What is it about some men that they believe they are entitled to prey on women sexually?
Is it about sex?
Or is it really about asserting power? Is that really why Boko Haram terrorists kidnap three hundred school girls in Africa and rape them? Is it why Hollywood producers are finally being called to account for taking advantage of their authority and power? Is it why some well-known media executives believe they are somehow entitled to have women at their beck and call? Is it why we have had presidents who have taken advantage of their high office to carry on affairs with staff in the White House? Finally, is it why some clergy have sex with congregants.
Will this behavior ever end?
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Two verses — one from the Hebrew Bible and one from the Christian Scriptures — typify how the Scriptures impact our values on sexual power relationships. In Genesis, God metes out the punishment to Adam and Eve for eating from the forbidden Tree of Knowledge. Eve will have pain in childbirth. Then the text says,”And your desire shall be to your husband, and he shall rule over you.”
In Ephesians, we find: “Wives, submit yourselves unto your husbands, as unto the Lord. For the husband is the head of the wife, even as Christ is the head of the church: and he is the savior of the body.”
How we interpret these verses in daily living varies from person to person and from region to religion. Yet, do these verses, indeed mean that men have divine rights to a women’s body?
Although we have made much progress regarding the rights of and respect for women, we still have a great deal to do. The Harvey Weinstein scandal has shown us that.
The biblical idea that the man literally rules over the woman must be eliminated from our thinking. There must be no more tolerance for rape. It violates every sacred law from all religious traditions.
One way we can address the issue and make meaningful change is through our youth. We cannot begin to diminish workplace sexual violence until we focus on the children and teens who grow up in a world where sex is everywhere, from social media to video games to television and the movies. Religious leaders should work with parents and incorporate these issues into the religious school curriculum. Simply to ignore it because it is an uncomfortable subject is a cop out. It reinforces from generation to generation the same old behaviors. It is exactly the subject that religious educators and clergy should be discussing.
Silence is a form of assent to the old order that endangers women’s lives and leaves permanent emotional scars.
Does not God want us to remember that sexual violence is a sin?
Doesn’t God have the right to expect better from us?
Shouldn’t we expect better from ourselves?