The news saddens me.
It seems every day, every where, women are suffering sexual abuse and victimization at the hands of men. I was having a discussion about this the other day and was surprised to be told, when I said that I simply couldn't understand the 'why' behind the problem, that as a gay man I didn't 'get' the sexual politics between men and women. That shut me up and effectively sidelined me from the conversation until I realized something simple.
There is no sexual politic.
Yes is yes.
No is no.
Without a yes, it's no.
Isn't that simple?
I am aware that as I write what I'm going to write that I am not a theologian. I only once went to a Bible class but left when they got to the part about gay people being terrible sinners with unredeemable hearts. So, I write what I write naively from my own meagre understanding of the scripture.
At Christmas, as the story of the birth of Christ is read in churches all over the world, will people notice that it all begins with a woman's consent.
Mary said 'Yes.'
Nothing happened until Mary said 'Yes.'
Mary asked questions.
And nothing happened until Mary said 'Yes.'
Perhaps, to me, the most significant moment in the Christian story begins with a poor woman, with little power - still having the power to choose. Christianity, then, is built on consent and a woman's inherent right to say 'no' - even to God - when the issue was about her body. Her body. Her choice. I've never heard this preached on. But as someone who works with offenders, it speaks loudly to me.
Christianity has a checkered history when it comes to respecting women.
But God doesn't.
Because Mary said, 'Yes' and the story begins.
I am a gay man. True. But the idea that consent is something that is only understood in the context of male/female politics is absurd. Consent matters in the context of any human relationship. Consent matters when it comes to sex, but it matters when it comes to almost everything.
I believe this.
My faith is built upon a woman's 'Yes.'
Christmas begins with a quiet and thoughtful 'Yes.'
Christmas begins with consent.
May you all live in the world where your consent and the consent of those around you is sought and respected and, ultimately, heard.