Today, news broke that has the potential to shake Christian culture. Charisma News published a story that detailed several claims against comedian John Crist, accusing him of manipulating and sexually harassing women on multiple occasions. The story contained several separate accounts of this behavior along with a statement from Crist himself, saying that he has sought treatment for his “sexual sins and addiction struggles” and a decision to cancel the rest of this year’s tour dates.
But I’m not here to talk about John Crist.
As I read the reports of harassment, my stomach sank—not because I’ve laughed at John’s videos or sat next to him in interviews. My stomach sank because multiple women talked about how his status as a “Christian celebrity” made them trust someone that proved himself untrustworthy. At one point in the article, it told the story of 2 victims who no longer affiliate with Christianity today because of this behavior.
My stomach sank because the sentiments they expressed were far too familiar to me.
As more and more #metoo stories came out over the past few years, a separate movement started up as well. #Churchtoo also started trending as women and men told stories of abuse within the Church. Many were shocked to find out that so many were taken advantage of by people who so many looked up to and respected spiritually.
My story started with an unhealthy relationship with a pastor’s kid…and ended with shame, heartbreak, and a lot of questions. Was everything that happened my fault? How could he be in the wrong if he crossed boundaries while simultaneously telling me his plans to become a missionary?
When I did finally confide in a friend about the situation, the rumors spread like wildfire. Except…the story wasn’t about his indiscretions. Everyone was talking about me. I was the one stamped with the scarlet letter. When I called him to complain about it, his response was, “So?” I felt so crushed by my own ruined reputation while he remained untouchable. He was the godly one. He was the “most dedicated Christian” (a real award that my small Christian school gave out at graduation.)
I don’t share this story for sympathy. I share it because it took me a very long time to trust men, and especially “godly” men. I share this story because you might be questioning the very foundations of your faith because someone severely misrepresented it to you.
I want you to know that I found my place in the church by looking to Jesus. All through the Bible, He respected women, He treated them with dignity, and He made them a part of the story when culture dismissed them entirely.I want you to know that I found my place in the church by looking to Jesus. All through the Bible, He respected women, He treated them with dignity, and He made them a part of the story when culture dismissed them entirely. Click To Tweet
To my sisters, there’s a place for you here. There’s a God who picks up the shattered pieces of our hearts and puts them back together. There’s a place in the body of Christ where you are not just needed….but loved and valued. There are men and women ready to show unconditional love and will be patient and understanding when you’re unsure of whom you can trust.
To my brothers, thank you for being set apart from the continued stories of misconduct. Thank you for respecting women. Please continue to speak up for us when you notice someone next to you engaging in abusive behaviors.
And whoever you are, continue to share your story. Even when no one is listening. Even if it seems like no one believes you. Thank you for being so incredibly courageous. This isn’t your fault. You’re not alone. And there is hope for a future free of shame.