A few months ago, I had the chance to meet with a woman and fellow Biola student over coffee. While on the one hand, I was excited to catch up with a woman who had grown in her faith tremendously – from what I would argue was nonexistent to someone who was really searching for real Peace and Hope. On the other hand, I wanted to apologize for some of my actions that occurred with her during my rebellious and sinful time early on in my Biola career.
Everything went extremely well and it was a time of healing and forgiveness for both of us.
However, what I didn’t expect was to hear that during her freshman year of college, she was date raped by a fellow Biola student. By God’s grace, she is healing and is processing what it means to search for real Jesus. My hope and prayer is that she finds His all-encompassing love and redeeming power in her life.
I write this in wake up of this week’s Sexual Violence Awareness campaign on our campus. I love it. It’s an important conversation to start, continue, and immerse ourselves in on a continual basis, because it’s a taboo topic that needs to be brought into Gospel and Truth driven light.
This post is a follow up to my previous post on Depression, Porn, and Sexual Assault. While the first post was thoughts on how we as students and student-leaders should act and react, this post is to be more focused on the message of the Cross and the immense power of redemption that can take place because of Jesus Christ’s sacrifice and resurrection.
According to Dr. Justin S. Holcomb and his wife Lindsey, who put together an extensive book on this very topic titled, Rid of My Disgrace, 1 in 4 women and 1 in 6 men will be sexually assaulted in their lifetime.
Although descriptions vary, I will use the Holcomb’s definition of sexual assault, which is fairly broad, so that we don’t minimize those who experience it.
Dr. Holcomb says that:
“Our definition of sexual assault is any type of sexual behavior or contact where consent is not freely given or obtained and is accomplished through force, intimidation, violence, coercion, manipulation, threat, deception, or abuse of authority. This definition gets beyond our society’s narrow understanding of the issue and expands the spectrum of actions to be considered sexual assault.”
Breaking down the numbers the Holcomb’s’ put together or referenced is astounding, heart breaking, infuriating, and if you call yourself a follower of Christ, should light a burning fire in your heart to help these victims.
To quote my previous blog, here is a rundown.
· Every 2 minutes someone in the US is sexually assaulted.
· 17% (or 1/6) men and 25% (1/4) women are or will be victims of sexual assault in their lifetime.
· 90% of young women involved in prostitution (or porn, adult entertainment, etc.) were sexually abused as children.
· 80% of victims are assaulted by a known acquaintance.
· 80% of victims are under 30.
· Only 5-20% of assaults are actually reported.
My heart is grieved when I reread these stats. We’re facing an epidemic – and without resolution. If we break this down, that means anywhere from 750-900 students are sexual assault victims on our campus.
I took the liberty to break it down into terms for Biola students to really comprehend the staggering effect of sexual assault and how it reaches our campus:
If you take a floor of 60 girls in a dorm, 15 are assault victims.
On a floor of 60 guys, 10 are victims.
If you add them up, in a dorm relative to the size of Horton, there are 90 women and 40 men who have been sexually assaulted in one dormitory alone.
I would like to dedicate the next two portions of this blog to those who have been sexually assaulted, and then the men and women on Biola’s campus.
To those who have been sexually assaulted:
First of all, I am sorry.
What you have gone through isn’t a reflection of who you are, it doesn’t need to be your identity, and you have the every right to come and shed light into your past if you haven’t already done so.
You experienced one of the greatest injustices in the world, and an injustice that isn’t spoken about or talked about enough.
· You have nothing to be ashamed about.
· You are loved and cared about by many around you.
· There are ways to get helped – to those who are carrying it from their past and to those who are still being sexually assaulted in this very moment.
Most importantly, God not only cares for and loves you, but he also knows your very pain and experienced your very suffering.
Hebrews 4: 14-16 says, “…For we do not have a high priest who is unable to sympathize with our weaknesses, but one who in every respect has been tempted as we are, yet without sin. Let us then with confidence draw near to the throne of grace, that we may receive mercy and find grace to help in time of need.”
When Jesus was sent to live on this earth in the form of man, He did it with one agenda: to save this world from their depravity and to provide the ultimate justice, peace, hope, and love by the all redemptive work of His death on the cross and His resurrection from the tomb.
That’s the Gospel message. When Christ was put on the Cross, the sins of the world’s history to come was put upon Him.
You were sinned against. Whether it was sins of omission, by a father who didn’t do anything, as Jacob sat on the sidelines and gave up his own daughter (Gen. 34), or sins of commissions as someone acted against you, you were sinned against. And while you are not necessarily to blame for this sin, because sin affects everyone one our souls, it has a strong effect on you.
But know that Christ suffered so that you may be redeemed.
1 John 4:10 says, “In this love, not that we loved God, but that He loved us, and sent His Son to be the propitiation for our sins.”
God mourns for you and with you. If you are a follower of Christ, God has already given you Himself through the Holy Spirit to be continually sanctified in this process that you might be healed.
In Romans 8:26, Paul writes, “Likewise the Spirit helps us in our weakness. For we do not know what to pray for as we ought, but the Spirit himself intercedes for us with groaning too deep for words.”
I plea with you to pursue grace, truth, and the redemptive work of the cross with a fervor and passion your soul has never before longed for. That you no longer hide behind this identity of pain and brokenness; that you seek – and find – justice by and through Christ’s ultimate sacrifice, and that you can find His grace is sufficient in all things, as Paul writes in 2 Corinthians 12:9.
I have one recommendation for you as you journey through this process:
Buy a journal. Write out your sexual past including sexual acts you’ve committed to consensually and sexual acts that were committed against you sinfully. From your earliest memories – as some of you reading this were sexually assaulted as early as your time in diapers – to the things going on in your life right now. It could take hours, days, weeks, months, and I guarantee it will take more than a few boxes of tissues, but it’s worth it.
For more resources on the evidence of God’s grace, love, and understanding, please check out Rid of My Disgrace ($15 on Amazon).
One Final Note:
To those that don’t believe this is a subject to be broached by chapels and events, that this is to be kept in the confines of the church or counselors office, or that it doesn’t affect our campus.
You’re wrong, and I will go as far to say by hindering the healing process of the Gospel, you are acting out in a selfish and sinful way by desiring to sidestep the conversation all together. Never limit the work of the Cross and understand that as hard as it is to admit, Biola students are not exempt to sin and there are certainly a percentage of students who do not know real Jesus on our campus.
We have an epidemic of sinful desires at our school, that I know both vicariously and first hand. We have students clubbing, doing drugs, drinking alcohol, watching porn, and being sexually active on campus – and may I add, this doesn’t even begin to touch the subject on homosexuality.
Yes, there have been people caught (and not caught) drinking or doing drugs on our campus.
Yes, there have been people caught (and not caught) having sex within our campus confines.
I have heard stories of students engaging in sexual acts with roommates present. I have heard stories of date rape. I have heard stories of students struggling with homosexuality and roping their friends into experimenting with it.
I have heard these stories from the students themselves. From their RA’s. From student leaders and staff members.
It is a problem, and it’s one we need to address.
One Final (Final) Note:
Don’t be stupid. Don’t act like you believe in this subject, act as if you will protect your sisters, and go back to your dorm room to watch porn.
Don’t go to clubs or certain dances that I don’t even need to name and grind up on some girl because you either don’t know her, or you know she’s “down,” or she goes to another school. You’re objectifying them, most of them either Christians or in desperate need of Him (as we all are), and you will most likely go home and finish off your “needs” if you don’t “get some” there.
Don’t raise your hands in worship if you’re feeling up under your girlfriend’s clothes in the car before. Don’t share your theological “wisdom” in class and then go and try to convince a girl to send you pictures from her phone.
First of all, if you think I’m being extreme. I’m not – I know guys personally who have done or still do these things. Second of all, before I started committing all aspects of my life to Christ, I was guilty of many of these things to some degree or another. And I promise you this – it’s an identity issue that normally finds its roots from insecurity, pride, and lust.
You too need some encouragement. I want to encourage you to find your fulfillment and sense of identity in Christ and not in the ways of the world.
You don’t need to sell yourself short and become a PG-13 version of Girls Gone Wild on the dance floor (and sometimes worse) to find validation from men. Dr. Barry Corey covered that today, and so I encourage you to watch that video when it becomes available this week.
If objectifying yourself is what makes the man you want or are currently dating happy with you, he’s not a man. He’s a little boy. If you continue to let yourself be objectified by these boys, you will find yourself in an abusive relationship (either physical, emotional, or both), and one that statistically speaking, leads to divorce.
Please know that God sent His Son to be beaten while blindfolded, flogged, and crucified on a cross (to be raised from the dead of course!) for you, so that you can be rooted in His love, mercy, grace, and tenderheartedness.
If a man is telling you that your heart for Christ isn’t enough – that you must sell yourself for the sake of “love” then that man doesn’t love Jesus and that man wants to be your Jesus.
Find women who love Jesus who are smarter and wiser than you, who have perhaps journeyed through this. Find a community group in your church for starters, and perhaps approach a Biola professor for someone they have in mind (if it’s a woman, maybe it can be them, and if it’s a man, perhaps his wife!).
He himself bore our sins in his body on the tree, that we might die to sin and live to righteousness. By his wounds you have been healed. For you were straying like sheep, but have now returned to the Shepherd and Overseer of your souls.
(1 Peter 2:24-25 ESV)
Know that I’m filled (as are many) with a compassionate love and care for you and your pain, and I would love to either connect with you or provide someone trustworthy that you can connect with, whether it’s in La Mirada or around the globe. Feel free to email me and I will provide resources and contacts for you!