Wednesday, October 03, 2018

Raising Boys to be Believers

“They didn’t believe Mary either.” This is what’s currently on the reader board outside Luther Memorial Lutheran Church, where a friend of mine is a pastor. After Jesus rose from the dead, he appeared to Mary and (in Luke’s version) several other women, who returned to the apostles with the story of the encounter. “But these words seemed to them an idle tale and they did not believe them.” Peter and the rest of the bros had to see it for themselves. The word of their friends and fellow disciples was just not good enough or credible enough.

Looking at poll related to the Kavanaugh confirmation there is a sharp difference between the responses of men, who are more likely to believe Brett Kavanaugh’s story and support his confirmation to the Supreme Court and, and women, who are more likely to believe Christine Blasey Ford that he assaulted her when both were high school students. As a parent to a little (cisgender, white) boy, who will become a man in a culture permeated with the idea that (straight, cis, white) men’s experience is the default, I am very concerned. I want him to be a believer.

There are four essential responses to someone who discloses an assault or even coercion. The very first one is, “I believe you.” And the expression of belief should be backed up immediately by, “It’s not your fault. I will support you. Let’s get help.” We’ve all heard by now how under-reported coercion and assault are for all the reasons from fear of repercussions to shame and guilt that the survivor could have prevented it somehow. Men and boys need to be a part of changing the culture that keeps women from telling and be the first to say, “I believe you. I will help.”

We know how much Jesus valued his relationships with women.  He believed in their autonomy in relationship and believed in them as agents of the Gospel. To use a manner of speech, when Jesus first exposed himself to the women, the men who were their friends should have said, "We believe you!"

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