From Editor Rachel Halder:

April is Sexual Assault Awareness Month, a month dedicated to raising public awareness about sexualized violence and to educate communities and individuals on how to prevent sexual violence. But what I want to know is: Why do we need to make a month for this? Why can’t every month be a month dedicated to eradicating sexualized violence?

I stumbled upon this blog by Rev. Martin Elfert on the Spokane: Faith & Values Website, an “inaugural hub site for Religion News LLC’s three-year community religion news project.” He was asked the question, “Is coercive sex rape?” and I came away incredibly impressed by his response.

Though, I will admit it did make me wonder a few things. Such as, why aren’t more leaders and pastors–especially male pastors–addressing this issue in their churches? I don’t remember ever once hearing anything about rape in church, Sunday School, or at camp while growing up. Why?

On Friday, Tim Nafziger took a look at the “yuckiness” of sexualized violence through his blog on The Mennonite. He referenced the Steubenville Reflection Series on Our Stories Untold, and examined why he too often finds himself avoiding the topic of rape, sexualized violence and sexual abuse. He wrote,

These are topics that are extremely uncomfortable. I know they are important, but I’d rather let someone else talk about them. And this is where the yuckiness of the cross challenges me. In Philippians 2:7-8, we read that Jesus “emptied himself, taking the form of a slave … he humbled himself and became obedient to the point of death—even death on a cross.”

The Rev. Martin Elfert is an immigrant to the Christian faith. After the birth of his first child, he began to wonder about the ways in which the Divine was at work in the world. Shortly thereafter, he joined Christ Church Cathedral in Vancouver, BC, where he and his new son were baptized at the Easter Vigil in 2005 and where the community encouraged him to seek ordination.

The Rev. Martin Elfert is an immigrant to the Christian faith. After the birth of his first child, he began to wonder about the ways in which the Divine was at work in the world. Shortly thereafter, he joined Christ Church Cathedral in Vancouver, BC, where he and his new son were baptized at the Easter Vigil in 2005 and where the community encouraged him to seek ordination.

Please read Rev. Elfert’s examination of rape culture and critically think about how you avoid this “yucky” topic, but more importantly how you can bring about awareness, too.

 

Father Knows Best: Is coercive sex rape? by Martin Elfert

Hey Rev!

Is coercive sex rape?

- Lost and Found

Dear L&F:

Yes.

Sex without informed consent given by a competent adult is rape. A rapist may deprive someone of her agency via physical violence or via threats. Or a rapist may choose to prey upon someone who is incapable of meaningfully assenting to sex, such as a child or someone who is inebriated. Regardless of the precise circumstances, it is the absence of a freely given affirmation to sex which defines rape. To put that thought another way, the gold standard for consent to sex is not “not saying no.” It is an enthusiastic “yes!”

If your Facebook feed is anything like mine, L&F, it has been lit up this past week with commentary on the convictions of the two young rapists in Steubenville, Ohio. A lot of folks are righteously angry at those news outlets which have framed the court’s guilty verdict as a tragedy for the perpetrators while remaining silent about the violence done to the survivor. (Laurie Penny’s article on the New Statesman and Kim Simon’s piece at Huffington Post, for instance, are both excellent.)

Part of me is hesitant to attempt to add anything to this conversation; what Penny, Simon, and writers like them have already said is both passionate and prophetic. However, I’m going to push through my reluctance for two reasons. First, it matters that men speak up against rape culture (i.e., the culture in which a blasé or permissive attitude towards rape is allowed or even celebrated). And, second, I’d like to suggest that part of what makes rape culture possible is bad theology.

A host of factors are operative in the psyche of someone who chooses to inflict sexual violence on another. While we cannot see into anyone else’s head, I agree with those folks who guess that the foundation for the rape in Steubenville was poured out of a mixture of male privilege, of the casual misogyny of jock culture, and of the frightening tendency of crowds to be stupid, impulsive, and cruel. A fourth element belongs in this poisonous recipe, however: rape is abetted by our collective reluctance to see God as feminine and God as victim.

First, God as feminine. We live in a time and place in which we picture the divine in overwhelmingly male terms: notwithstanding Paul’s insistence that male and female are one in Christ Jesus, God remains “he” in most dialogue, in most prayer, and in most liturgy. Feminist theologians (among whom I count many of my colleagues here at Spokane Faith and Values — see the excellent series of recent posts on the female aspect of God) have been helpful in pushing our boundaries. However, comparatively little of feminist theology has made its way into mainstream conversation. I remember, for example, being startled by the big laugh than the master of ceremonies at a music event got when he referred to God as “she.”

…………..Continued…………..

To continue reading this piece, please click here to the original post on Spokan Faith & Values Website…