On Really Respecting Someone (re-post)
Note: As you read this, I’m in Costa Rica leading a team of college students on a 2 week service project. So enjoy this flashback post; it’s the #1 most shared post of all time on Challenging Tertullian.
In case you missed it, and I’m not sure how you could have, yesterday was the Super Bowl. Every year the Super Bowl is a lot of things: championship football game, excuse to throw a big party, must-see commercial watching, a great time to shop in normally busy stores, etc.
Unfortunately, the Super Bowl also represents an annual crescendo in our culture’s habitual exploitation of women.
The folks behind the A21 Campaign are dedicated to abolishing sex trafficking and human slavery in the 21st century, and according to their website, the Super Bowl is “the single largest human trafficking incident in the United States.” Indeed, according to this Christian Post article, the 2010 Super Bowl saw an estimated 10,000 sex workers brought into Miami ahead of Super Bowl XLIV.
Sadly, in this the Super Bowl is not alone. I recently saw this report that describes how prostitutes in Brazil are taking English classes ahead of the 2014 soccer World Cup, in order to be able to service the clientele arriving for the tournament.
Clearly, we have a problem when the world’s greatest sporting events are linked with the exploitation of women though prostitution and sex trafficking.
But it’s not just prostitution that makes the Super Bowl so tragic in this regard. It’s also those famous commercials. You know, the ones where the women dress in skimpy frocks to essentially serve as the object of male desire. Yesterday, the people behind the Miss Representation film encouraged twitter users to call out sexism in the media by slapping the twitter hashtag #notbuyingit on on Super Bowl ads that they found to be offensive.
Whether it’s through pornography, prostitution or the more subtle influence of advertising, the objectification of women is endemic in our culture, and it’s a key way that male privilege is propagated. Heck, while I’m at it, how these ads depict men isn’t so great either!
In John 8, Jesus faced a situation where a woman was being exploited. And I mean really exploited. The kind of exploitation that involves having her sexual sin publicly exposed in order to serve as a pawn in someone’s personal vendetta. Here’s the story:
2 At dawn he appeared again in the temple courts, where all the people gathered around him, and he sat down to teach them. 3 The teachers of the law and the Pharisees brought in a woman caught in adultery. They made her stand before the group 4 and said to Jesus, “Teacher, this woman was caught in the act of adultery. 5 In the Law Moses commanded us to stone such women. Now what do you say?” 6 They were using this question as a trap, in order to have a basis for accusing him.
But Jesus bent down and started to write on the ground with his finger.7 When they kept on questioning him, he straightened up and said to them, “Let any one of you who is without sin be the first to throw a stone at her.”8 Again he stooped down and wrote on the ground.
9 At this, those who heard began to go away one at a time, the older ones first, until only Jesus was left, with the woman still standing there. 10 Jesus straightened up and asked her, “Woman,where are they? Has no one condemned you?”
11 “No one, sir,” she said.
“Then neither do I condemn you,” Jesus declared. “Go now and leave your life of sin.”
Don’t you just love how Jesus turns this situation on its head?
The accusers become indicted. The accused becomes pardoned. The objectified becomes free.
It’s beautiful, isn’t it? When we talk about how Jesus treated women in his day, we have to talk about how he respected them, how he resisted allowing them to become objects, and how he defended their honor and removed their shame.
May it be so with us.
What about you? What did you think about the Super Bowl commercials?