Sheptock, Rudy

Pastor Rudy Sheptock.

In October 2017, in the wake of the Harvey Weinstein allegations which accused him of using his position of power within show business to gain sexual favors from women working for him, the female population from all over the world have been coming forward about their own horrible experiences of very real sexual harassment.

The rallying cry on social media which brought these ladies together so that they could hear and share their stories was the use of a hashtag and the phrase 'MeToo.'

No arena of human existence has been spared the pain and the shame of this flat-out bad behavior. Even the church hasn’t escaped and unfortunately, has been guilty of embarrassing leadership activity which strays from staying in line with what Jesus would do or had done with the women in His ministry.

Whenever there is a problem on Earth, humans like to play the blame game. Many men say women ask for it by the provocative way they dress and the sexual signals they send.

Women shout back if men’s minds weren’t constantly in the gutter all the time, they wouldn’t have so many of these uninvited interludes. Who is wrong and who is right? Where can the fault line which longs to cause the quake of the ages in the battle of the sexes truly be found?

Recently, at The Lighthouse Church, we had a guest speaker who touched ever so briefly on the #MeToo issue which, because of the brevity of seconds he allowed for the illustration, I concluded he might have raised more questions than answered them.

Everyone needs to remember when you are sharing a message, the very moment you open your mouth, you risk being misunderstood, misquoted and mismanaged. I am not afraid of communicating on such topics.

I just want to make sure I have allotted the necessary amount of time to dot the i’s and cross the t’s. I don’t believe this occurred within our worship service, and so I promised I would address it with this column. 

Men never have a reason to mistreat women. It doesn’t matter how well masculinity might be able to rationalize any given situation, under no circumstance does man get a free pass in using a woman rather than treating her with the utmost respect.

As a husband of an amazing woman for 37 years, a father of four living children, two of them being beautiful adult daughters, a grandfather to four children, two of them being wonderful little gals, you can best be sure I believe God put inside of me a desire to do whatever is in my power to love them, honor them and protect them in a healthy way which only inspires their growth to become the individuals the Lord is calling them to be.

This is not about which sex is stronger. This is about fulfilling the responsibilities God has given to men and women.

There is never a time that exploitation and abusive actions are tolerated as acceptable behavior. Women should feel loved and safe with the men around them and vice versa.

In the Bible, when the religious men brought the woman caught in adultery to Jesus, they felt justified in their unrighteous behavior. I can’t wait to get to Heaven when we can finally learn this dear woman’s name.

No longer will she have to wear such a hideous label. The moment Jesus took over that experience, this woman no longer had to fear for her life.

She knew for the first time in forever, she would be safe and be given a second chance. If there ever was a surefire example of not only how to treat women but all people, it’s Jesus.

The moment we stop treating each other as God-created masterpieces made in His image, that is the moment everything begins to fall apart and not come together.

Christians aren’t exempt from the #MeToo epidemic. Growing up, I was physically abused by someone who used God as the reason to beat the living daylights out of me. The sad part was, I confessed my mistake long ago, but this individual thought there was plenty of shame to keep on heaping on.

It is a miracle I am a Christian today, but that is because Jesus is not always well represented by those who wear His name.

Men need to be responsible for every word which proceeds out of their mouths and every action which degrades someone else. Women also need to know they are beautiful just as they are.

I have told my wife, daughters and granddaughters they will always be amazing to me. It has nothing to do with size, color, ability or any other external trait.

Just as God loves us because we belong to Him, so we need to love one another in the same way.

I know pornography runs rampant within our society and is more accessible than ever before, but that doesn’t make it right. It doesn’t permit us to use sex as a way to satisfy our desires.

Read the Song of Solomon. God is the author of sex but at its best, it is always an expression of giving and not taking what doesn’t belong to you.

There are so many of us who have been burned in the name of love but that doesn’t mean God is done with us. We need to not be part of the problem but someone who is singing the song of an eternal solution.

If you have been abused, misused and put in a state where you have been threatened to remain silent, I pray God will use this column to give you the courage to cry, “Help.” Yes, there are many hypocrites in the church but that doesn’t mean Jesus is one.

There are many good men and women who can be trusted and will take good care of you. What I love about my Jesus is that I have always felt safe within the grasp of His nail-scarred hands.

Nobody put up with more hatred than Jesus. Nobody responded with more love than Jesus.

What both men and women need now more than ever before are truth and grace, and both are found in ample supply in the Lord.

ED. NOTE: The author is the senior pastor of The Lighthouse Church, 1248 Route 9 South, Court House.