In what is now being called the “Weinstein era,” issues of sexuality and gender are often discussed on social media platforms throughout the #MeToo movement, a hashtag campaign which brings light to sexual assault experiences. Hope College’s Campus Ministries and the Center for Diversity and Inclusion sponsored “Eavesdropping with the Pastor” this past Tuesday.
The event gave students the opportunity to ponder the question: “What does God say about how men and women should treat each other, and how does that inform how we, as Christians, interact with the headlines about sexual assault?” with local pastors.
The pastors present at the event were Father Tom Eggleston (St Francis), Denise Kingdom Grier (Maple Ave), Jenna Brandsen (Pillar Church), Daniel Branch (Moran Park), Kent Fry (3rd Reformed) and Winna Bosman (Engedi). Together, they took the time to reflect on student questions and give insight of their own into the movement. The goal of the discussion was to bring up cultural issues in society as well as to empower others through empathy.
In regards to how women and men should treat one another, it was advised that one must look for the equality of a person, not only in earthly terms but also in a way that represents the view that God has for his children, which is one of equal love and respect. The pastors spoke on seeing others in all of their humanity, not just as “a means to an end.”
Although it is easy to look at the worst cases in society that are widely publicized, the small cases cannot be ignored and the vulnerable must be protected. The #MeToo campaign has created a voice and a “we” for those who are searching for representation and support. In this way, the campaign is empowering. The church should not shy away from these hard conversations and should instead lean into them, helping to empower others.
Senior Kristen Godwin attended the event and remarked, saying, “It seemed that all the pastors thought the church could do more to support the #MeToo campaign. The thing that stuck out to me the most was the call to work towards ‘shalom.’ Pastor Denise Kingdom Grier pointed out that shalom does not leave room for interpersonal violence; therefore, these acts must be on a Christian’s radar.”
This event prompted students to think deeply about current events with a Christian perspective. The local pastors encouraged Hope College students to continue these difficult conversations, seeking empathy and working towards fostering an equal, safe and inclusive environment for all on and off Hope’s campus.