Sexual Harassment is a Spiritual Problem the Church Must Deal With

A framed Ten Commandments is carried by a supporter at Roy Moore's election party in Montgomery. REUTERS/Jonathan Bachman
A framed Ten Commandments is carried by a supporter at Roy Moore’s election party in Montgomery. REUTERS/Jonathan Bachman

The barrage of despicable activity has left most of us shaking our collective heads in disgust, I fear it has also left some shaking their heads in the wrong direction.

by Dr. Deborah Waterbury 

It seems that one can scarcely turn on the news these days without hearing about one sexual harassment scandal or another, and although this barrage of despicable activity has left most of us shaking our collective heads in disgust, I fear it has also left some shaking their heads in the wrong direction. As a matter of fact, I’ve even heard murmurings from fellow brothers and sisters in the church that perhaps some of these women are being too sensitive or are seeking attention in some manner by coming forward all at once. Indeed I’ve heard a few question the validity of some of these claims, simply because these women are finding their strength in numbers as one or two finally find the courage to speak out against the men who have abused them.

I could write for days in protest against such ill-timed and poorly thought out arguments, but that isn’t really the issue at hand. It might be more advantageous for us, as Christians, to take a step back and attempt to look at what is happening in this temporal world as it pertains to the church, and even more importantly, what is actually being attacked here. And be certain, my friends, this is an attack. The enemy’s favorite tactic is stealth. He loves to attack humanity from angles that are elusive, and he has attacked the male/female relationship from the beginning of time. We know that. It’s just that he’s doing it now in a subversive manner.

You and I simply have to step back and call this spade a spade.

This is all about identity—or mistaken identity, as the case may be—and Satan has been having a field day with mankind in this arena since that fateful day in the garden all those years ago.

You see, we were created in the very image of God. In God’s image. He is our identity. Genesis 1:27,

So God created man in his own image in the image of God he created him, male and female he created them.

Our very identities are in God, and then once we accept the Lordship of Jesus Christ, we become His. Our identities are further wrapped up in His holiness, His perfection, and in the inheritance that He shares with us. Indeed, we are His bride and He, our Bridegroom.

Beyond that, even, we are adored by the Creator God. Psalm 139 says that He thinks of us all of the time. David says that God thinks of us so much that, “If I could count them, they are more than the sand.” Can you imagine that? God thinks of you that much, so often that His thoughts of you are more numerous than the sands on the seashore. That’s the enormity of His love for His children.

And yet, the enemy causes us to look on our physical forms, these imperfect bodies, and to place our identities there. We look at others, and we identify them by what we see on the outside, by how we see them behave and the things we hear them say. We listen to the words spoken to us by others or the things done to us by others, and we allow those things to be the basis upon which we build our identities. Then before we know it, these beautiful and adored creations of the Most High and loving, living God are reduced to pitiful embodiments of what we and others think of them.

And what do you think we do with those incorrect summations? We either mistreat ourselves or we mistreat others. We don’t look in the mirror and see the bride of the Lamb of God, the Savior of the World. We see an overweight, aging woman who is past her prime. We see whatever version of imperfection we’ve landed on. We see whatever represents how far we think we have fallen short of society’s version of perfection. Consequently, when someone comes along and mistreats us, it becomes very difficult to stand up and claim that we are deserving of something more.

On the flip side of that, it also becomes increasingly easy to look out onto others and forget who they are, that they, too, are the bride of the Most High, the glorious and adored love of the Redeemer. Instead, treating that person as if she is a thing to be used for pleasure or laughs is easy because she is no longer seen for who she really is.

Why do women quietly allow abuse, sometimes for years?

Mistaken identity.

Why do men mistreat and abuse women, sexually harassing them as if they are nothing but a thing to amuse them?

Mistaken identity.

It’s all about identity and the fact that we’ve lost sight of where ours actually lies.

If you have suffered any abuse at the hands of any person, you must tell someone. The enemy loves to keep his lies in the dark where they flourish. Shine the light of truth on those lies about who you are. You can only do that by exposing them, and that comes from talking about them. Don’t hide. Take courage, and tell someone.

If you have been the abuser, I challenge you to remember who you are, but also remember who they are. When you touch someone inappropriately or speak to them inappropriately, remember that you are doing so to a sister or a brother, not just another person, but more importantly, you are doing so to the very bride of Jesus Christ. You will answer to Him for that travesty. There is much more at stake than your gratification in the moment. Eternity is a long, long time.

Reacquaint yourself with this God who loves you more than you know. Read Psalm 139. Read Romans 8:31-39. You are His beloved. He quite literally adores your air. His love is not about you, but it is fully directed at you. How glorious is that?

Your very identity lies in that love.

Dr. Deborah Waterbury is the founder of Love Everlasting Ministries, and has authored nine books. She travels extensively, both nationally and abroad, leading conferences and teaching seminars and is the founder of the Reap What You Sew Project in Africa (RWYS.org). She hosts a daily live, call-in radio show called “Doing Life with Dr. Deb,” and spends a great deal of her time writing curriculum as well as allegorical novels, including her popular series, The Painted Window Trilogy. Dr. Waterbury holds a Masters in the Art of Teaching from Grand Canyon University in Phoenix, Arizona, and acquired her Doctorate of Ministry in Biblical Expository Studies from Pillsbury Seminary in St. Louis, Missouri. She currently resides in Tucson, Arizona, with her husband, Jeff. For more information, visit http://www.DebWaterbury.com.