228. #MeToo — Are Men Willing to Take Responsibility for How We Have Pained Women?

sad woman sitting alone in a empty room.

I’ve had multiple requests to offer some commentary on the “#MeToo” phenomenon. Because of an incredibly busy schedule, this has been my first opportunity.

If you’ve been living on a deserted island for the last few weeks, the Me Too movement (originally launched 10 years ago by Tarana Burke) launched into hyper-drive recently when, in response to the sexual assault charges against Hollywood mogul Harvey Weinstein, actress Alyssa Milano invited women who had been sexually assaulted or harassed to write “#MeToo” in response to her tweet. Millions have done just that.

I pray this becomes an opportunity for our entire culture to take an honest look at the roots of the crisis. Does anyone take us to these roots more directly than Christ in his teaching from the Sermon on the Mount? “You have heard the commandment not to commit adultery. But I say to you that everyone who looks at a woman lustfully has already committed adultery with her in his heart” (Mt 5:27-28).

Of course, it’s a two-way street. History demonstrates that women know how to use and manipulate men just as much as men know how to use and manipulate women. That said, women have suffered in a particular way throughout history at the hands of male lust and domination. And it would seem that men have a special responsibility to restore the balance of love and respect between the sexes.

How do we begin the long journey toward healing? Christ calls us first and foremost to repentance. In that light, I would like to ask all the women reading this blog to allow me, as a representative of the male side of the human race, to apologize humbly for the way male lust and domination have wounded you. The wounds go so very deep in a woman’s soul, and I am very, very sorry.

For the ways we have treated you in thought or deed as an object for our own pleasure and enjoyment, please forgive us.

For the ways we have ignored you or rejected you because you haven’t met our impossible standards of “beauty” or haven’t aroused our lusts, please forgive us.

For the ways we have seen your differences as a threat to our own fragile sense of security rather than a complement and a gift, please forgive us.

For the ways we have used our strength to manipulate and control you rather than honor and serve you, please forgive us.

For the pride and sense of superiority that have led us to ignore your counsel and belittle your point of view, please forgive us.

In all the ways we have failed to love you as Christ loves the Church, please forgive us. We know not what we do. Jesus, please lead us to the fullness of healing.

I’m not saying these things in the abstract. I know that my own attitudes have hurt women in my life. This is the point: there is a sickness in all of us as human beings that leads us to treat others with less than the love and respect every human being deserves. And this sickness affects our sexual attitudes in a particularly direct way.

No laws or regulations in themselves will change these deep-seated attitudes and selfish inclinations. That’s the point of Christ’s words: “You’ve heard the commandment … but I tell you…” We need something more than external restraints and regulations. We need a deep-down conversion of heart; a deep-down redemption of our sexual attitudes and desires.

The Cor Project exists to help people journey along this path. To learn more, watch our recently released short film The Cry of the Heart here.

Question: Have you seen good fruit being born from the #MeToo movement? If so, please share on Facebook and Twitter.

Image: Chayantorn, iStockphoto.com.

For such a time as this have we been given Saint John Paul II’s Theology of the Body. By taking us beyond the alternatives of prudish repression and damaging indulgence, the Theology of the Body opens the path to the redemption of sexuality and the real healing of our wounds. Learn more by watching my short film, The Cry of the HeartWatch the trailer below.

Watch the Short Film