I was out to dinner with my husband this week, and our conversation turned to social media. He was dismayed that Facebook and other outlets have given everyone a public forum to declare their opinions, no matter how misguided or unfounded they may be. In other words, anyone can say anything about anything, even if it's factually untrue.
While I can't disagree, I argued that social media has given people a very significant platform to speak the truth and fight for important causes in a previously unknown way. Of course the cause should be just and the information stated must be true, which implies a universal morality and well-researched veracity.
As examples, I pointed to the Syrian refugee crisis, the Cincinnati Zoo situation and, more recently, the Stanford rape scandal. While some people do shoot off their mouth with outlandish and incorrect statements, the only result is that they end up looking foolish. See, there's this little thing called the Internet that presents a proliferation of information for anyone to fact-check anything.
Conversely, those who take advantage of social media to intelligently and accurately fight for truth and justice and to make this world better can and do, in my opinion, make a positive impact – even if it's just in a small way or simply an influence in their circle of people. Raising awareness of the importance of voting, for example, or linking to a GoFundMe account to raise money for clean water in Africa are GOOD things. Or even getting someone to think about something they may not have otherwise cared about – that too is a good thing.
Which brings me here. I seem to have an opinion about everything. I often share my thoughts on my Facebook page or on this blog. They are my personal opinions and I am sharing them on my personal social media and web site. Anyone who sees them can choose to read or not read, follow or unfollow, like or unfriend. I don't have a problem with that.
The Stanford rape scandal has been on my mind a lot this week. It is a complete and utter travesty of justice. The actions of rapist and coward Brock Allen Turner have repulsed me to my core. The actions of Judge Aaron Persky are reprehensible. The letters of Turner's father and childhood friend are dangerous and a slap in the face to all survivors of sexual assault. These are all my opinions.
Then a couple of nights ago I had a thought – an afterthought, really. Yes, I am entitled to my opinions, as is everyone else. But what does God think? His opinion should be the only one that matters. What does He have to say about this?
I found that He has plenty to say:
- Now Dinah the daughter of Leah, whom she had borne to Jacob, went out to visit the daughters of the land. And when Shechem the son of Hamor the Hivite, the prince of their land, saw her, he took her and lay with her by force. (Genesis 34:1-2)
Result: Dinah's brothers killed Hamor, Shechem and every male in their city, saying to their father Jacob, "Should he treat our sister as a harlot?" (Genesis 34:31)
- 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. Do nothing to the woman; she has committed no sin deserving death. This case is like that of someone who attacks and murders a neighbor, for the man found the young woman out in the country, and though the betrothed woman screamed, there was no one to rescue her. (Deuteronomy 22:28-29)
Result: God does not condone rape. He is just and always metes out a fair punishment. And sin always has a consequence.
- However, he would not listen to her; since he was stronger than she, he violated her and lay with her. (2 Samuel 13:14) The story of Tamar and her half-brother Amnon is appalling. He lusted for her and, with his buddy Jonadab ("a very shrewd man"), they devised a plan to get Tamar alone. That's when Amnon raped Tamar. King David, their father, was furious but did nothing. This resulted in Tamar's brother, Absalom, later murdering Amnon.
Result: The neglect of justice often results in further sin.
But there's also this:
- Never take your own revenge, beloved, but leave room for the wrath of God, for it is written, "Vengeance is Mine, I will repay," says the Lord. (Romans 12:19)
- …for the anger of man does not achieve the righteousness of God. (James 1:20)
- And God created man in His own image, in the image of God He created him; male and female He created them. (Genesis 1:27)
- There is neither Jew nor Greek, there is neither slave nor free, there is no male and female, for you are all one in Christ Jesus. (Galatians 3:28)
Let's be honest, left to my own devices I would advise painful castration and lifelong imprisonment to anyone who rapes a woman (or a man). Thankfully, I am not the judge or executor of justice in this or any other case. Because my anger, no matter how righteous, would not result in achieving the righteousness of God. Do I trust Him in this and all other matters? Yes. Does that mean my hands are tied and I just have to accept what happened at Stanford? Absolutely not.
So here's what I CAN do:
I can empathize with the survivor of this attack. I can disseminate her powerful letter as much as possible. I can pray for her and every other survivor of sexual assault.
I can also pray for Brock Allen Turner and his family. He is a depraved individual, but none of us is without sin. Jesus went to the cross for him, too. His family is deluded if they think he should be spared any real consequence, but I can understand their desire to protect him. If we aren't actively praying for sinners, what chance do they have at repentance? What hope will they have of knowing the saving grace of Jesus Christ?
I can teach my boys, ages 8 and 10, to respect all women. I can teach them what a real man is supposed to be. I can point them to their father, a man who has respected and honored me for as long as he has known me. I can teach them about sex and consent and rape. I can teach them to recognize the jackasses among their peers and keep an eye on them. I can teach them to ALWAYS step in to protect a woman in need, much like Carl-Fredrik Arndt and Peter Jonsson did. Arndt and Jonsson are the Swedish graduate students who saw what was happening behind the dumpster at Stanford and approached Brock Turner, then tackled and restrained him until the police came. Without their intervention, the victim would no doubt have been further harmed. Arndt and Jonsson are true gentlemen and real-life heroes.
I can offer my opinions, fight for social justice, and use my various platforms to preach whatever I believe. I can choose to put my faith before my opinions, before my emotions, before my actions and strive to seek God's thoughts first. I can pray. I can hope for a better world for my sons. And I can do my best to train them to make this world a better, safer place.
If you have been the victim of a sexual crime, or know someone who has, please seek help NOW. Contact RAINN (Rape, Abuse and Incest National Network) or The National Center for Victims of Crime. Please do not hesitate. For information, support and resources to survivors of rape and sexual abuse and their friends and family, contact Pandora's Project.