Love to the Alabama girls who are 14, but could pass for 20 and a prayer for those who dismiss them.
I just can’t take it anymore. On several occasions over the past few months, I’ve asked my husband, “is this really happening?”
It seems that we have found ourselves, much like the cast of Stranger Things, threatened by the Upside-Down world.
I don’t know how else to describe it, and I’m sure I’m not alone. The definitions of good and bad are shifting before our very eyes, and never before has it been so obvious that absolute power corrupts absolutely.
I have pondered on how I could possibly affect change, how I could productively add my voice to the multitudes that are already screaming so loud that no one can hear. And shamefully, many times I have chosen to simply look away for a bit, to let someone else handle it because the problems seem too much to bear and I needed just a short reprieve.
But I keep coming back because sometimes, you need to speak up. Sometimes you just have to say something, anything to try and start a conversation that might heal.
I’m angry about things. I am. But I know that the world has plenty of anger right now. And anger isn’t solving anything. So, I choose to talk person to person, to lower my voice and elevate the conversation.
Below is an email I wrote to Pastor Earl Wise on November 22, 2017. I read an article about the Alabama election in the Boston Globe titled, Why evangelicals are again backing a Republican despite allegations of sexual misconduct by Astead W. Herndon.
Pastor Wise is quoted in the article and his words caused such an eruption of emotion in me, I had to write to him. I was not writing to talk about votes or partisanship, although I certainly have my opinions on that. Rather, I was writing because as a pastor, he is a representative of God, and those young girls he so unartfully spoke of are God’s children too.
I tracked down his contact information, sent an initial email to confirm it was him, to which he responded, “They have taken what they wanted and made a narrative to suit themselves. I still believe that a person is innocent until proven guilty, and there are many things about this scenario that are so very questionable.”
I sent my message and then waited for a response, feeling I had communicated in a respectful way that warranted some sort of acknowledgment. I waited until today, but no response.
So, I’ve decided to share it with you, my readers. We can’t stop talking to each other, even when the other person does not or cannot respond. We can’t be afraid to speak our truth, and we must be respectful of the fact that our truth may not be the same as someone else’s. And that’s not easy.
But if this is going to get better, we’re going to have to listen and try to understand people’s experiences and motivations behind their beliefs. Even if those beliefs make us sick.
Person to person, we can figure this out. Pastor Wise, I’m still praying for you and for anyone else who may be using their position in a way that alienates ANY of God’s family.
And finally, I am reaching out to all those girls who find themselves in a situation they are too young to navigate, who feel like they have no voice or nowhere to turn. You are not alone. I and millions of women like me are here.
And, no matter what the politics dictate tomorrow or months or years from now…. God loves you.
Dear Pastor Wise,
I wanted to write to you after reading your comments in the Boston Globe about the accusations made against Roy Moore. I reach out to you in the hopes of providing feedback that does not start an argument, but rather promotes reflection.
I prayed about reaching out to you before I did, wanting to only put things out that promote love and unity. You see, I’ve been trying to put that good out into the world since my son died in 2009. It was at that time I truly connected with God, forming a relationship that continues to guide me in thought and deed to this day. I was raised as a Catholic, but it wasn’t until I lost my child, that I opened my heart to the love only God can give and allowed that love to guide me through the darkness.
Specifically, I wanted to respond to this quote:
I don’t know how much these women are getting paid, but I can only believe they’re getting a healthy sum,” pastor Earl Wise told the Boston Globe. “How these gals came up with this, I don’t know. They must have had some sweet dreams somewhere down the line.”
“Plus,” Wise added, “there are some 14-year-olds, who, the way they look, could pass for 20.”
Pastor Wise, a 14-year-old girl is a child. I was a 14-year-old child who developed early, I was one of the first girls in my class to wear a bra, and remember the comments I endured, as well as the tears I shed in the girl’s bathroom at my elementary school. I was a child who was noticed by older males much earlier than I was emotionally mature enough to navigate. As the hashtag goes, #MeToo.
From a growth and development perspective, my body may have looked to be close to adulthood, but my brain was far from mature. Did you know that emerging science about brain development suggests that most people don’t reach full maturity until age 25? So, as much as I may have looked the part, I was not ready to assume the responsibilities or navigate the complex decisions that an adult does independently.
The government did not think I was mature enough to vote in an election or operate a motor vehicle. I was still a child.
So, given my history, your words impacted me and brought up feelings that I had suppressed for many years. I was one of those girls who looked older than my chronological age, but I was still a child. And as a child, relied on the good and moral judgment of adults to care for me as I grew into adulthood.
You indicated that you believe that people should be presumed innocent until proven guilty and I agree with that. So, if that is the case with Mr. Moore, the same courtesy should be offered to the women who have come forward. Your words not only vilify the children of whom you speak, they just do not align with the vocation you have chosen for your life’s work.
Pastor Wise, I’ve addressed you in my correspondence with your professional title to both remind myself and you that your position is as a representative of God.
And if there is one thing that I know to be true, it is this. God’s love is unchanging. The winds of change can sway the agendas of political parties and governments, but God is the keel that steadies us through life’s journey.
James 1:17 says, with Him “there is no variation or shadow due to change.”
I believe that to be true. So, no matter the season, the political fight of the day, the losses we endure in our lives, the mistakes we make, God is there. In a world filled with uncertainty and turmoil, it is a constant we can rely on.
God has been the same since the beginning. And that means God’s love is the same unchanging constant no matter who is in the White House or who holds power in the Senate. And if that is true, then the message that comes from God’s representative should be unchanging as well, and not be modified because of political agenda or partisanship. The message that you as a pastor have been entrusted to share is so much bigger than any election.
I know you know this, which is why I was saddened to see you use your platform as a representative of God to spread a message that is not at all aligned with God’s unchanging message of love. Is this truly part of the promise you made to God?
When I was a confused young teen, my faith played a huge part in shaping my life and navigating the hardships that we all face. And that’s why I wanted to write to you. If a 14-year-old young girl in your church found herself being pursued by an adult male and came to you for counsel, how would you respond? I want to believe that you would do the right thing. I do. But my concern is, perhaps that girl will not reach out to you now. Perhaps she read your comments and no longer sees you as the representative she could turn to in times of trouble. Perhaps she thinks that she can’t seek counsel because she could “pass for 20” so she shouldn’t really complain.
In your earlier response, you said: “They have taken what they wanted and made a narrative to suit themselves.” I have to say, I look around this world and I see so much of that these days. People interpret politics, behavior, religion in a way that suits their agenda, and they run with it. And with that interpretation, they separate themselves from their neighbors, life becomes about us and them, and nothing gets solved. We lose sight of what truly matters. That’s why I wanted to write to you.
God’s loving message is sacred. It is unchanging. And because of that, we must protect it from being used to feed a narrative or agenda. Our faith must be the constant that every person can turn to in good times and bad.
Again, I want to thank you for allowing me to share my thoughts. It is my hope that we can be two people who, through respectful dialogue, can play a part in healing our country. I have prayed for you, and I will continue to do so.
I am sending you and your family warm wishes for a blessed Thanksgiving surrounded by the people you love.