I bore witness to something that falls right into what I’m going to write to you about today. If you had told me 10 years ago, I’d come face to face with this evil and the extremist ideology it was tied to, I’d told you that you were nuts. The truth is Jesus put me and a friend in the right place at the right time to interrupt evil ideology and evil abuse. Jesus has also given me the words to write and describe what I see in certain ideologies that lead to abuse, whether that abuse is domestic violence of any kind, human trafficking (DV on steroids), or a mix of both. My words may make some of you uncomfortable, and that is okay. Until we face evil head on, call it out and choose not to tolerate it; we won’t set any captives free and we won’t get back what has been stolen from women and children the world over.
Let’s start with the mainstream Christian church here in America. Though not considered extremist, the church has, unfortunately, held to many beliefs about incorrectly interpreted scripture that have actually encouraged and sanctioned abuse within its walls and within the homes of Christians, particularly in certain denominations. I was in such a home in my marriage. Beliefs about submission, male headship and male/female roles have been twisted in the church and this has led to many different kinds of abuse along the spectrum – even to trafficking and rape by those in some places of leadership. Church, how did we let this happen? How did we let extremist (evil) anti-women and anti-child viewpoints, find their way into our homes and into our pulpits? Jesus did not die for us to sacrifice His Gospel to the god of patriarchy! Patriarchy is underneath His feet! How could we have been so blind? We must turn this around, now! Repent church, repent!
Let’s take a look at ISIS, a very different animal. The ideologies of the ISIS caliphate and its radical jihadists not only encouraged abuse, they actually went out of their way to practice it. ISIS was the first known foreign terrorist group, that I am aware of, to actually traffic women and children for sex in the name of religious ideology. In fact, they believed it was women and girls’ place to be slaves of this sort. They also trafficked boys. I find this hypocritical as they claimed to be homophobic. What I find particularly interesting about these radicals is that because they did not want women and girls involved from the start in any other way but as slaves, they fell into ever increasing violence and eventually into ruin, many turning against each other. What does that tell us about relegating women and girls to subservience and to sex slavery in your world or religious view? You will eventually come to ruin.
Now to the political, not-so mainstream (and criminal) forces in our country in recent years. In the last 3-4 years, we have seen a resurgence of something I thought I would never see, a resurgence of Far Right-wing radicalism. I honestly thought that was a problem in the Middle East with ISIS and other foreign and domestic jihadists. I could have not been more wrong as 2016 and 2017 saw more right-wing radical violence than I had ever seen in my lifetime on American streets. Not since the 1960s had this country seen such radicalism. I know that these groups focused on many horrific ideologies such as racism, homophobia, and white nationalism. Yet it is what is not seen that I noticed right away. I noticed the women and how they were treated. I noticed their roles. I noticed their lack of understanding of the importance of women in society, other than to have children and stay home. These women were subservient at best in the groups who considered themselves a higher class, perhaps having figurehead leaderships positions but nothing more. In some criminal groups loyal to these political factions, they went as far as human trafficking – mostly of women and children they deemed as less human (something I have seen with my own eyes). The criminal element within this political sphere goes back to World War II, Hitler’s Brown Shirts, his well-dressed thugs. I can’t say I was surprised at these developments. Despite the radical Right’s attempt to rebrand themselves as non-violent cultural saviors, intellectually savvy individuals, and politically “woke” alternatives; they continued to devalue women and girls as a whole and in the end resorted to violence that harmed women and children alike directly and indirectly, including the women and children of their own groups.
What is the common theme in all of this? The common theme is a blatant disregard for the welfare of women and children and the outright hatred of women and children. You find these themes rampant in ideologies that fuel abuse and violence. You find these themes rampant in the overarching world view of patriarchy which conveniently hides itself in plain site in the middle of it all.
Yet, there is hope! How do we get from darkness to light? I have already addressed how the Church rids itself of patriarchy and extremist ideology as the Church should lead by example. The interesting thing is, just as the Church must repent, so must American society. American society must repent of allowing these forces to take hold and to take root in our nation. American society must choose to look into the dark and see trafficking victims for who they are and see the reality of environments that breed traffickers. American society must choose to see the role pornography plays in the devaluing of women and children and its connections to criminal enterprises and trafficking as a whole. American society must acknowledge that trafficking and domestic violence are happening in every city and town in America. American society must choose to enforce laws that are on the books to criminalize such acts and we must enact laws that help women and children after they come out of domestic violence and trafficking. For those who choose to leave these radical ideologies I described and repent of their evil ways, we must also provide a way for them to reintegrate into society like we would any other criminal or survivor. We must give them space and grace to change. We have a lot to do America, but we must first start with our hearts. We begin with repentance. We soften our hardened hearts. We choose not to be complicit nor complacent in the abuse of women and children in this country and around the world. We get to choose. What do you choose?
Deuteronomy 30:15,16b; “Listen closely, I have set before you today life and prosperity (good), and death and adversity (evil); choose life…..so that you will live!”
John 1:5; And the Light shines on in the darkness, for the darkness has never overpowered it [put it out or absorbed it or appropriated it and is unreceptive to it].