Male privilege and entitlement have suffered a series of body blows over the past two months. We may never recover our advantage again.
It began on October 5, when the New York Times published an allegation that movie producer Harvey Weinstein had molested a young actress. At first, Weinstein responded with denials and threats of law suits, but within a few days, other women came forward against him. Then other men in the entertainment industry were being accused, one after the other. They were dropping like flies.
Suddenly, women were emboldened to tell their stories. The #metoo movement began just a few days after the Times article about Weinstein, and since then, it has been used by over five million people in various social media formats, many of them women telling about their own experiences of sexual harassment or molestation. It’s overwhelming.
Then along came the Roy Moore story. This candidate for U.S. Senator from Alabama, already a controversial character, was being accused by a grown woman of making sexual advances toward her when she was fourteen years old. After this hit the news, several other women came forward to make similar allegations against Moore.
I never write about politics in the Messenger, and I’m not breaking that tradition now. The truth is that Harvey Weinstein is just about as far left politically as Roy Moore is far right. There are male chauvinist pigs at both end of the spectrum, and plenty in between.
But my moral sensitivities and my Christian conscience were totally offended when I listened to a guest commentator on CNN last night [watch it on YouTube here], Dr. Randy Brinson, president of the Christian Coalition of Alabama. As he interacted with the other panelists, it was clear that nothing could make him believe the word of those women against a man of such fine Christian character as Moore. On that panel, he was representing the Christian community; he was representing me.
I remember an important journey in my Biblical studies. I had a sense that Jesus was affirming women in his ministry, against the background of a Middle Eastern society where they were put down in many ways, some of them harsh. I decided to study this in greater depth, and I was surprised to find that in his teachings and personal interactions, Jesus was quite revolutionary in his view of gender equality.*
One verse that fascinated me was in a letter written by the Apostle Paul:
There is no longer Jew or Greek, there is no longer slave or free, there is no longer male and female; for all of you are one in Christ Jesus. (Galatians 3:28)
Now, Paul was proud of being Jewish, he affirmed that he was a free-born Roman citizen, and his natural tendency was to pull rank as a male authority figure. So, this egalitarian statement didn’t come from his own understanding and insight. It came out of his realization that Jesus had created a new kind of society, where every individual has equal worth and is personally a child of God, whether “Jew or Greek,” “slave or free,” “male or female.”
In Paul’s day, the believing community was working out the implications of the “no longer Jew or Greek” reality – that’s what the Letter to the Galatians is all about. The “no longer slave or free” manifestation of Christian oneness took a lot longer to work out; in our part of the world coming only 150 years ago. “No longer male or female” has been even harder to express as an important Christian value. You can uncover outbreaks of it here and there throughout church history, but a new affirmation of male supremacy in leadership always seems to emerge to slap it down.
Maybe the day has come. Maybe Randy Brinson will not be the voice of the church on this issue. Maybe other Alabama Christians will stand up for Jesus’ Kingdom, where a fourteen-year-old girl’s word will be believed as much as a prestigious male politician who calls himself a Christian.
As for me, I’d like to join with #metoo, if they’ll have me.
— Pastor George Van Alstine
*I was helped on this journey by an organization called Christians for Biblical Equality. You might find their website helpful https://www.cbeinternational.org/