Because I Can

If we are not willing to examine ourselves, we have no right to point the finger out there.

There has been quite a bit of outrage over “Christian leaders” who have endorsed a man who boasted about sexually assaulting a woman, and we should be appalled. Our witness as Christians is a travesty when we enable those who demean God’s image-bearers, mock His standard of righteousness, and commit civil crimes. But our criticism for these “leaders” will rise up and condemn us if we do nothing when domestic and child sexual abuse occurs in our backyard…

 

I first shared this story in the light of the Jian Ghomeshi scandal back in 2014. Given recent events, it bears repeating. I am acquainted with both parties involved. Names have been changed and the story altered slightly for anonymity.

Jane had been employed as an administrative assistant for several years. She was hard-working and aimed to do her best. The position for executive secretary to the Chief Executive Officer became available in the company where she was employed. Oddly enough, it was not uncommon for a new hire to not even last a month. One person resigned after a week. However, Jane applied. She was interviewed and then offered the job. What a great promotion! Jane was excited about her new position and looked forward to working for Mr. Smith.

After a week or two, it became apparent why Jane’s predecessors never stayed long in the job. She was expected to run errands for Mr. Smith and his family such as picking up dry cleaning and other busy work, none of which was in her job description. She was also expected to complete her work on time regardless of how much of her day was taken away to fulfill these extraneous tasks. Mr. Smith deliberately found fault with her work and nit-picked it to death, requiring her to redo reports and letters repeatedly until he was satisfied. He also made a point of humiliating Jane by criticizing her harshly in front of visitors and clients. Sometimes there would be a respite in the cutting remarks, but it didn’t last long. Jane tried to stick it out as long as she could, but the stress was too much to bear. In tears, she finally asked Mr. Smith why he treated her this way. His reply was, “Because I can.” He was the boss. She was only his lowly secretary. It was his company. It was his ingenuity and savvy that made it what it was. Anyone working for him owed him for that privilege, and he made sure that his employees never forgot their place. Jane turned in her resignation that day.

There are three characteristics that mark Mr. Smith:

  • Entitlement –  He was special. His position gave him the right to do as he pleased. He was above accountability.
  • Lack of empathy – He was clueless as to the pain he was inflicting on others. They didn’t have feelings because they were beneath him and, therefore, less than human.
  • Power and control – If he said, “Jump!”, the only question should be, “How high?” His unreasonable demands and treatment of others served to feed his sense of entitlement.

And this, ladies and gentleman, is the portrait of an abuser. But we shouldn’t be surprised. We’ve seen it in the news every time a heinous abuse scandal surfaces. For example:

Because I am…

  • A star athlete
  • A famous Hollywood actor or director
  • On the coaching staff of a college athletic team
  • A wealthy entrepreneur
  • On the faculty of a prestigious university
  • A political mover and shaker

… I am entitled to ….

I’ve haven’t been more descriptive, but you can connect the dots and fill in the names. In these cases, a person of privilege and power is elevated by their community because of the money, fame, and prestige he/she brings to the group. When abuse comes to the light, the abuser is defended because his/her added value outweighs the suffering of the victim. A double standard is applied where the perpetrator is insulated from criticism because of his/her position. The abuse is minimized, and the victim is often accused of lying or blamed for bringing it on himself/herself. We are repulsed by this and rightly so. But this doesn’t happen just “out there.”

Have we seen this? Because I am…

  • A celebrity pastor
  • The youth group leader
  • The missionary doctor

… I have a right to…

Or this? Because I am … 

  • The husband
  • The father
  • The man

… I am entitled to…

There has been quite a bit of outrage over “Christian leaders” who have endorsed a man who boasted about sexually assaulting a woman, and we should be appalled. Our witness as Christians is a travesty when we enable those who demean God’s image-bearers, mock His standard of righteousness, and commit civil crimes. But our criticism for these “leaders” will rise up and condemn us if we do nothing when domestic and child sexual abuse occurs in our backyard.

  • Where has the church elevated those based on their power and position? Dare I add “role?”
  • Where have we created double standards that insulate our idols and ideology from accountability to the word of God?
  • Where have we sought to cover up abuse because our ministries would be threatened by exposure?
  • Where have we accused victims of lying or bringing their abuse upon themselves?
  • Where have we not done justice or shown kindness?

If we are not willing to examine ourselves, we have no right to point the finger out there. God forbid that we protest what occurs outside our walls and turn a blind eye when it occurs within.

Persis Lorenti is an ordinary Christian. You can find her at Tried With Fire and Out of the Ordinary. This article appeared at her blog and is used with permission.