Freedom from Fear and Violence: Methodists against Gender Based Violence – Silence is not always consent
Readings: Isaiah 1:10-31 (1-31), Ephesians 4:17 – 5:2, Matthew 26:57-68, John 8:2-11
The forces of nature are powerful and they don’t hold much sway for the personal preferences of individuals. The gentle breeze we feel blowing across our face on a warm summer day brings refreshing or irritation out of the same action. It is refreshing if we receive it as that and it is irritating if we dislike the wind blowing in our faces. A thunderstorm that fills the sky with flashes of lightning as it rages around us brings a sense of awe for the Creator, a sense of pleasure for the light show that is before us, a sense of joy for the negative ions in the air, a sense of relief for the rain that quenches a parched land, a sense of fear for those who are not accustomed to it, a sense of anxiety for those who hide under the covers and a warning for those who take cover under the trees. The same storm that is received in a number of ways holds no concern over how it is received. A warm summer day gives life to some and lethargy to others. A cold winter day gives life to some and lethargy to others. Forces of nature do not care whether we are in agreement with them or not. They don’t care whether we are vocal or silent about what is happening. Their power places them outside of the range of our voice.
We are too often faced with people who live theirs lives as if they were a force of nature. We are too often faced with people who believe that their words and actions are placed outside of the range of our voice. We are too often faced with those who don’t care whether we are vocal or silent because they will do what they have thought to do whether there is disagreement or not.
In order to stand against a force of nature, you would need to oppose it with an equal force (since a greater force would simply create another force we would need to oppose when it becomes destructive). Those who assume they are above the law and above contradiction need to be brought to account by those whose voice is loud enough and clear enough to do that, although it is more often than not going to be a collection of voices that will accomplish this rather than a single voice.
In Dr. Seuss’ Horton hears a Who!, every Who in Whoville has to add their voice to the whole in order to save their speck of a world that nobody except Horton believes exists. It is when the body of Christ raises their voices together that we are able to ensure that the voice that stands opposed to violence and fear is never silent and that it is never destructive. When the Church is obedient to the God they worship, it’s voice can only bring healing as we share the gift of life, the grace of God, with a world intent on destroying itself.