DEFINING SEXUAL ASSAULT
I’ll start by doing something that I think is important, and that is defining sexual assault. It comes from this book, Rid of My Disgrace by Justin and Lindsey Holcomb. He’s a pastor here at Mars Hill and runs Resurgence for us. His wife, Lindsey, is also a leader in the church. She’s a deacon, and she was a rape crisis clinic case manager, and he taught women’s studies at the University of Virginia and is a specialist in sexual assault and domestic violence. Grace and I actually asked them to write this book, because we wanted to have, from our church, a good Bible-based, Jesus-focused resource to help people who have been sexually assaulted. And we love that book, and, you know, endorsed it, and all of that, and are really honored that that comes from Mars Hill Church.
Their definition is, “Any type of sexual behavior or contact where consent is not freely given or obtained and is accomplished through force, intimidation, violence, coercion, manipulation, threat—” hold it right there, guys— “deception, or abuse of authority.” So, that’s what we’re talking about.
It’s very important, because it used to be that the word “rape” was used a lot, and it still is, but this is a larger, legal, clinical definition, and it’s important that as you look at your life, or your spouse, or people you know and love, that you understand what has happened and have the right language. We don’t want to falsely accuse anyone; at the same time, we don’t want to falsely excuse anyone.
And it manifests itself in three ways: “The ‘acts’ can be physical, verbal, or psychological.” In the age of bullying and the Internet, in the age of certain inappropriate speech and conduct, it just, it can be physical contact that connotes sexual assault, but it doesn’t necessarily have to be. It also can be verbal and/or psychological.
Excerpt from Disgrace and Grace… A sermon transcript from Mars Hill Church.