**Before we start let me put a disclaimer that this is going to be a raw one. And maybe one that should have a 12a rating**
So a friend of mine shared this brilliant article on Facebook yesterday, and when I read it I had to follow suit.
I agreed with it so much that I may have actually let out a ‘hell yes’.
It was about consent.
As in, the-shouldn’t-really-be-but-yet-is-still-debated-issue of sexual consent.
I’m going to quote the original article and put a link to it if you want to read the full thing, because despite the pretty rough around the edges language (I’m not advocating swearing, but I think the bigger issue here is more important!), I think it makes the point pretty darn well.
Talking about when sexual activity is consensual… And when it is not.
If you’re still struggling, just imagine instead of initiating sex, you’re making them a cup of tea.
You say, “Hey, would you like a cup of tea?” and they go, “OMG, f**k yes, I would f**king LOVE a cup of tea! Thank you!” Then you know they want a cup of tea.
If you say, “Hey, would you like a cup of tea?” and they um and ahh and say, “I’m not really sure…” then you can make them a cup of tea or not, but be aware that they might not drink it, and if they don’t drink it then — this is the important bit — don’t make them drink it. You can’t blame them for you going to the effort of making the tea on the off chance they wanted it; you just have to deal with them not drinking it. Just because you made it doesn’t mean you are entitled to watch them drink it.
If they say, “No, thank you,” then don’t make them tea. At all. Don’t make them tea, don’t make them drink tea, don’t get annoyed at them for not wanting tea. They just don’t want tea, okay?
They might say, “Yes, please, that’s kind of you,” and then when the tea arrives they actually don’t want the tea at all. Sure, that’s kind of annoying as you’ve gone to the effort of making the tea, but they remain under no obligation to drink the tea. They did want tea, now they don’t. Sometimes people change their mind in the time it takes to boil that kettle, brew the tea and add the milk. And it’s okay for people to change their mind, and you are still not entitled to watch them drink it even though you went to the trouble of making it.
If they are unconscious, don’t make them tea. Unconscious people don’t want tea and can’t answer the question, “Do you want tea?” because they are unconscious.
Okay, maybe they were conscious when you asked them if they wanted tea, and they said yes, but in the time it took you to boil that kettle, brew the tea and add the milk they are now unconscious. You should just put the tea down, make sure the unconscious person is safe, and — this is the important bit — don’t make them drink the tea.
If someone said “yes” to tea around your house last Saturday, that doesn’t mean that they want you to make them tea all the time. They don’t want you to come around unexpectedly to their place and make them tea and force them to drink it going, “BUT YOU WANTED TEA LAST WEEK,” or to wake up to find you pouring tea down their throat going “BUT YOU WANTED TEA LAST NIGHT.”
Ok. So what’s the big deal?
Maybe for some of you this isn’t a hugely relevant thing.
But the thing is, for me it is.
It’s personal, and deeply personal.
And I believe there are far too many individuals for who this is personal and deeply personal. And I believe there are far too many individuals who don’t know what to do, or where to go, or who to be, now that they’ve lived through these things.
So if you’ll allow me to be deeply real with you in a way that may make you feel deeply uncomfortable.
I was a victim of sexual violence.
Breathe. Say it again.
I was a victim of sexual violence.
Let’s clarify that (according to UK law for a second).
Sexual violence is ANY unwanted sexual act or activity. It includes, but is not limited to, rape.
If I can quote the UK Rape Crisis centre, ‘Sexual violence is any unwanted sexual act or activity. It can be perpetrated by a complete stranger, or by someone known and even trusted, such as a friend, colleague, family member, partner or ex-partner. Sexual violence can happen to anyone. No-one ever deserves or asks for it to happen.100% of the responsibility for any act of sexual violence lies with its perpetrator. There is no excuse for sexual violence – it can never be justified, it can never be explained away and there is no context in which it is valid, understandable or acceptable’.
So yes, sexual violence can take place within a marriage, or within a relationship, or in a work place. It can take place anywhere. It can involve rape. It can also involve a whole host of other definitions that I’ll leave you to check out on the Rape Crisis Centre website if you need to.
Sexual violence is one of those weird terms because it’s often not a violence that leaves a bruise or a broken bone or anything externally visible. Sometimes it does. But in many cases not.
Actually, there were some days where I longed for my ex-husband to punch me in the face, just so I felt like I’d have a real excuse to leave.
(That’s a ridiculously unlogical and wrong way of thinking by the way. I’m just being honest.)
So I was married.
It was a painful, long and dark season.
But it is a season I survived.
More than survived.
This story doesn’t have a sad ending.
I was fortunate enough to have some of the best people in the world fighting for me.
I have been fortunate enough to have some of the best people in the world fighting with me in this journey of restoration ever since.
My nightmares, both the ones that used to plague my sleeping and my waking, have ceased.
I learnt that joy does come with the morning, and Holy Spirit truly has taught me how to fly again.
I’ve seen the sunrise.
And so from a hopeful ending, let’s backtrack and consider this issue of consent.
Guys (or girls), if she says ‘No’, it means ‘No’.
If she’s crying, it means ‘No’.
If she’s in pain, stop.
If she’s sick, don’t exploit that.
The Bible is never a tool to justify your sexual appetite.
Don’t use your job or your social status as a cover-up for what goes on behind closed doors.
If you have a problem with pornography, fix that first.
Lust exploits. Love protects.
It links straight into our vulnerability.
Lust sees vulnerability as an opportunity for exploitation. Love sees vulnerability as an opportunity for protection.
Because, and this is where it gets really, really, really real… When Jesus loved us, He saw where we were weak and He clothed us in His strength and His righteousness. He cared for us when we were at our most broken. When we were shattered by the consequences of our sin, it was then that He carried us.
When I share my testimony with girls, this is an area I talk on at length with them. I really believe that a man should be a woman’s natural protector. And when you fear the one who should be your natural protector, there’s a problem. The way that a guy treats you when you are ill, when you are asleep, when you are upset, is like a real window into what’s going on in his heart. It was for me. Because real love always protects.
I love that Jesus fought for me and fights for me still. And I love that He never calls us to remain in a situation of exploitation. His protection is so much bigger than that.
And people, let’s please, please, please, protect the vulnerable. Let’s be real certain that God’s heart is for the oppressed.
If you feel like you’re nothing, or that you’ve failed, or that you’ve let everyone down… Please hear me when I tell you that you have a future.
God has not abandoned you and you are not alone.
There’s life after sexual violence. There’s life after rape. And it’s not a half life, it’s a healed life. It’s a whole life.
As Christians, we have to walk this out.
To walk in love is to walk with Holy Spirit.
It is to walk differently. To walk in purity.
And purity is not about what we did yesterday, purity is all about who we choose to be today. And today, we can change our minds (Hosanna Wong).
So, here I will finish. With His grace and our choice.
But in deeply loving each other, and praying for each other and protecting each other, and forgiving each other, we have to remember that lust is the great enemy of love.
And I believe in love. I really do. I’ve been harmed by lust and felt it’s affects. I’ve got the battle-scars to show from the journey. But just as we should never lose faith in love because someone else failed us, so we can ALWAYS have faith in love because we are in relationship with the one true God who never, ever will.
(And if you want to read my full testimony, you can do that here -> https://beautifulsilliness.com/2013/09/04/the-word-is-hope/)