I AM and #MeToo: the Incarnation and violence against women


Emily Gathergood writes: The tragic news of the kidnap and murder of 33-year old Sarah Everard as she walked to her home in South London’s Brixton Hill recently, apparently by a serving Metropolitan Police officer, has triggered a national outpouring grief and sadness, as well as a surge of public outrage at the ubiquitous problem of male violence against girls and women. Vigils held in Sarah’s memory at Clapham Common and numerous cities across the country have served as poignant spaces for hundreds of women to voice a broader lament and protest over the endemic social evil of gender-based violence—sexual harassment, sexual violence, domestic violence, ‘honour’-based violence, forced marriage, female genital mutilation, and trafficking as well as femicide. The manhandling of several women activists in an ill-judged, disproportionate crackdown by the Met amplified the disturbing case in point: women do not feel safe on our streets, even from the institutions meant to protect them.

The outcry is intuitively intersectional, recognising that while male violence is experienced by girls and women from all backgrounds, certain social groups are disproportionately affected. Pointed anger over media inattention to the stories of Dawn Bennett, Bibba Henry, Nicole Smallman, Blessing Olusegun, and other black and ethnic minority women recently murdered reflects longstanding frustration with structural racism in British society and a growing political will to address the convergence of gender- and race-based violence. Disability rights campaigners call attention to disability as a major compounding risk factor: women with mental or physical impairments, or mental health conditions, are four times more likely to be assaulted. And poverty action groups highlight poverty as another exacerbator: women in low-income households are 3.5 times more likely to be victims of domestic violence. This renewed focus in public discourse on the prioritising of allgirls’ and women’s safety is certainly welcome.

There is, however, a collective rolling of mascaraed eyes when the headline statistics which so clearly lay out the pervasive nature the issue are met with shock or incredulity. Are you surprised that in the UK, according to the latest Femicide Census, a woman is killed by a man every three days? That the World Health Organisation reports 1 in 5 (22%) women experience physical and/or sexual violence? That a YouGov survey conducted for the All-Party Parliamentary Group for United Nations Women UK found 7 in 10 (71%) women of all ages experience sexual harassment, rising to almost all (97%) young women aged 18–24?

Women have always known this to be the status quo, from personal incidents and from the collective whisper network of torrid anecdotes sorrowfully shared. The slow rate of progress despite decades of gender activism indicates the intractable nature of the problem, and breeds frustration and resentment. It’s 2021, and we women are still looking over our shoulders, talking the well-lit route, carrying rape alarms, tightly clutching our keys, texting when we’re home, and making all manner of adjustments to our daily lives because we are afraid of being attacked by men.


Are we being unreasonable to feel this way, when it’s quite true that ‘not all men’ are aggressors? As Tom Chivers points out in his psychological analysis of ‘Why don’t women feel safe?’, the law of large numbers means that ‘even if only a tiny fraction of men are dangerous or threatening, women will occasionally encounter them.’ Even if ‘not very many men’ are predatory, there are enough to make women feel threatened, especially given the difficulty of discerning which men are the wolves in sheep’s clothing. It’s not all men, but it could be any man. Each woman has her own level of threat perception, and it’s not clear that there’s an optimal level of risk aversion or a correct amount to be worried. Ultimately, the question ‘Is women’s fear of assault rational?’ is invalidating and betrays the typically defensive dynamic of the present reckoning in which male privilege is challenged and men held accountable for the broader culture of misogyny from which they benefit.

If the statistics induce discomfort—and they should—how much more so the personal testimonies of survivors of male violence. The burgeoning #MeToo movement on social media platforms and beyond has empowered millions of girls and women through empathy and solidarity to courageously speak out about their experiences of sexual harassment and abuse. For those who have ears to hear, the collective voice of exploited and violated female bodies demands a conversation about gender and power. And the prevalence of #ChurchToo and #SilenceIsNotSpiritual stories of the sexual violation of women and children in Christian communities, largely by those in positions of authority, demands a conversation about the dynamics of gender and power particular to Christian subcultures. Why is it that some ‘Christian’ men are perpetrators of abuse? For those with eyes to see, a spotlight is shining on the destructive aspects of Christian celebrity culture, purity culture, shame culture, and complementarianism (a doctrine of female submission). Acknowledging the tragic reality before us that girls and women in the world and in the church are frequently confronted with the fear and the fact of male violence is a difficult but necessary prerequisite to responding constructively.

It raises so many hard questions, including: How might the anxious, the harassed, the assaulted and the abused navigate a way through the psychological and physical trauma carried in their bodies? How might we love survivors through this journey and be instruments of healing and justice? How might we dismantle the underlying systems of thought and material conditions which lead to the oppression, objectification and dehumanisation of girls and women? How might survivors come to experience the redemptive grace of God? Such questions are weighty, and there are no facile or definitive answers. We must sit with them and process them together.

With the aim of facilitating further reflection and dialogue, I would like to offer here a very brief theological conceptualisation of violence against girls and women, from faith for faith, from survivor for survivor. Drawing on some resources of those who have done so before us, as well as the developing social-scientific field of expertise in traumatology, I offer some material to think with: a sketch of a redescription of the age-old/present crisis of gender-based violence in light of the gospel.


The gospel of ‘Him too’

Recent decades have seen the development of a trauma-sensitive biblical hermeneutic, that is, an interpretative method in which the Bible is approached through the lens of trauma, and the relationship between trauma and grace, or violence and redemption, is explored. This bringing together of contemporary and biblical trauma narratives generates a perspective which is distinctively empathic and theopathic. As Rev Dr Serene Jones sets out in her paradigmatic book Trauma and Grace: Theology in a Ruptured World, the method brings to the fore two fundamental biblical truth claims:

First, we live in a world profoundly broken by violence and marred by harms we inflict upon each other. Second, God loves this world and desires that suffering be met by hope, love, and grace.

These truths meet wherever God acts redemptively in human history, and most especially at the cross of Christ.

First, then, we notice that the biblical narratives do not shy away from displaying the harsh realities of contingent, embodied life in this fallen world. The horrendous accounts they contain of women who were marginalised, beaten, trafficked, enslaved, raped, murdered and dismembered speak to us realistically of a common plight of vulnerability to the exploitation of our bodies, and a common yearning for a better, safer existence. We see the suffering of Hagar (Gen. 16), Dinah (Gen. 34), Bathsheba (2 Sam. 11), Tamar (2 Sam. 13), the Levite’s concubine (Judg. 19–20), and many other unnamed sisters, and we find that their ancient stories live on in us and among us, and all is not well. The desperate plea of Tamar, ‘Don’t force me! Don’t do this wicked thing!’ echoes through the generations and articulates the longstanding predicament of women’s powerlessness.

Secondly, we find that God hears the human cries for justice, solidarity, and healing, and replies with an abundance of righteousness, love and grace. The Law, the Prophets and the Writings reveal an especial divine concern for the punishment of evildoers, the protection of the weak, the liberation of the oppressed, and the care of the bruised and broken-hearted, even if these ideals are not consistently realised in the community of faith. And the gospel reveals a God who supremely responds to our greatest needs by becoming human in the Incarnation—the giving of Godself for us in the life, death and resurrection of Jesus—which holds out the promise of our own eternal spiritual, emotional and bodily renewal through union with him.

In his letter to the Philippians, the apostle Paul draws on an early Christ-hymn (2:6–11) which contemplates the posture of Christ Jesus:

who, though he was in the form of God,
did not regard equality with God
as something to be exploited,
but emptied himself,
taking the form of a slave,
being born in human likeness.
And being found in human form,
he humbled himself
and became obedient to the point of death—
even death on a cross.

The hymn probes the remarkable voluntary humiliation through which the great ‘I AM’ was embodied and became a ‘me too’ victim through the tortures of crucifixion, thereby identifying himself with those of us who suffer as victims of hate and violence. As Dr Erin Heim has laid out in her autobiographical paper, ‘Resurrection and the #metoo movement‘, an often overlooked aspect of Jesus’ suffering is his subjection to a form of sexual violence. ‘They stripped him’ (Matt. 27:28), which was a public act of sexual humiliation, a #metoo moment through which he empathises with fellow survivors of sexual violence. Our communal remembering of the crucifixion with Jesus’ words ‘This is my body, which is for you’ (1 Cor. 11:24) thus rightly includes his experience of sexual abuse.

In Jesus’ shamed and tormented body, in the midst of violence, yes even sexual violence, the love of God is present to us. And in Jesus’ resurrected body, which is an eternally vindicated and healed and glorified body, the grace of God offers hope for the restoration of our own traumatised bodies. Paul assures us, those who by faith have been united with him in a death like his can certainly expect to be united with him in a resurrection like his (Rom. 6:5). A Christocentric perspective on violence against women therefore brings together the realities of our victimhood, Jesus’ victimhood, and his victory over evil and death, which is also ours.


What the gospel of ‘Him too’ means for me, as my mind and body keep the score of my own experience ov sexual abuse in the form of Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder, is the loving presence of God with me in the nightmare. Christ with me, Christ before me, Christ behind me, Christ beneath me, Christ above me, Christ on my right, Christ on my left, Christ when I lie down, Christ when I sit, Christ when I stand, Christ when I break. Christ in me, the hope of glory. It’s a consolation strong against despair. And it compels me to ask my Christian brothers and sisters, Do you love me, too? Because to belong to the Body of Christ is to feel the pain of his members as one’s own. To weep with those who weep, and rage with those who rage. To tend the wounds of those who are battered, and dismantle every oppressive notion and structure and practice.

Will you be instruments of grace in the Redeemer’s hands? Or will you be stumbling-blocks in the holy path to justice, liberation and healing?


Emily Gathergood is a PhD candidate in New Testament at the University of Nottingham, researching women in early Jewish and Christian texts and artifacts. Emily worships at Cornerstone Church, Nottingham, with her husband John and two children. Emily enjoys being a musician, creative, and forrager of wild food. You can follow her on Twitter @emilygathergood


The image at the head is a section from The Flagellation of Our Lord Jesus Christ by William-Adolphe Bouguereau (1825–1905)


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82 thoughts on “I AM and #MeToo: the Incarnation and violence against women”

  1. The case of Sarah Everard certainly captured my attention, not least because my wife would travel to and from work in Brixton (albeit by bus) during pre-Covid times. Thank you for your thoughts here, Emily.

    I hope I haven’t overlooked this in your article, but SCM Press has just published a book on Jesus and sexual abuse: When Did We See you Naked? Jesus as a Victim of Sexual Abuse.

    https://scmpress.hymnsam.co.uk/books/9780334060321/when-did-we-see-you-naked

    Reply
    • Thanks Terry! There is a lot of good work being done at the moment on the topic of Jesus as a victim of sexual violence, including the book you mention. I wanted to highlight Erin’s work in particular because I really appreciate the way she powerfully integrates her theology and her autobiographical experiences. See also David Tombs (1999), Elaine Heath (2011), Wil Gafney (2013), and Michael Trainor (2014), and Jayme Reaves (2020).

      Reply
  2. Destroyed lives and hand wringing are inevitable when:
    (1) the sexual revolution is embraced not rejected;
    (2) the lack (in fact the impossibility) of agreed rules and code once the clear married/non-married binary is rejected make rule-bending a given, which is bound to be maximised by anyone withva human nature;
    (3) so few joined with us to resist the onset of easy accessibility of pornography 20 years ago, and people seemed unable to see the big long-term picture and the inevitable long-term consequences.

    If people are not against the sexual revolution, against vague and unclear boundaries (and I am not talking about ‘consent’, whose shortcomings have been endlessly rehearsed, and can be repeated if necessary) and against pornography, then are they not part of the problem not of the solution?

    Reply
    • Oh, c’mon. Are you really suggesting sexual violence is a result of modern sexual mores? It doesn’t seem like you even read the article. Sexual (and other) violence against women has been a societal problem across every point of history and culture. Or are you claiming the “sexual revolution” was already happening back in ancient Israel? Please don’t deflect responsibility.

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      • I think that if you believe that modern sexual mores and culture has not had an influence on increased sexual violence towards women, then you have been living on another planet.

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        • I do basically live on another planet than you. I live on earth as a woman, not a man. That in itself means I have more firsthand knowledge on the topic than you. You are making statements that cannot be backed up by facts. Do you have some evidence showing that sexual violence is actually worse now than in history? And that it is directly caused by current cultural mores? Or are you just making assumptions based on your prejudices? I encourage you to do some research and, in particular, listen to the voices of women on these topics. And I especially encourage you to take up your own responsibility for preventing violence against women. And, to be clear, that doesn’t mean campaigning against gay marriage or making judgey posts about ‘those promiscuous folk nowadays’. It means holding yourself and your fellow men to account and speaking up and acting when they treat us in dehumanizing ways.

          As the author of this article, Emily Gathergood, said: “And it compels me to ask my Christian brothers and sisters, Do you love me, too? Because to belong to the Body of Christ is to feel the pain of his members as one’s own. To weep with those who weep, and rage with those who rage. To tend the wounds of those who are battered, and dismantle every oppressive notion and structure and practice.”

          Reply
          • Well said Natasha. Linking the so-called permissive society to every ill from sexual abuse to paedophilia is historically inept and a risible attempt to equate sins which entail the misuse of power with an age, not the first, of increasing sexual freedom.
            There is probably a greater link between shame and abuse than between permissiveness and abuse.

          • No. I think sexual violence is worst now than it has been in history, not least because of the larger numbers of people involved, but more importantly it has been **amplified** and organised to a greater scale in the media by instant image technology, film, and social media platforms facilitated by the internet. This was something the ancient world did not have.

            One of the things the sexual revolution produced was the relaxing on laws on pornography and its access, In the last few decades has led the to the objectification and exploitation of women (and children) on a scale which is unprecedented. You don’t need to go very far on the internet to see that. The sexual revolution has helped produce a climate where are really now no rules anymore what goes in sexual behaviour -each one to their own. Our own sexual freedom must be paramount.

            And yes, I have done my research and seen first hand evidence.
            It is now very easy for pre-teens let allow adults to access hard core porngraphic images at the click of a button either on their phones on their computers. As a school governor of a primary school, I have come across cases of 9 year old boys abusing girls. Sexting by pre-adolescents is now becoming commonplace. These boys then become men. What is now emerging in the UK news is how much of this is now rampant in our schools at a level that was unheard of 10 – 20 years ago.

            And then what about the ‘ fashionable sexual violence books’ like ’50 Shades of Grey ‘ written (incidentally by a woman!) about the objectification of a woman the author who, I would have thought, made a lot of money out of it and laughing all the way to the bank. I wonder how many who decry the things that Emily has pointed out have this book on their shelves?

            Yes, I do feel the pain of my female members and it makes me angry and I rage against it . And please don’t tell me I don’t listen to the voice of women in these situations Natasha. I have a 21 year old daughter and I often fear for her safety. She tells me of her fears and I do my utmost to protect her. I have seen her and her friends mix with men who really have only one thing on their mind and the values that they have picked up and I know where they obtain them from.

            I reject your assertion that the values of the so called sexual revolution and in particular consequential sexualisation of children, has played no part in what we are seeing today. All of these things have contributed to a cultural smog which thinks it’s just fine to treat women as objectified humans.

            I do not disagree with much of what you say Natasha, and actually I think we are on on the same side, but Christopher Shell is correct in pointing this out, and if we are to address these issues in any effective way then one thing we need to do (among others) is acknowledge the damage it has done.

          • Chris Bishop,

            I am glad that you listen to your daughter’s concerns and experiences. That is an important step though it’s not primarily what I meant when I said listen to women (in the context of historical violence against women). I was referring more to looking at what women are writing and researching and telling you about the course of history and our experiences in it.

            However, that’s not the main point I was hoping to make. I think where you and I most part ways is in assigning cause versus symptoms. Your original comment implied that the cause of sexual violence against women was our current sexually permissive culture. My assertion is that the specific issues we see nowadays are merely symptoms of the cause, not the cause itself. I am concerned that if you treat porn or any specific cultural manifestation of sexual violence as the cause, you will merely be treating a symptom and not recognising the true disease.

            It’s like blaming the atom bomb for humans being warlike. We didn’t create bombs and they made us violent; we are violent so we created more and more devastating weapons. We need to deal with the root cause of that violence or, even if we ban bombs, we’ll just find another outlet for violence.

            (And one more note, although it is unfortunately common, it is highly problematic to conflate sexual violence and what I’ll call illicit sex. They are two very different issues, generally come from different motives, and require very different solutions.)

          • 1. Thank you for the article – so important that we grapple with this – I need to listen and understand more. I have never considered the naked scourging of Jesus in the context the OP places it, but will reflect more this Holy week on this particular manifestation of the unholy.

            2. I rather think women have always been on the receiving end of male violence. Military history is one of my main areas of study and two books stand out as a shocking side narrative of war: Marta Hillers “A woman in Berlin” about the systematic rape of women under soviet occupation at the end of WW2; and “the Rape of Nanking” by Iris Chang about the systematic rape of every woman in the city when the Japanese invaded the Chinese city. (Reader Beware!!!!)

            3. But I do agree with Christopher’s point – Jesus warned that in the last days we will see an increase in lawlessness – at the weekend I watched a rated 12 movie and was staggered to hear the offensive language & the explicit sustained brutal violence – I had to turn it off and as a family discuss how a film rated 12 today was worse than movies rated 18’s in the 80’s.

            I think the prevalence of pornography, the often violent and vile objectifying of women, must surely be seeping into society and normalising the evil in many minds. William Blake wrote “They Become what they Behold” – and sustained watching for leisure and pleasure of evil must surely open the soul to it.

            4. It is crucial the Church understand the times and know what to do, and say. We also must be at the forefront of modelling and proclaiming the justice and righteousness of Jesus’ kingdom.

            5. The Holy Week narrative of Jesus’ anointing at Bethany (and parallel anointings) seems important to me in thinking through how Jesus treated women and how they saw him.

          • Thanks Simon, that is helpful. Worth also noting that, historically, men have been even more violent towards other men. At the moment, nationally and globally, the victims of violence are 4:1 men to women.

          • Thanks Ian – good point and I nearly offered it myself

            It is interesting that in the garden Adam is given the mandate to ‘subdue creation’ – but after the fall the subduing is used against peoples.

          • In other words, the real problem here is violence, full stop. There has been a lot of reflection on Jesus teaching on non-violence, but also on the cross as the place where Jesus absorbs the violence of the world. To that extent, I am not sure that Emily’s interrogation of the cross in relation to violence against women is that far off many historical readings.

          • Natasha, it was not my intention to imply that the sexually permissive culture we are in is a cause per se, but acts as an amplifier of sexual violence towards women. But you are right- the cause lies deeper and is inherent in our sinful natures.

        • I don’t think anyone denies it is having an influence. What it is doing is exacerbating a preexisting problem.

          The question being asked in the article isn’t “what’s causing this?”, but rather “how can we stop it?”. I agree with Christopher(s) in the sense that an understanding of ‘how we got here’ is integral to the debate, but as no one was denying this it does seem an odd place to start the discussion in the comments… Clearly the assumption was that the author would not agree with you, but nothing in the article implied so far as I was concerned.

          Reply
          • Mat,
            I think one way to stop this (or reduce it significantly) has to start at a young age and in schools and even before then. One has to imbue the correct attitude in boys right at the beginning. I think also, much stricter curbs have to be in place on social media platforms and on the internet. I know that this can be a hard thing to implement but I think that a lot more could be done.

            Also, the police do not appear to respond quickly enough to complaints from women. During the recent protest about Sarah Everard in Exeter, a woman was walking home from the protest and encountered a man exposing himself. She called the police but they couldn’t be bothered to respond, so think there needs to be a sea change in police attitudes.

            This also holds for domestic violence. There are far too many cases of the police failing to respond until a woman partner has been beaten senseless or even killed despite the police being warned.

            I don’t agree that men should be put in curfew after 6pm as suggested by a member of of the Green Party ( I’m not sure that was ever serious) but there are of course, things that men can do with their behaviour that make women feel safer.

            However, ultimately in the long run, to beat this, It must start with the very young and what can be done to ensure that males grow up with healthy attitudes towards women without being sexualised by the culture around them.

            I have probably now gone off the original thrust of Emily’s theological point.

          • I quite agree.

            1. Education from a young age on respect and consent.

            2. Strong families, with well informed and resourced parents, supported by strong communities.

            (2.5). Effective discipline around screens/devices and internet access within said families and communities.

            3. A church prepared to stand and teach a counter-cultural sexual ethic, and to speak truth to power on the damage these things can cause. A church that supports marriage and family…

            4. Non-hypocritical and well-respected leaders (both secular and religious)

            5. Proportional and present policing.

            These aren’t in any order, and the themes overlap, but I quite agree that the problem requires a multi-angled attack. My complaint, aimed in your general direction, was that you picked one when the article was arguing for many more.

            We do not have to pick one. 😉
            Mat

          • Oh, and for the record I also think a 6pm curfew for men is a silly idea. 😉

            You don’t solve the problem of dangerous, predatory and violent men, who absolutely do exist, by treating ALL men as if they are one and the same, which is what such a restriction would do.

            That said, it’s a better option than pretending there isn’t a problem. 😉

          • Education from a young age on respect and consent.

            No. Education must be on correct behaviour, not ‘consent’. For the simple reason that if you push the idea that ‘anything consensual is okay’ when they gets rephrased as ‘anything somebody agrees with is okay’ and then slides easily into ‘anything I can get somebody to agree with is okay’ and then ‘anything I can convince / pressure someone into agreeing with is okay’.

            The education must be on behaving correctly, and that means being clear that there are things which are wrong even if consensual, and ‘consent’ is not a magic cloak that makes anything allowable.

            (The rest is right, but your first point was very very wrong).

          • You are right, I should not have said ‘consent’ as if that was the only thing required. It is important, but the other things moreso.

          • The emphasis on consent is an unexploded bomb. *Of course* 2 youngsters will ‘consent’ to sleeping together. Just like they will *consent* to free tickets to Wembley Arena. The idea that such ‘consent’ is somehow praiseworthy or noble makes not the slightest sense.

          • I think the meaning of ‘consent’ in modern usage goes beyond simply an agreement to take part in sexual acts, but encompasses agreed standards of behavior and attitude as well.

            This is what I meant when I used it in my first point. When I used to teach teenagers about consent, the emphasis was about boundaries and behavior FIRST, permissions and invitation later.

            I am happy to concede again that this wasn’t clear, but I don’t want to be inferred as saying something I didn’t mean.

          • I think the meaning of ‘consent’ in modern usage goes beyond simply an agreement to take part in sexual acts, but encompasses agreed standards of behavior[sic] and attitude as well.

            No, I think you’ve got that backwards. It’s true that in modern usage the word ‘consent’ the concepts of an agreement to take part if sexual acts and agreed standards of behaviour (overrule your spell-checker please) and attitude have become coterminous, but I don’t think that has been an expansion of the meaning of ‘consent’ so much as a shrinking of the concept of agreed standards of behaviour.

            Consider for example the phrase ‘between consenting adults’ which is in modern usage a synonym for ‘acceptable behaviour. Nothing, in modern usage, can be considered not-okay if it is ‘between consenting adults’; anything that consenting adults do is considered okay.

            You can see this also in the mental gymnastics which modern usage has to go through to justify a prohibition on adultery. As ‘consent’ — in the sense of ‘agreement’ — of those involved is considered to be the only requirement of accepted behaviour, we have the ludicrous situation where adultery is considered unacceptable, when it is, only by means of stretching the meaning of ‘involved’ to included the cuckolded spouse who is deemed not to have ‘consented’, and this lack of consent given as the only reason as to why the adultery is wrong.

            (Contrariwise, adultery is usually deemed to be fine if the spouse knows about and accepts it — because then it is ‘consensual’ adultery, with the consent of the spouse, and ‘consent’ acts as a magic cloak that makes everything that occurs under it morally good).

            If you disagree, could you give an example of ‘consent’ in modern usage meaning something other than that anything, and only those things, which those involved (however far that is stretched) have agreed to, being acceptable behaviour?

          • The emphasis on consent is harmful, though obviously lack of consent is dreadful. Any consent-oriented system destroys the marriage culture and anything that destroys the marriage culture destroys (in time – so that people fail to see the connection) society, families, and individuals. If the marriage culture is destroyed then commitment and marital bonds – the only thing producing stability for us and our children – are broken, with effects on individuals, families, and society. If people do not have to wait to marry or sleep with someone, then they will not – which means that no bond strong enough and enduring enough will get formed in the first place, but instead a more chaotic muddle, and as a result the stability that we all need is taken away.

            It is incredible that ‘consent’ is put central when the New Testament puts it nowhere, and the reason is that our modern society (whose track record in family stability is lamentable) is putting ‘consent’ central and we are (like most) conforming. Comforming to a system which has a lamentable track record in family stability, when there is one that has existed in our lifetimes which has an excellent record in family stability which we are turning our backs on! A double error: embracing a failing system and rejecting a successful system. And going with the flow, i.e. the spirit of the present age (and how does the Bible characterise the spirit of the present age?), very different from God’s Spirit and indeed directly opposed.

      • Hi Natasha

        First of all: You italicise ‘sexual revolution’ – do you therefore think that 1950s sexual mores are the same as 1970s, or at least not that different?

        Secondly, we have to move beyond the argument ‘X has always happened’. Everything has always happened, simply because this is a large world. But things have not always happened at the same *rates*. In fact, depending on the norms and setup of a society, those rates can differ dramatically.

        If sex before or outside marriage becomes acceptable, then the floodgates are open for all kinds of pushing the boundaries, because the boundaries will henceforth always be unclear, and the unscrupulous will naturally milk that for all they are worth.

        Unless you’re in favour of clearer rules, and more emphasis on maturity and commitment, then that attitude remains (to repeat) part of the problem, not part of the solution. I mean, has secularism ever made things better in this regard? It has had enough time to try, but everywhere spectacularly fails, to no-one’s surprise, for it is set up and programmed to fail.

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  3. My wife and I know three Christian women who had sexual crime perpetrated against them: two were raped, one raped twice, and who had been subjected to sexual family crime as a child – all offences occur ING before they became Christians. Healing was prolonged, through Christian Counseling. A big hurdle was the question, where was God, where was Jesus in it all: that along with forgiveness.
    I really struggle with reading the crucifixion through the lens of sexual abuse. Is there any evidence that it was construed as such, in that Roman era, as it applied to crucified criminals. Nakedness had far wider connotations, as demonstrated in the Nazi concentration camps.

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  4. Thanks so much for this Emily and to Ian for posting – it is a significant issue and while the sexual violence that makes the press is of such an awful level that it cannot be ignored, the on line incel forums/pickup artist forums etc and the work of Laura Bates / Elaine Storkey etc reveal how it permeates society in so many ways. The Church of all shades is not immune as we have seen high profile cases and also IICSA and Fiona Gardner’s work. Until women are seen as people rather than objects – and seen as people that often function – whether by nature or nurture – in different ways to men and until there is space and encouragement to be the women God calls us to be men and women are going to be harmed by the prevailing sexist narratives in church and state. In actual fact, bringing the skills women have to bear will be part of the healing. There is a lovely quote by Susan Schneiders that I will find and add as a separate comment.

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  5. Here is the quote Susan Schneider says ‘Feminist spirituality prefers networks to chains of command, webs to ladders, circles and mosaic to pyramids, and weaving to building. It wants discourse to be both rational and affective, dialogue to replace coercion, co-operation rather than competition …, power to be used for empowerment rather than mastery, persuasion to take the place of force …’ – Oh for an organisational church and a society that could also behave in this way…

    Reply
  6. I found the way in which the article links sexual violence to the cross to be an eye opener – not a dimension I have considered. I thank the author for this.
    I encourage the author to think of the whole issue ONLY in this way – as a theological issue. Instead of thinking of sexual and racist violence as being a “social evil” as the author described them in the first paragraph she should instead call them what they are – actual evil. And instead of mentioning in passing what she believes to be the danger of complementarianism she should speak and act as if the gospel incarnated in the form of local churches is God’s only appointed salt and light for the world. And therefore the heart of the issue is what Christians should believe the Bible to be saying about the sexes and sexuality and how we must live if we believe it.
    To present a THEOLOGY of the sexes and sex differences we must do more than what people typically do when discussing the bible and sexuality – which is to give our view as to how specific passages of the Bible should be interpreted – instead we must seek for an OVERALL MESSAGE of the Bible concerning sexuality and sex differences – and then show how individual passages of scripture reveal that message. For our views to be theology that overall message must also be linkable to God’s CHARACTER – to knowing and serving him better. We know that God’s intentions for sexuality aren’t secondary issues – they aren’t for example only about reproduction or merely one of the great contrasts of creation such as day and night or earth and sea which add to creation. We do because in 1 Corinthians 6:9-10 Paul speaks as if behaviour whose only fault is to ignore sex differences is a sign of the person behaving in this way not being a Christian. Sexuality and sex differences must therefore lie at the very heart of the gospel – they must relate to THE CHARACTER of God. And we need to show in what way.
    ESV
    Or do you not know that the unrighteous will not inherit the kingdom of God? Do not be deceived: neither the sexually immoral, nor idolaters, nor adulterers, NOR MEN WHO PRACTISE HOMOSEXUALITY, nor thieves, nor the greedy, nor drunkards, nor revilers, nor swindlers will inherit the kingdom of God.

    Reply
    • Hi Philip,

      Thanks for engaging. I’m glad you found the second part of the piece eye-opening. I wouldn’t stress a distinction between “social evil” and “actual evil” – I think it’s problematic to think of sin only as a vertical, God-oriented thing and very much I want to affirm the horizontal, societal dimensions of sin as well. I think Christians have two great commandments/priorities: love of God AND love of neighbour. The social action of dismantling dangerous/oppressive beliefs and practices is very much an integral part of the latter.

      Emily

      Reply
      • You jumped from the two great commandments straight to dismantling dangerous/oppressive beliefs and practices.
        The two great commandments are a summary statement of the teaching of the whole Bible. If they have clear meaning without the rest of the Bible then we don’t need the Bible at all. I don’t hold that view – I believe we need the whole Bible to understand the nature of God and godly love.
        I’ve already explained that 1 Corinthians 6:9–10 shows that there must be something about sex differences which is fundamental to saving faith – fundamental to who God is. We therefore have no choice but to search all of scripture to understand how godly love and sex differences relate. Only when we draw an overall message from all of scripture and are able to link that overall message to the character of God do we have beliefs in the area of sexuality and sex differences which amount to being what should be called theology.

        Reply
        • “I’ve already explained that 1 Corinthians 6:9–10 shows that there must be something about sex differences which is fundamental to saving faith – fundamental to who God is. “

          You haven’t explained that at all. You have given a particular and not particularly convincing take on two verses that don’t actually deal with any differences between the sexes. The text simply doesn’t say what you suggest it says.
          Even if it did, the thrust of the Gospels, as opposed to the letters of Paul, suggest a prominent place for the witness and teaching of women. First witnesses to the resurrection; significant conversations with Jesus; God bearer. And so on.
          And even if it did, it would simply imply a kind of fundamentalism which is not what most Christians hold to.
          And even if it did, Paul might have been wrong.
          But it doesn’t.

          Reply
          • If Andrew needs me to acknowledge that 1 Corinthians 6:9-10 doesn’t exist in order to explain how sex differences reach to the heart of God and the gospel then I am happy to do that. No-one else needed me to say this because presumably to them it is self-evident that this passage isn’t written primarily to make that point.
            I used the passage only to make a point – that if in the context of marriage a man sleeping with a woman is not sin – or a sign that either is not a Christian – yet within same sex marriage a man sleeping with a man is a sign of them not being Christians – it’s clear that our recognising sex differences lies at the heart of the gospel and what it means to be a Christian.

          • I probably shouldn’t have bothered to make this point a second time. And I won’t be engaging any further to defend my use of the passage – I will let the reader make up his or her own mind if my conclusion from the passage is reasonable.

          • No one else needed you to comment because it’s self evidently nonsense. The passage has nothing to do with complimentarity.
            And if people committing sin makes them non Christian then there are no Christians in the world and never have been.
            Let the one without sin cast the first stone…..

          • And of course it is made clear elsewhere that in Christ – and therefore in God – there is neither male or female.

          • No, of course not. But it does imply that the differences between the sexes are not material to the very essence of God. Which is the opposite of what Philip Benjamin was trying to say. There is not something about gender which is fundamental to saving faith – fundamental to who God is. Fundamental to saving faith is that there is no distinction in terms of salvation between male and female.

          • Philip I’m simply quoting what you said:
            “I’ve already explained that 1 Corinthians 6:9–10 shows that there must be something about sex differences which is fundamental to saving faith – fundamental to who God is. “ All your words.
            I’ve explained two things.
            A. Those verses show nothing of the sort. They don’t even mention sex differences.
            B. Galatians 3.28 makes it quite clear that sex differences are absolutely not fundamental to saving faith. And that sex differences are absolutely not fundamental to who God is.

            You have also said that people committing sin makes them non Christian. Which of course is nonsense. Everybody sins. Only one was without sin.

          • For anyone wanting to catch up here’s a summary of the argument so far:

            PHILIP: “The fact that sleeping with someone of the opposite sex as part of marriage is not sin while 1 Cor 6:9-10 says that sleeping with someone of the same sex is sin and a sign one is not a Christian shows that there must be differences between the sexes which relate to the character and therefore glory of God”.

            ANDREW: “No it doesn’t”.

            PHILIP: “Yes it does”.

            ANDREW: “No it doesn’t”.

            PHILIP: “Yes it does”.

            ANDREW: “No it doesn’t”.

            PHILIP: “Yes it does”.

            ANDREW: “No it doesn’t”.

            PHILIP: “Yes it does”.

            ANDREW: “No it doesn’t”.

            On the basis that Andrew was the last to say “No it doesn’t” I officially declare him the winner. Which fortunately now means I am now free to watch a bit of telly and eat some chocolate.

          • Except of course you don’t actually address the three points I have made.

            “There must be differences between the sexes which relate to the character and therefore glory of God”. Is what you keep saying. It’s plainly wrong because the character of Jesus Christ shows us the character of God. And in Christ there is no difference between the sexes. (See above).

            And of course those who sin fall short. But if they are not Christian then there aren’t any Christian people anywhere because everyone sins.

            I know you want to make this about same sex relationships but it isn’t.

    • Philip

      Why do you highlight gay sex in the above passage by putting it in capital letters? The SEXUALLY IMMORAL part covers ALL STRAIGHT SEXUAL SIN committed every day by straight ‘Christians’ (sex or ‘heavy petting’ before marriage, porn etc).

      Peter

      Reply
      • Hi Peter,
        You’re absolutely right that every sin listed in 1 Corinthians 6:9–10 which amounts to being a lifestyle should be considered to be a sign according to Paul that we are not Christian. I only placed the section in capital letters because I was using the passage to point out that sex differences must be an issue which is fundamental to the nature of the gospel – not a secondary issue – and therefore our theology of the sexes must present link sex differences fundamentally to the character of God.

        Reply
  7. This is indeed a huge topic, which can and has been diagnosed and discussed outside the realm of Christian theology but as Tom Holland, near the end of his book, Dominion, posits the *metoo* movement would have no kinetic energy if it were not in some paradox
    tethered, in historical ignorance to Christian ethics.
    The whole western contemporary culture is hypersexualised and at rocket-fuelled speed has taken-off from from so-called repressed Christian sexual morality to full tilt, uninhibited boundary less, free-form sexual activity, by male and female unabashed sexual power-display, espoused by the likes of postmodernist, relativist, dedicated followers of Foucault, who yesterday in the Times was denounced as a paedophile and who espoused a philosophy to free his sexual proclivity.
    Culture is more than “double-minded” in its up -to date “intersectionality” seeking to denounce, upbraid on one hand , what it exalts, uplifts and embraces with the other.
    Who of us have had a perfect father, and a perfect mother who have lived out Godliness, their God given roles? Who have together demonstrated what God is like?
    I am late to the party but succumbed to getting “Gentle and Lowly – The Heart of Christ for Sinners and Sufferers” by Dane Ortlund.
    To assist in knowing the heart of God in Christ, it is proving to be deeply edifying. And men, look to Jesus if we want to know what it is to be “manly.”

    Reply
  8. “The manhandling of several women activists in an ill-judged, disproportionate crackdown by the Met amplified the disturbing case in point”

    – I think it’s important not to pre-judge any investigation into those incidents. The fact is that all of those gathered were breaking the law, but chose to ignore it. The original ‘vigil’ organisers even went so far as going to court to try to allow the gathering, but the court threw it out – if they gathered, they would be breaking the law. But they still gathered. The police in general appeared to be rather constrained given this law-breaking. No exception should have been made otherwise everyone would want an exception, like all of those people who didnt even get to attend their loved ones funerals during this Covid pandemic, or had to watch them die via Zoom.

    And one has to ask the question – why were some (a small minority) arrested? What did they do to deserve arrest? On one of the videos of an arrest, i noticed the ‘lady’ throwing an object towards another female protester – I wondered what she was carrying that she didnt want the police to find?

    And just to make a general point, although undoubtedly the vast majority of cases of sexual abuse or violence are by men against women, more and more men are being honest about being in abusive/violent relationships with female partners where it is she rather than he who is the perpetrator. Until very recently one rarely even heard about that. And speaking for myself, some of the most sexually potty-mouthed colleagues Ive worked with have been females. So let’s not wear blinkers when it comes to the female of the species.

    Peter

    Reply
    • The police in general appeared to be rather constrained given this law-breaking. No exception should have been made otherwise everyone would want an exception,

      They didn’t seem to have a problem making an exception for the statue-toppling protests last year; what was the relevant difference?

      Reply
      • That was a different police force, but they shouldnt have made an exception. Perhaps the Met had since learned that lesson. You cant have people making a mockery of laws, particularly when they are in place to protect the health of the country.

        Noone should be against peaceful protest, but in the current circumstances there is no excuse for mass gatherings.

        Reply
        • That was a different police force, but they shouldnt have made an exception.

          It wasn’t though. You’re probably thinking of the protests in Bristol, but there were statue-topplers in London too:

          https://www.standard.co.uk/news/london/london-police-office-take-knee-downing-street-a4459081.html

          Perhaps the Met had since learned that lesson.

          You don’t make up for giving exceptions to one group by then being stricter on another group. That’s basically exactly the kind of playing favourites the police are not supposed to do.

          Noone should be against peaceful protest, but in the current circumstances there is no excuse for mass gatherings.

          Of course there is. The fact is that coronavirus basically doesn’t spread outdoors: the movement of the air disperses the aerosolised virus particles before they can be passed on. You can see that in how none of last summer’s protests, nor any of the crowds at beaches, etc, caused any increase in infections. There is absolutely no reason for outdoor gatherings of any kind to be banned.

          And even if there were a small risk of spreading infections (which, again, there isn’t) the fundmanetal nature of the right to protest must be weighed against the public health benefit, and clearly the harm done to the body politic by disallowing peaceful protests that don’t get in people’s way far outweighs any public health benefit.

          That said, it’s not up to the police to refuse to enforce even stupid, unnecessary laws like this one. The blame for that rests squarely on the MPs who trooped into the lobbies to put such a brain-dead law on the books. We can’t blame the police for that at all.

          But also what is not up to the police, is to decide to selectively enforce the law; to take action against some protests and not others. That is what we can, and should, blame the police for, because that is what it seems they have, for reasons of their own perhaps related each lot were to turn violent, done.

          Reply
          • perhaps related each lot were to turn violent

            … perhaps related to how likely each lot were to turn violent…

  9. Indeed, Peter.
    It was an unlawful assembly.
    The police action was supported by female senior Officers.
    Having had direct experience of police action in my former job as a solicitor in very serious crimes of Affray , it is far too easy too draw wrong armchair conclusions from highly edited visual and written pieces.
    And I’m really not too sure what caused the tipping point in the responses to the murder, when so many other killings have taken place. Was the particular response exacerbated by the fact that the accused was a policeman?
    Someone may be along to enlighten me.
    As a point of balance, the police have responded in similar ways to men, in similar circumstances of unlawful assemblies.
    And Peter, MeToo, with female collegues.

    Reply
    • Indeed, a policewoman who was at the scene said tonight some in the crowd, presumably women, shouted at her that she should be raped and murdered.

      I have no time for such brainless idiots, and neither should the police.

      Reply
  10. This article makes me uncomfortable.

    I read it this morning when it was linked to on Facebook, and it’s been running through the back of my mind all day. I’ve had a bit of a chance to reflect on it now, and so I offer my thoughts organised as succinctly as I can.

    1. It makes me uncomfortable because it should; it was designed to.

    The truth makes us uncomfortable. The hugely saddening statistics about the crimes of violence towards women committed by men are something I file away in the back of my mind (as, I think, most people do), but every time I read, or rather, re-read them they still feel like a punch in the gut. And so they should.

    If nothing else, the article succeeds in ramming home the point.

    Even if I’m not surprised by them, the fact the stats never quite sink in (if I’m being honest) is still very real and I am not sure how to address that in my life. Suggestions very welcome. I will have to think about it more, and I suspect it will require some of those “break my heart for what breaks yours” prayers….

    2. It makes me uncomfortable because I am unfamiliar.

    The real value of the article was in the wider perspective. The pedant in me dislikes the term “trauma-sensitive readings” because my brain automatically connected it with the phrase “trigger warnings”, which isn’t really fair, but I’ve been looking (very briefly) at some of the books mentioned an added them to various wishlists and so on, but genuinely the whole area of writing on this, and connections between sexual violence and the treatment of Jesus, are things I’ve never seriously considered and the article has prompted me to try a bit harder.

    3. It makes me uncomfortable because I am guilty.

    That is to say, guilty of complacency at best and silence at worst. I don’t think this needs unpacking too much (comments sections are not therapy) but if I were to reflect on my ministry and ask myself if I’d really given so significant and widespread an issue the time and attention it deserved (in terms of both teaching/preaching and pastoral care) the answer would definitely be ‘no’, and I suspect if most people were honest with themselves they’d say the same.

    The sad truth is that I probably spent more time addressing these issues and talking about domestic violence and violence against women in general as part of my secular work with youth (for the local authority) than I have in my Christian ministry. I feel a little ashamed.

    And yes, quite uncomfortable.

    I suppose this comment is just a lengthy admission that I could do better…..
    Mat

    Reply
    • Dear Mat,

      Thank you so much for engaging and reflecting. Your response is humbling and is an outstanding model for others. All grace to you in your ministry,

      Emily

      Reply
  11. Thank you, Emily for your questions, insights and your concluding and moving testimony: the ‘consolation strong against despair’ of ‘the loving presence of God with me in the nightmare’.
    I often find, as one often called ‘to tend the wounds of those who are battered’, that although I want to make links between the wounds of Jesus and the traumas of those abandoned and abused, that these are not easy for any survivor to absorb. The words I might want to use are often the first stumbling blocks. Phrases like ‘God is your Father’, ‘Let Jesus draw near’, ‘Just open your heart and let the Holy Spirit enter’ are a potential minefield. Language that might seem warm and comforting to me does not instantly communicate when the emotional content of those words has already been corrupted by an abuser. When personal boundaries have been broken down, particularly by an authority figure, then not merely all men, but all of God, is a potential threat.
    Carefully used, prayer ministry can bring a unique dimension to the healing of trauma. Empathy, unconditional love, trustworthiness and patience, are part of that process, both from professionals and from friends. So is a willingness to walk in the valley of the shadow of deep darkness. To bathe in God, as you have described, is a beautiful outcome. For some, such an outcome seems inaccessible. There are those who must still walk by faith and hope, rather than by experience, and great indeed is the faith of those who walk that way. Your final question remains for all: ‘Do you love me too’.

    Reply
    • Dear Peter,

      Thanks for reading and sharing your thoughts and pastoral experience. Caring for and praying with traumatised people can be complex, as you say. I would point you in the direction of the Christian psychologist Dr. Diane Langberg, whose practice with trauma survivors, caregivers and clergy is, I think, exemplary. Her free resources and books can be found here:
      https://www.dianelangberg.com/resources/ including

      Every blessing,

      Emily

      Reply
  12. As a society we have gone soft on crime. That is the main problem. Until we take all crime seriously, no one will feel safe. The reaction to Sarah Everard’s death was revealing. It was entirely appropriate that people should be concerned but I notice that there were no calls for a reintroduction of the death penalty. If there had been a rally calling for a return of the death penalty, I wonder what the reaction would have been. I imagine that those on the Left who supported the rallies which did take place would have had a very different attitude. Suddenly, the need to observe the lockdown restrictions would have taken priority over any right to protest. So there is an element of hypocrisy in this.

    Reply
    • I wonder if Sarah Everard had been a black woman would there have been the same degree of protest?

      If a serving police officer had been arrested for her murder? Yes, I’m pretty sure there would.

      Reply
    • There would not. Two black women were murdered. Police took selfies with their dead bodies which were then shared,
      A ripple of shock. No outcry. No vigils.

      Reply
      • Where was this, Penelope?
        BTW are you the same Penelope Cowell Doe, who has this twitter handle?:

        “Penelope Cowell Doe( formerly Mary Crawford) @henry-sister
        What gentlemen among you am I to have the pleasure of making love to”

        Reply
        • I am genuinely surprised you are not aware of this.

          https://www.theguardian.com/uk-news/2020/jun/12/london-sisters-nicole-smallman-bibaa-henry-murdered-stranger-police.

          Their mother, Mina Smallman, was an archdeacon in the CofE (the nations first black female archdeacon) and has spoken about the horror of this many times in the press.

          The revelations about the ‘selfies’ and the disdain with which the victims and family were treated made the national news for several days. It was stunning in it’s callousness.

          My impression was that there was plenty of Outcry as well as shock, but Penelope is right about there being no vigil or any sustained protest.

          Reply
          • Mat,
            thanks.
            Could you answer the second question put to Penelope?
            BTW how would you preach from Biblical Wisdom literature, perhaps more particularly Proverbs, starting with the Twitter handle under the name of Penelope Cowell Doe?
            Let alone in your role as Local Authority youth worker? Would there be a different approach, a different teaching, an irreconcilable, uncomfortable, moral dilemma?

          • My impression was that there was plenty of Outcry as well as shock, but Penelope is right about there being no vigil or any sustained protest.

            Um… are you saying there were no sustained protests in London last June? Because… Well… I don’t know what to say to you if you missed it.

            There weren’t specific protests about the murder of those two young women, no. Perhaps people were protested out given all the other protests going on?

            But then there weren’t specific protests after the murder of Emily Jones either, and she was white.

            So clearly whatever was different about Sarah Everard, it wasn’t her ethnicity.

            I suspect, as I wrote, that the fact that a serving police officer was charged with the crime had a lot to do with it. the fact that a member of the police forces who are supposed to keep us safe had betrayed that trust in such a heinous way was bound to elicit a strong reaction.

          • PS. Mat,
            In light of your job, you may wish to consider this to be a rhetorical question to you, for self-reflective practice, rather than commit to a place of public record, that is, here in the comments section.

          • “Could you answer the second question put to Penelope?

            BTW how would you preach from Biblical Wisdom literature, perhaps more particularly Proverbs, starting with the Twitter handle under the name of Penelope Cowell Doe?

            Let alone in your role as Local Authority youth worker? Would there be a different approach, a different teaching, an irreconcilable, uncomfortable, moral dilemma?”

            I am sorry Geoff, I genuinely don’t know what you’re asking. This feels like a digression from the article though.

          • “Um… are you saying there were no sustained protests in London last June? Because… Well… I don’t know what to say to you if you missed it.”

            No. I was saying there was no *specific* vigil or protest that defined itself around that particular crime.

          • Hello May,
            There are two, perhaps three roles that could be considered by you in teaching, boys, young men in responding, their attitude to women , females they may encounter who have the attitudes towards them expressed, in Penelope’s Twitter handle:
            1 As preacher linking it to Proverbs scripture.
            2 As a Christian father?
            3 As a local authority youth worker.
            It may be a slight diversion fine the main points, but it is a significant component in Christian teaching in male female relationships and attitudes towards each other . And you did widen the topic in your discomfort in ways to teach male youths.
            As for violence I’ve had more than enough experience of being instructed by women, to obtain telephone legal aid approval to seek, take them to Court and obtain an immediate, exparte, temporary Family Court injunction with a warrant for arrest for breach to know this is a far from minor and rare matter.
            And instructed in sexual offences in criminal and civil proceedings and care proceedings that were so horrific that not all staff could stomach reading Court papers and statements.
            Some were external but most were arising from family circumstances and people known to them.

          • I was saying there was no *specific* vigil or protest that defined itself around that particular crime.

            Perhaps at the time people were all protested out from all the other protesting they had been doing, and were resting up in order to be ready for some more protesting later on.

          • And for evidence, follow Ian Paul’s Twitter link, in which he retweets part of a Twitter exchange, involving you, from which my question was derived, accessed earlier today.

          • Geoff

            I’ve just looked at Ian’s Twitter feed since I don’t recall engaging with him on Twitter recently. Are you referring to Ian’s retweeting Tiffer Robinson’s replies to me in the context of a discussion on clerical abuse?
            If so, I’m afraid I still can’t see what your problem is.

          • Geoff

            I have no wish to derail Emily’s excellent post, nor the ensuing discussion, but I think you owe me an explanation of your gnomic comments which neither Mat nor I understand.

            I infer that you either think there is something wrong with my Twitter handle or that you believe I acted wrongly in discussing clerical abuse with Tiffer Robinson.

            Penelope Cowell Doe is my name. My account used to have the pseudonym ‘Mary Crawford’. I cannot, for the life of me, think what is wrong with that.

            Please have the courtesy to reply.

          • “I have no wish to derail Emily’s excellent post, nor the ensuing discussion, but I think you owe me an explanation of your gnomic comments which neither Mat nor I understand.” -PCD

            Quite. You have united us in confusion.

            I think I understand what you’re asking me from your most recent comment, but I would say two things in general response.

            First, it’s a major digression from the substance of the article, and I don’t think it would add much to expand the discussion along that tangent here. As I said in my main comment above, I do not know how best to teach these things and I am sure that I have got it wrong at least as much, if not more, than I have got it right…

            In any case a lot of the comments seem to be trying to drag the conversation somewhere else, and while that ‘somewhere’ is important there are plenty of opportunities to discuss it elsewhere. In any case a lot of the comments seem to be trying to drag the conversation somewhere else, and while that ‘somewhere’ is important there are plenty of opportunities to discuss it elsewhere.

            Second, Penelope’s twitter handle is a quote from Mansfield Park. In that respect it’s entirely innocent. There may be a context I’m unaware of where that’s not the case, but I see no reason to assume that.

            Mat

          • Geoff: I too would like to read your answer to the question. What on earth is your problem?
            I have no understanding of your subsequent questions to Matt either I’m afraid. What are they about?
            And it is most surprising that you had not heard of the news item that Penny refers to. Seriously?

          • Thank you Mat. The quotation, instead of a bio is, indeed, from Mansfield Park, and asked by Mary Crawford. Who is to be her Anhalt?

    • Very much out of sequence, Chris, but I greatly appreciated your impassioned fatherly concern, above, for your daughter, a reflection, I’d suggest, by extension of our Father’s heart for all his daughters. Thank you.

      Reply

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