#METOO: Dr. Sandra Glahn
I asked my friend Sandi to weigh in on the #metoo, and I want you to see her credentials before reading our conversation. You should buy her new book Vindicating the Vixens: Revisiting Sexualized, Vilified, and Marginalized Women of the Bible.
Dr. Sandra Glahn, BA, ThM, PhD is the Associate Professor of Media Arts and Worship at Dallas Theological Seminary. Dr. Glahn is a multi-published author of both fiction and non-fiction, a journalist, and a speaker who advocates for thinking that transforms, especially on topics relating to art, gender, sexual intimacy in marriage, and first-century backgrounds as they relate to gender. Dr. Glahn’s more than 20 books relate to bioethics, sexuality, and reproductive technologies as well as 10 Bible studies in the Coffee Cup Bible Study series. She is a regular blogger at Engage, bible.org’s site for women in Christian leadership, the owner of Aspire Productions, and served as editor-in-chief for Kindred Spirit from 2008 to 2016.
Kat: Dr. Glahn, you're at the crossroads of faith and education as a professor at Dallas Seminary and as a result you are initiating conversations in your classes with many male students (most are aspiring pastors or theologians) to talk about a pervasive rape culture. What do those conversations look like?
Dr. Glahn: We educate both women and men. Most women in church culture have had modesty taught to them in such a way that they think they are responsible for their brothers’ actions. We try to help both women and men see the difference between women loving their brothers in how they dress and taking full responsibility for their brothers’ thoughts.
Let me flip the script to illustrate. If a man walked down an alley alone and I entered the same alley with a weapon, would it be his fault if I attacked him—for being alone? If a man getting out of a swimming pool lost his shorts, would it be his fault if a woman grabbed his genitals? Of course not. How ludicrous. Yet we teach women that men cannot control themselves. That a woman alone is asking for it. That a woman half-dressed is asking for it. What a low view of men this is, as if they have no agency!
Also, most evangelical churches have all men in the leadership structures. Men are in the positions of power, and they may cover for each other in the same way we saw Hollywood people covering up. Who wants their church scandal in the paper? It can be like an old boys’ club of enabling and protecting. So church can be an extremely difficult place for a woman to call out abuse on the part of a leader.
We need women in leadership and even invited to elder meetings in churches that do not believe in women elders. Nothing says women must be barred from such settings. And if we believe in the complementary relationship of men and women, that God made us to work together, we need to do a better job of partnering for the work of ministry.
When it comes to men and women, the easiest way to educate is through having them read a series of blog posts on rape culture.
Often after reading this series, our men—and there are many good men at DTS—are horrified and grieved and want to rise up and help.
One more thing—when a woman has been violated, people often have a good desire to protect her. But if the ramifications involve more limits on her freedom, it can feel like she is being punished when it was not her fault. It's important for people in ministry to help parents and spouses and those on the front lines understand this. Don’t punish the victim or in any way suggest he or she should have prevented the violation.
Kat: If you could tell the male pastors, church leaders and seminary leaders one thing about crimes against women what would it be?
Dr. Glahn: I would tell them the stats and hopefully that would make them inclined to believe women who come forward: https://www.rainn.org/statistics/victims-sexual-violence
Kat: Since you have access to many victims, what do you think they would want you to say on their behalf?
Dr. Glahn: Please help us normalize speaking up rather than normalizing “locker room talk” and groping and rape. If a victim confides in you about a violation endured, know that “I believe you” is a much more powerful response than “I’m sorry.”
And getting good and angry is a righteous response. We often talk so much in Christian circles about how bad anger is, and often it is, but we fail to say THIS is a situation in which anger is an appropriate response. The best use of anger is channeling it toward justice. We can be angry and sin not; it’s healing to see someone outraged over an outrageous violation.
Also, don’t assume that those who speak out on this issue are doing so because they are wounded or harbor bitterness or any other particular psychological motivation. If they are, so what? But often they just love justice. You don’t have to be wounded to stand up for others who have been injured.
Kat: Many women are grieving a sense of worthlessness in our world today. What would you say to that woman?
Dr. Glahn: We start with our worth in Christ. What are we worth to God? The blood of His only Son. That makes every human a walking manifestation of glory that is infinitely precious to God. We did nothing to earn it; we do nothing to lose it.
That said, God has a task for each believer to do. And we can feel worthless if we fail to use our spiritual gifts for the benefit of the Bride of Christ. Sometimes a sense of worthlessness can be the prompting we need to drive us to ask Him what we can contribute to His work in the world. When my father had Alzheimer’s, his task was to worship God every day despite his inability to accomplish anything other than receiving assistance, though once in a while we asked him to shuck corn—which made his day. But most of us are not similarly disabled, and God is whispering to us that He has holy work for us. We humans were made for work—it is not part of the curse. The curse makes our work more difficult, but work itself is a holy calling.