for those seeking righteous answers for difficult challenges in their marriage beds. Click To Tweet

You can specifically mention “Hot, Holy & Humorous’s inbox,” if you wish. Or cry out more broadly for a revival of healthy and holy marriage beds in the Church and in our society.

Praying specifically for people by name is a wonderful thing, and what I get to do when I receive these emails. But the Bible has many precedents of believers praying for large groups of people, distinguishing them by their status or behaviors. Jesus Himself prayed “not only for these disciples but also for all who will ever believe in me through their message” (John 17:20). That’s a pretty big group of people.

My inbox represents so many issues Christians face in the realm of marital intimacy: minor problems that need fixing, questions about right and wrong regarding sexual intimacy, worry or resentment toward spouses who’ve sexually misbehaved, sexual baggage dragged into the marriage from prior painful experiences, the vast gamut of libido concerns, and more.

When you pray for my inbox, you’re praying for marriages. And marriage beds.

God is concerned about those marriage beds too. Let’s bring these people before His throne and ask for His presence, His guidance, His answers.

Q&A with J: What about All the Sexual Misconduct Allegations?

Last week, I answered a specific question posed by a reader about sexual misconduct and modesty, and how they might or might not relate. Not surprisingly, there was some disagreement in the comments section. A few times, I found myself defending against charges that I wasn’t siding with victims. Which, for those who’ve been around me lately, was surprising — I’ve been ranting quite a bit to people I know personally about how thrilled I am with this whole #MeToo movement.

In hindsight, I probably should have explained my whole take on the situation before answering last week’s question, so when a related question landed in my inbox, I decided it was worth tackling:

I was writing to ask just now about your thoughts on the plethora of sex abuse allegations….

Do you sense or feel any effect on frank discussions of sex with this sex abuse scandal going on? Any reluctance to really say what’s on your mind, or how you’re feeling? … How about other readers? Do they sense any inhibition or freeze up in the wake of all this, or do you sense it from them?

… I get the feeling that distrust of men has escalated with each new report or allegation. Not that I have been accused of anything even verbally. It’s more a sense of malaise taken to a new level.

I have a LOT of thoughts about the plethora of sex abuse allegations. How much time do you have?

Since you probably have other things to do than read a thesis-length treatise on sexual harassment, abuse, and assault, I’ll keep my thoughts to the highlights and trust readers to understand that I cannot cover every aspect of this topic in a single blog post.

Blog post title + man covering face with hand and many fingers pointing at him in accusation

In short, I’m 100% behind victims coming forward and telling their stories, others believing and taking them seriously, and harassers and assaulters paying a price for their inexcusable behavior.

As someone who advocates for sex in marriage by God’s design, I’ve been involved in many discussions, read many resources, and heard many stories about where married couples are sexually. And I know with absolute certainty that spouses who have been sexually harassed, assaulted, and abused have a more difficult time embracing God’s gift of intimacy.

Spouses who have been sexually harassed, assaulted, and abused have a much more difficult time embracing God's gift of intimacy. Click To Tweet

But I want to look at this issue biblically, so let’s take two stories from the Bible that deal with this topic.

Joseph. After being sold by his brothers into slavery, Joseph was taken to the home of an Egyptian officer named Potiphar. Then Genesis 39:7-12 tells us:

And after a time his master’s wife cast her eyes on Joseph and said, “Lie with me.”  But he refused and said to his master’s wife, “Behold, because of me my master has no concern about anything in the house, and he has put everything that he has in my charge. He is not greater in this house than I am, nor has he kept back anything from me except you, because you are his wife. How then can I do this great wickedness and sin against God?” And as she spoke to Joseph day after day, he would not listen to her, to lie beside her or to be with her.

But one day, when he went into the house to do his work and none of the men of the house was there in the house, she caught him by his garment, saying, “Lie with me.” But he left his garment in her hand and fled and got out of the house.

Definitely sexual harassment.

Now, Joseph didn’t report her actions. As a slave, to whom would he have complained? Who would have believed him? Indeed, we find out that, despite being promoted to a high position in Potiphar’s household, he wasn’t believed when Potiphar’s wife claimed that Joseph was the one doing the harassing. Instead, he was thrown into prison, where he remained for more than two years.

Yes, God redeemed that situation (see Genesis 50:20), but sexual harassment wasn’t God’s doing. It was an injustice done to Joseph.

Tamar. Tamar was King David’s daughter by one wife, while Amnon was his son by another. Amnon declared that “I’m in love with Tamar, my brother Absalom’s sister,” but it wasn’t love. Rather, “Amnon became so obsessed with his sister Tamar that he made himself ill. She was a virgin, and it seemed impossible for him to do anything to her.”

Just think about that: He was upset because he thought he couldn’t “do anything to her” — a completely selfish perspective. Yet he did do something: He pretended to be ill and asked for food to be brought to him by Tamar. 2 Samuel 13:7-14 explains:

David sent word to Tamar at the palace: “Go to the house of your brother Amnon and prepare some food for him.” So Tamar went to the house of her brother Amnon, who was lying down. She took some dough, kneaded it, made the bread in his sight and baked it. Then she took the pan and served him the bread, but he refused to eat.

“Send everyone out of here,” Amnon said. So everyone left him. Then Amnon said to Tamar, “Bring the food here into my bedroom so I may eat from your hand.” And Tamar took the bread she had prepared and brought it to her brother Amnon in his bedroom. But when she took it to him to eat, he grabbed her and said, “Come to bed with me, my sister.”

“No, my brother!” she said to him. “Don’t force me! Such a thing should not be done in Israel! Don’t do this wicked thing. What about me? Where could I get rid of my disgrace? And what about you? You would be like one of the wicked fools in Israel. Please speak to the king; he will not keep me from being married to you.” But he refused to listen to her, and since he was stronger than she, he raped her.

Amnon used deceit, verbal pressure, and finally his physical strength to sexually assault her. Then Amnon’s obsession turned to hatred, and he threw Tamar out.

Later, verse 21 says, “When King David heard all this, he was furious.” That’s it. Their father, the king, was furious, but he did nothing. Nothing whatsoever! The outcome was that an even more furious Absalom determined to get rid of both his brother and his father, thus becoming a thorn in the kingdom for several years. And Tamar? She lived out her days in her brother’s home, feeling utterly ruined.

What if the people around Joseph and Tamar had responded differently? What if Potiphar’s wife had been caught harassing him and Potiphar had sided with his servant instead? What if King David had held his predator son responsible for his sin against Tamar?

God worked His sovereign plan in spite of these bad events. But these incidents took a toll on their victims.

If these events happened today, what side would we be on? How might we intervene? And what does our answer tell us about how we should respond to the current slew of sexual misconduct allegations?

1. We cannot ignore sexual harassment, abuse, and assault. Ignoring what’s happened won’t make it go away (just ask King David), and we need to be squarely on the side of the victims.

This problem didn’t just start happening. It happened to Joseph and Tamar thousands of years ago. And it’s happened throughout history in various ways. Sometimes, the misconduct was more overt, sometimes more secret … but it’s always been with us.

What’s new is the public airing of accusations, spurred on by the #MeToo movement that began with stories about Hollywood mogul Harvey Weinstein, a man who was clearly disliked by many. But as I write this, the most recent powerful man to face consequences for sexual harassment is Matt Lauer, a TV anchor long beloved by his audience. You see, perpetrators run the gamut of people we might have known to be bad to people we really thought were good.

But sin that is obvious and sin that isn’t aren’t different to God. He sees it all.

Who can hide in secret places
    so that I cannot see them?”
declares the Lord.
    “Do not I fill heaven and earth?”
declares the Lord(Jeremiah 23:24)

Nothing in all creation is hidden from God’s sight. Everything is uncovered and laid bare before the eyes of him to whom we must give account (Hebrews 4:13).

We have to be willing to believe accusations, whether the sinfulness comes from someone we expected it from or someone we didn’t. Yet in the wake of many revelations, some people don’t want to believe certain allegations despite credible witnesses and corroborating evidence.

Let’s face it: To each story, we bring personal baggage, prejudices, and politics. But we have to intentionally set those aside and let our Christianity outweigh our biases or longings for truth to go one way or another.

Consider that Potiphar wanted to believe his wife. So he did. But that didn’t mean she wasn’t a sexual harasser. Let’s not make the same mistake.

2. False accusations will also happen. Among the many credible victims, there will be some opportunists who make up allegations. Joseph was wrongly accused of being a sexual harasser, and it cost him dearly. Being labeled a sexual harasser, assaulter, or abuser can carry serious negative consequences, especially in our current climate.

It’s terrible when resources and good will are wasted by the deceit of someone claiming a violation or crime that never happened. For example, if law enforcement are tied up investigating a fabricated “rape,” that’s less time they have to spend investigating a real rape. Not to mention the damage to the person wrongfully accused.

However, false allegations aren’t as common as one might think. I did a bit of research and took a rather skeptical approach, leaning toward “yeah, some people lie.” Even then, it’s maybe 1 in 10 accusations that are false. And false allegations tend to be personal, like an accusation of abuse that accompanies a child custody battle. When repeatedly rejected and left with Joseph’s cloak in her hand, Potiphar’s wife had a reason to lie about what happened. But most accusers don’t. What would be the payoff that’s worth the cost?

But let’s take our cues from the Bible again. You’ve probably heard about the “two witnesses” standard in the Bible:

One witness is not enough to convict anyone accused of any crime or offense they may have committed. A matter must be established by the testimony of two or three witnesses” (Deuteronomy 19:15).

Do not admit a charge against an elder except on the evidence of two or three witnesses” (1 Timothy 5:19).

Clearly, God doesn’t want people to go down for something they didn’t do. And this is why allegations with more than one accuser, or several, are more credible. Most harassers and assaulters don’t target a single person; they repeat their misconduct.

However, it’s interesting that a few chapters later in Deuteronomy, sexual assault is dealt with this way: “But if out in the country a man happens to meet a young woman pledged to be married and rapes her, only the man who has done this shall die” (Deuteronomy 22:25). In this scenario, there are no witnesses but the young woman herself — “for the man found the young woman out in the country, and though the betrothed woman screamed, there was no one to rescue her” (v. 27) — and yet she is apparently to be believed.

Regardless, Deuteronomy 19:16-19 also says:

 If a malicious witness takes the stand to accuse someone of a crime, the two people involved in the dispute must stand in the presence of the Lord before the priests and the judges who are in office at the time. The judges must make a thorough investigation, and if the witness proves to be a liar, giving false testimony against a fellow Israelite, then do to the false witness as that witness intended to do to the other party. You must purge the evil from among you.

Our responsibility is to make sure there’s a “thorough investigation.” Most allegations are not false, but an accuser could be lying and we should take that into consideration.

3. We have to draw distinctions. Joseph’s story and Tamar’s story are not the same. They were both victims who deserved compassion and justice, but Joseph getting harassed was not as bad as Tamar getting raped. In fact, despite the horrible jail time, Joseph came back, got married, and had children (Genesis 41:45, 50). Meanwhile, Tamar lived out her days with her brother Absalom, “a desolate woman” (2 Samuel 13:19-20).

Some of what’s gotten lost at times in all of the current revelations is understanding that sexual misconduct exists on a continuum. We cannot lump everyone in categories of “predator” and “victim.” Yes, those are accurate labels in many ways, but equating one person’s verbal harassment with another person’s sexual assault is ignoring degrees that matter. It’s like slapping and stabbing are both violence, but we intuitively understand that the latter has a greater impact on the victim and deserves a far worse consequence for the perpetrator.

Romans 5:6 says, “God ‘will repay each person according to what they have done.’” Likewise, our treatment of the perpetrator should be equal to the crime.

That said, our treatment of sexual harassers, assaulters, and abusers has historically been unequal to their misconduct in the sense of being far too little, and the current movement to stir up tangible consequences for those who have behaved so poorly is long overdue. For the vast majority of those getting a bit of comeuppance right now, my response is “About time!”

Yet, I’m also cognizant of the need to avoid what my father referred to as “falling off the other side of the horse.” That is, when you’ve leaned too far to one side, it’s tempting to over-correct by leaning too far to the other side. I haven’t seen much of this happening yet, but we should guard against it by making truth and justice our guiding principles.

4. The antidote to bad sexuality is good sexuality. The questioner in particular asked: “Do you sense or feel any effect on frank discussions of sex with this sex abuse scandal going on? Any reluctance to really say what’s on your mind, or how you’re feeling? … How about other readers? Do they sense any inhibition or freeze up in the wake of all this, or do you sense it from them?

I can’t speak for my readers, but I haven’t sensed anything different. What I do know is that I have no reluctance to say what’s on my mind. (Which is probably what gets me into trouble sometimes…)

But I firmly believe that the antidote to Satan’s terrible messages about sexuality is God’s truth about sexual intimacy.

The antidote to Satan's terrible messages about sexuality is God's truth about sexual intimacy. Click To Tweet

If we want a world in which fewer people sexually harass and abuse and assault others, we need to proclaim what God says about our bodies and our hearts and our sexuality. God says that we have intrinsic worth and are not to be used or abused by anyone for their power or pleasure. God says that sexual activity belongs in the covenant bond of marriage. God says sexual intimacy is to be consensual, mutual, and intimate.

When more of us understand what sex is supposed to be, as created by our Heavenly Father, we’ll be better able to spot those times when someone is behaving outside of His will. We’ll know when we’re being harassed or abused, recognize that it’s not the victim’s fault, and take steps to stop it. We’ll have courage to pursue the best of sexual intimacy and oppose the worst behavior in the sexual realm.

And yes, questioner, we’ll know it’s not all men. It’s nowhere near all men. So many good and godly men exist. For me, one of the best outcomes of the #MeToo movement has been watching my two sons, high school and college age, respond with just as much disgust at creepy men who harassed and assaulted women. They don’t understand why any man would do that.

We women would be wise to remember that, even if the men in our lives sometimes don’t fully understand all the ways in which we’ve been impacted by sexual harassment and assault, most of them would never do what the harassers/assaulters have been accused of doing. Let’s keep our perspective that too many men are behaving badly, but it’s still a small minority.

Like I said, I didn’t cover everything I could say (even though Leo Tolstoy himself would be proud of my wordiness). Perhaps you can summarize your thoughts more succinctly in the comments!

So what’s your take “on the plethora of sex abuse allegations”?

Is Seasonal Depression Impacting Your Marriage?

I had other ideas lined up to write about today, but when I sat down and looked at my cursor flashing on the blank screen, I felt this urge wash over me … as if something, someone, was telling me that I needed to come clean today. To spill about a struggle I’ve gone through in hopes that I can provide empathy and support to others going through the same thing.

I’ve written about it before, but I have a propensity toward depression. It’s not some weakness in me; it’s my biology. If you have the same propensity, know that it’s neither an emotional nor a spiritual weakness in you. It’s just that so many processes and chemicals are involved in regulating mood, and sometimes the balance isn’t quite right for some of us.

Most of the time, I’m fine — depression-less, if you will. But this time of year — wintertime in my neck-of-the-woods — can be a challenge for my mood.

This type of depression is called Seasonal Affective Disorder, or SAD (“affect” in psychology refers to emotion or disposition). SAD can occur in any season, but wintertime is especially difficult for some. Depression can occur at this time of year due to shortened days and reduced sunlight, which causes a drop in serotonin levels (serotonin regulates mood), increased melatonin (a chemical that helps us sleep), and disruption to our circadian rhythm (that is our “inner clock”).

Seasonal Affective Disorder can be mild, moderate, or rather pronounced, even leading to suicidal thoughts. Regardless, it takes a toll on the sufferer and their marriage.

Blog post title + sad woman staring out a window

At a time when everyone else seems to be more cheerful than ever with seasonal decorations and social events and proclamations of “Merry Christmas!” the person with SAD is struggling to get the regular to-dos done as well as all the extras. Because they’d much rather crawl back into bed and sleep a while longer, like past noon.

SAD sufferers may be lethargic or tearful or grumpy — not exactly the kind of person their spouses want to hang out with. Even when that marvelous romantic date happens, they may return from just those few hours completely tuckered out and wanting to hibernate once again.

And sex? Well, that takes energy. Which is the one thing sorely lacking during a SAD spell. If the spouse’s libido is high enough normally, they may still want to make love regularly, or regularly enough. But if they started with a lower libido? Sex can be a real challenge.

Right this moment, Seasonal Affective Disorder is impacting many spouses and their marriages.

Right this moment, Seasonal Affective Disorder is impacting many spouses and their marriages. Click To Tweet

If that is you, I know where you’re coming from. It’s impacting me and mine too. The last couple of weeks, I’ve been sleeping more, lacking energy, and even found my eyes watering at times. Thankfully, I knew what it was: not some problem with me or my marriage, but my biology off-kilter at this time of year. I explained the situation to my husband and started working on solutions.

What can you do when faced with Seasonal Affective Disorder?

  • Get outside. While the sun is shining, get out there in it. I live in an area where the temperatures don’t get so cold that I can’t go out most days, so I’ve determined to make my back porch an outside home office whenever I can. That’s not possible for some of you. But think creatively and find times and ways to spend at least some moments outside.
  • Exercise. Exercise boosts production of serotonin, which elevates our mood. You could make those outside moments a walk or jog through the park, or you can head to an exercise class, or just dance around your house in your jammies. Whatever works to get you moving, find a way to exercise.
  • Light therapy. Daylight helps alleviate the symptoms of SAD, and you can buy products that mimic sunlight to help reset your inner clock. You can spend some of your day sitting a few feet from a light therapy box (like this one) to get the right brain chemicals going, or you can try a “dawn simulator” (like this one), which is essentially an alarm clock that uses imitation sunlight to wake you up and get your body on track.
  • Antidepressants. Some SAD sufferers may require medication to properly regulate mood during this season. Especially if you’re experiencing extreme depression, including any suicidal thoughts, you need to see a doctor and get whatever help you can. Some antidepressants do have an impact on libido, so you might ask about that when you discuss options with your physician.
  • Prayer. This one isn’t in the medical manual, but I’ve definitely turned to prayer in moments when I’m teary for no good reason or feeling like snapping at a family member because I don’t feel good. While still pursuing ways to alleviate the core issue (SAD), it helps to pray for perspective, strength, and joy. God has delivered that to me in various moments.

Be sure to communicate to your spouse what’s going on. If they’re not so sure that it’s a physiological issue, point them to expert resources, like this page on the Mayo Clinic site. Don’t use SAD as an excuse to check out of your marriage, but rather involve your spouse and take action to reduce the symptoms and get your joyful and sexy self back.

That’s what I’m doing this season. And I pray that you will have a cheer-filed season as well!

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Praying for the Victims of #MeToo

On Saturdays, I’ve been posting about prayers that involve sexual intimacy in your marriage. With my recent Q&A post, and one I have planned about that issue next week, I thought it would be a good time to pause and pray for those who have experienced sexual assault, abuse, and harassment.

Blog Post Title with close-up of woman praying in background

The current wave of allegations and the many #MeToo stories have prompted our nation, and others, to take a look at the culture that has far too long overlooked, dismissed, or opposed those who have been victims of sexual mistreatment.

Sometimes I hear people say this is a recent problem, but it’s not. The Bible mentions sexual harassment and assault. For instance:

  • Dinah’s brothers took revenge on the man (and his family) who raped their sister, saying that she was “defiled” (See Genesis 34).
  • Boaz told his men not lay a hand on Ruth as she gleaned in his fields, indicating that he knew overseers used their positions to approach and even harass women. (See Ruth 2:1-9).
  • King David’s son Amnon lied to his half-sister to get her into his room (sound like any of the “come to my hotel room” harassment stories?) and then raped her. (See 2 Samuel 13:1-22).

What’s recent is the ongoing news headlines and the tangible consequences befalling perpetrators of harassment and assault.

In the wake of all this, plenty of women have felt triggered by the news, by the personal stories, by the discussions. Some have responded with anger, some with sorrow, some with numbness. Some have had to step away because bringing up the memories makes the wounds sting once again.

For all of you — in whatever way you’ve been abused, assaulted, or harassed — I want to offer a prayer.

For all of you—in whatever way you've been abused, assaulted, or harassed—I want to offer a prayer. Click To Tweet

Lord, Father,

We know it breaks Your heart when Your children mistreat Your other children. May it always break our hearts too!

In this time of #MeToo, we are like Jeremiah who proclaimed, “What I see brings grief to my soul because of all the women of my city” (Lamentations 3:51). So many women have come forward with stories of sexual  assault and harassment they endured, and it brings grief to our souls. Men too have been victims and struggle to tell their stories as well, and for them our hearts ache.

God, the sexuality that You created for good, Satan has twisted and nudged others to use for their own pleasure and their own gain. People in positions of power, financially or culturally or physically, have abused those to whom they owed honor (Matthew 20:25-28, Luke 14:7-11). At times, it seems that such people prosper without consequences, that they are getting away with mistreatment and even evil toward others.

“But you, God, see the trouble of the afflicted; you consider their grief and take it in hand” (Psalm 10:14). We commit all victims to you, the helper of the fatherless and defender of the oppressed (see Psalm 10:-13-18). 

We pray for Your justice — that You will “call the evildoer to account for his wickedness that would not otherwise be found out” (v. 15). Make us Your vessels of justice, giving us the courage to speak out against oppressors and to seek justice for those wronged.

We pray for Your mercy — that You will “hear the desire of the afflicted,” “encourage them,” and “listen to their cry” (v. 17). Blanket them with Your presence. Make us Your vessels of mercy, giving us compassion to reach out to those oppressed and to provide comfort for their hurt.

We know that You understand the pain so many have gone through. High-ranking people used their power to mistreat Your one and only Son. Jesus Christ was disrespected, dishonored, and abused in so many ways. He was stripped and mocked (Matthew 27:27-29), mercilessly beaten (John 19:1-3), and crucified on a cross (Luke 23:33). Because Your Son has been there, Lord, You understand and know the pain so many have felt.

When it comes to marriage, some with #Me Too stories have brought bad feelings about sex, or even men, into their relationship. They struggle with wounds and triggers and baggage that don’t seem to go away. Lord, lift that burden! We pray that they will take Your yoke instead, the one that is easy, and thus find rest for their souls (Matthew 11:28-30). Help these victims to see Your plan for sexual intimacy and to view it as a beautiful gift. Give them Your perspective of their husbands and/or their sexuality, so that they can fully enjoy the blessings you have in store, both for them and their marriage.

For those who have assaulted and harassed, Lord, we pray that You will to prick their hearts. Show them that confession and repentance is the way to healing. Help them avoid sexual misconduct in the future and to “learn to control your own body in a way that is holy and honorable, not in passionate lust like the pagans, who do not know God” (1 Thessalonians 4:3-5). Do not let them be deceived by the lure of power, but rather turn their hearts to showing respect and care for those in their midst.

God, make Your Church the community that can lead the way. Help us to promote the biblical command to “show proper respect to everyone” (1 Peter 2:17), to be the light of the world and the city on a hill showing what should be (Matthew 5:14-16) in how we treat one another and those we encounter. Help us to see clearly what is happening in our midst and to take action when we should.

Your Word tells us that “The Lord works righteousness and justice for all the oppressed” (Psalm 103:6). Be ever-present in this time in our history, this “#MeToo movement,” when wrong deeds are coming to light and we as Christians have an opportunity to join the path of righteousness and justice.

And God, right now, this very moment, someone is being abused, assaulted, harassed. Give them a voice. Guide the faithful to be there to listen and to support the victim. Help us to stop these cycles as much as we can. Lord, we know that evil will be with us until You come again, but each person we can help matters to You. May every one of them matter just as much to us.

In the name of Your blessed Son, and through the Holy Spirit,

Amen.

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