Powerful words by CBS NFL anchor James Brown. Not surprising coming from him, he appeared at our church for a Sunday special event, to be interviewed by our pastor. He clearly gets it. Language matters, culture matters and in many seemingly small but ultimately significant ways, both clearly have to change.
Part of the problem, is the evil is disguised by virtue of both it's small size ( Oh, what's the harm? ) and that it is seemingly innocuous at first. Words and language and attitudes, as they become part of the lexicon, spread like a virus. Phrases like "boys will be boys" become culturally accepted and embedded. When left unattended they can grow like a cancer and destroy. Wearing this disguise, they are allowed to manifest themselves and grow larger. Words and language and the effect on attitudes matter. Strangely enough, the idiom "boys will be boys" is based on the premise that it is expected that men will behave badly. Self-fulfilling prophecy coming back to bite us in the butt.
I included a blog post below from author Ann Voskamp which she posted after the Steubenville rape incident and I meant to post it then and didn't. Her words are perhaps even more powerful than those of Brown and her post bears reading in its entirety. By men more so than women, because it gets to the crux of what James was saying:
But wouldn’t it be productive if this collective outrage, as my colleagues have said, could be channelled to truly hear and address the long-suffering cries for help by so many women? And as they said, do something about it? Like an on-going education of men about what healthy, respectful manhood is all about.And men, if some of Ann's words and sentiments hit you in the face like a shovel, that's good. We've identified where the problem resides. Now for the the solution -- which Ann's post very capably provides BTW -- that many of the male commentators, and some females -- like Janay Rice, seem to struggle to find.
And I would say, if her words do not in some way shape or form touch your heart or cause you to think about self-evaluation or change, then that's not good. You may need help.
But you know what, we've been here before. And here we are again. Because ultimately it's not an NFL problem or an HS football jocks gone wild problem, it's a societal problem. Once again, opportunity is knocking. It's high time we answered the door.And I have never told anyone what happened next, but after Steubenville, to stay silent is to let perpetrators perpetuate. We were looked in the eye, Son, and what we were told, those words tried to shatter God — “Boys will be boys.” Son. When the prevailing thinking is boys will be boys — girls will be garbage. And that is never the heart of God.
To paraphrase the best of both James Brown and Ann Voskamp:
from aholyexperience.com and Ann Voskamp:
. And there’ll be a mother in Steubenville who will be shattered that her teen son’s behind bars and how in the world did that happen. We’re all getting a lot wrong.Like that night I was 19 and I saw it in my rear view mirror, how a 20-something man reached over and started fondling a terrified 14 year-old sleeping girl. How he shrugged his shoulders when we confronted him, like he was brushing away an annoying fly. How there were girls that whispered that he’d grabbed them too in the dark of a car when he drove them home from youth group, how there were all these shy and ashamed girls who were violated and forced and indifferently robbed.I want to tell you, son — we were all church kids. There was no alcohol. There were no parties. There were no football teams.There were young men who opened their Bibles and didn’t value the worth of a God-fashioned woman made for glory, young men who sang worship songs and satiated their lust by ripping off the dignity of a sacred human being, young men who said women were the weaker vessel meant let’s drink them dry and be merry.We went to the church elders.A handful of us girls with one teenage boy who knew what he saw and wasn’t afraid, we went to the elders and sat there with our hands literally shaking and our mouths impossibly dry and we tried to find words for what should never have to be said. My cheeks and throat burned.And I have never told anyone what happened next, but after Steubenville, to stay silent is to let perpetrators perpetuate.We were looked in the eye, Son, and what we were told, those words tried to shatter God —“Boys will be boys.”Son. When the prevailing thinking is boys will be boys — girls will be garbage.And that is never the heart of God.