Over the next few posts I plan to highlight some good points from the trafficking and abuse conference. For those who didn’t make it, you can order the DVDs for only $9.95 total! Here is the form and here is the website where they are described. The website also advertises our next event in this lecture series (Dec 1-3, 2011).
Bethany Hoang of IJM opened the conference on Thursday night by reminding us that justice is at the heart of worship. It is not merely a social matter. Proverbs 14:31 pairs justice with worship and honor of God:
He who oppresses the poor shows contempt for their maker, but whoever is kind to the needy honors God.
And Jesus tells us in Matt 23:23b that the “weightier matters” of the Christian life have to do with justice and mercy:
But you have neglected the more important matters of the law–justice, mercy, and faithfulness
(Later in the conference, Diane Langberg reminded us that complacency is complicity with those who are committing these crimes.)
Bethany went on to describe the historical rift between social action and conservative views of Scripture. The fundamentalism/liberalism debate of the early 20th century caused many to equate justice ministries with liberalism and is only now becoming more prominent in evangelical circles. Justice, said Bethany, must be grounded in Christ or else we will burn out.
So, we look to Christ. Where does he call us to join him? In dying to self. Bethany quoted Karl Barth here: Jesus calls us to live in the neighborhood of Golgotha, the neighborhood of death. Let us remember that our tangible efforts toward justice are to point to Christ and ought to reveal the character of God.
Diane Langberg spoke to the audience about violence to women. There are some very consistent facts:
- 1:3 women experience sexual violence in their lifetime (1:6 men); 1:5 women experience rape
- 5 million women suffer domestic violence every year in the US. It is the number one cause of injury in women 15-44.
The definition of genocide (from Rwanda) actually fits the data on how women are treated. When you consider gender-based violence (from abortion to murder, to rape, etc. ), more women have been killed in the last fifty years than people died in all of the battles of the 20th century put together. Approximately 100 million women are missing from the planet (per the Economist). In addition, the crime of genocide can be levied on those who are complicit, who do not act to stop this violence. Thus, are we complicit in the church for failing to adequately protect our girls and women. When we fail to identify and name evil for what it is, we are accomplices to a crime.
One of the most powerful parts of her talk was her review of how Jesus exhibited counter-cultural care for women. For example he,
- had a woman traveling with him
- allowed a woman of ill-repute to touch him
- engaged in conversation with the woman at the well, another woman of sketchy background
- completed his first miracle to bless the marriage of a woman
- Did not condemn the woman caught in adultery
- Had compassion on a gentile woman wanting some “crumbs” of healing
- Provided for his mother with his final breaths
- Had a woman be the first reporter of his resurrection
We fight in church about the role of women in ministry and about headship/submission. Maybe it is time to start addressing the matter of the dignity of all women and how men honor their head, Jesus Christ, when they act in ways that acknowledge this inherent dignity.