- Matt's Musings
Earlier this month, a 33 year old lady called Sarah Everard never arrived home from leaving her friend’s house at 9pm. Just under a week after her disappearance, Wayne Couzens, a police officer, was arrested on suspicion of kidnap and murder. A few days later, the remains of Sarah’s body were found in woodland. How horrible. The grief of loved ones not knowing, fearing the worst and then having their worst fears confirmed. It should make us groan and ache.
How is it that someone made in the image of God can be murdered in the UK in 2021 at just 33 years of age? What has followed has been an outpouring of anger and frustration on social media and in a limited way, on the streets via vigils, at the lack of progress in seeking to make our streets safer for women. Many men have felt the need to defend themselves and the hashtag ‘not all men’ has been trending. However, we do all have a responsibility, so how can we respond helpfully?
When we look at the life of Jesus, we see a man who women felt ‘safe’ to be around. There’s a beautiful example of when Jesus met a Samaritan woman. This lady had been mistreated by a number of men. She felt ashamed and didn’t like being seen in public. She had a man, but kept herself and him hidden. But then she met Jesus and suddenly she was going around the village shouting to people, “Come see a man”. Finally, she had met a man who she wanted to show to other people! So, we need to take our cue from Jesus in the current situation. Women felt safe around Jesus, because they were safe with Jesus! That’s an important point.
Jesus wouldn’t have posted comments under the ‘not all men’ hashtag. I don’t think he would have gone on the defensive by attacking weak points in campaign group’s arguments. He wouldn’t have sulked thinking “all girls hate me”. Throughout the Bible, Jesus teaches us the importance of examining ourselves. The debate of recent weeks gives us men an opportunity to consider our ways.
I don’t know the motives behind Wayne Couzen’s evil actions and whether or not lust was a factor. However, take this opportunity to ask yourself an important question. How do you see women? Do you see them as objects to lust after and satisfy your desires or as human beings created in the image of God? It is sad that in the current debate, no one is talking about pornography. During lockdown, the use of pornography has significantly increased. Even before lockdown, a survey showed that a third of the UK population watches it and half of 16-17 year olds have accessed it recently. This is tragic. Exposing our minds to pornography will have a significant impact on how we view women. Pornography damages relationships. It is wicked. If you are in its grip then seek help. A good friend of mine has some helpful videos on this topic which can be found here and here.
We need to develop empathy in this situation. I sometimes get scared walking around Deeside at night. I’m scared of someone snatching our dog. Sometimes I get scared that someone will just pick a fight with me. However, I am not scared of being abducted or raped. I am not afraid when a lady walks behind me. I don’t fear being sexually harassed. However, these are real fears for many women, so don’t just say, “I get scared too, what’s the big deal?” Show some compassion. If it helps make women feel safer by crossing to the other side of the road and not walking behind them, then do it. It’s hardly a sacrifice is it?
As a final point, the ‘not all men’ hashtag is ultimately wrong because we are sinfully flawed and our hearts are more capable of wickedness than we could possibly imagine. The Samaritan woman was right. Jesus is the only man worth really shouting about. He is the only man worthy of worship and trust. Jesus died in order to rescue and save vulnerable women (and men). And it’s only by following Jesus that we can be the people we were intending to be. One day Jesus will return and fully ‘reclaim these streets’, but until then, trust him, be more like him and show ‘this man’ to everyone!