I have been heart broken every time I read of a news about sexual assault of any kind on women. The latest two stories I read of was a rape of 6 year old girl by her school teacher in Bangalore, and another 7 year old girl gang-raped in West Bengal. These are just two of the many reports that make it to the media. A major number of crimes against women go unreported because of social status, media frenzy, and the shame and humiliation the girl has to face at the hands of the society.
How equipped are we, the church, to respond to these incidents and to embrace its victims? I have often seen and witnessed the church side with the world in their response to such incidents. How should we handle this in the future? What should we be doing different? Can I dream aloud with you? Let us believe that the church will embrace the same culture.
1. Justice, though not the solution, is essential.
Because of the cruel and heinous nature of crimes against women, the world always demands for justice that come in the way of the godly principles of forgiveness, restoration etc. There are two truths we need to know and understand. The first one is that, justice is not the solution. We shouldn’t see the punishment borne by the perpetrator of crime to be end of the story. No amount of punishment can turn human heart away from its wickedness. Only the love of Jesus that invades the heart of the perpetrator can change his life for good.
Does that mean that justice is not required? When Jesus had mercy on the thief on the cross, he didn’t get him off the cross. The thief still had to die, as per the law of the land at that time. There are times when God divinely rescue people from the clutches of the law of the land, but we cannot make that a rule and expect God to do so always. God is a just God, so should be the government and the laws of our land.
Hence to establish justice, it is necessary that the church stand with the laws of the land in these matters and at the same time work effectively to reach the perpetrators of these crimes with the message of Jesus.
2. Restoration for victims, by grace, through faith.
There are many reported victims of crimes who resort to various vengeful vices, and some to end their life, because they feel so disgusted, discouraged and abused with the nature of these crimes. Others are filled with shame and guilt, leading to a bondage over their souls, inhibiting them to live in complete freedom. There is no amount of rehabilitation or psychological counseling that can help restore a rape victim. They might be able to help the person feel good about themselves, but none of them can help “restore” a person to completeness and the freedom of spirit that Jesus brings.
This gift of Jesus is absolutely free. They do not have to do anything to receive it, except to put one’s faith in Christ and receive the grace He offers us for our lives.
The church has to learn to boldly embrace and love these victims. Each of them are created in the image of God and Jesus has died on the cross for the salvation of their souls. I am dreaming of the days when the government and the police will be looking for a church, because of the generosity of the Spirit that fills the Church.
3. Tolerating Sexual Crimes within the Church?
This is a matter of great confusion and concern to the Church. How do we handle sexual crimes within itself? Should the Church bring it to the notice of the law of the land, or try to deal with it within itself? There are various approaches to this. But my approach to it is the one of seeking the help of law enforcers if a grievous crime has been committed. Irrespective of whether the victim is willing to press charges or not, it becomes the responsibility of the Church and her elders to bring it to the notice of the law.
Many wouldn’t agree with me on this, since there are scriptures in the bible that expect us to solve our disputes within the church, than taking each other to court. But a matter of crime against a daughter of God is not another dispute.
This is not to say that our justice comes from the law or the courts of the land. Absolutely not. Our Justice comes from the Lord. God is our judge. However, if we do not bring the crimes to the notice of the cops, people will be of the notion that church tolerates such crimes, and thus, can be taken advantage of. That is a place we never want to be in. Hence to protect our daughters, sisters and mothers, we should make sure we be firm on this one area.
4. How does awareness help? Should we do it?
Does it help to educate young girls on these matters? Of course yes! Should the church do it? Yes surely. Not necessarily in a Sunday morning sermon series, but surely in the privacy of homes, by parents or guardians with whom they will be comfortable with.
But I think it makes more sense to educate our boys and the men in the church. Teach them to be role models of men in the society, and advise them the harmful effects of vices like porn and unguarded relationships. One thing we lack the most in the Church and outside alike is role models of men who treat women with the respect that God intended them to be treated with. The best way to spread awareness is to lead by example!
5. Does Prayer help? What to Pray for?
Prayer is the greatest weapon that the Church possess. Only problem happens to be just that we use it only on petty issues. I am not trying to say that you cannot pray for everything. My point is that the church should take crimes against women as a very serious problem and begin to pray against the spirit that dominates the perpetrators of its crime & holds down the victims of such crimes.
If during revival at Whales a century back, the prisons could be empty and crime rates could fall flat at the intensity of the prayers of the church, so can it happen today also as we yield to the leading of the Holy Spirit in matters like these when we pray!
We are not to just pray for the symptoms to decrease, but the entire society to be reformed by a better and biblical understanding of women. We wouldn’t have to wait a century to see its results. All it takes is a breeze of God’s Spirit over our land for everything to change and turn around and for God to be glorified.
What have been your thoughts about crimes against women, especially rape? What are we doing wrong? Are we ignoring our responsibility to pray? Please feel free to share with us in the comments.