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“To be loved but not known is comforting but superficial. To be known and not loved is our greatest fear. But to be fully known and truly loved is, well, a lot like being loved by God. It is what we need more than anything.”

― Timothy Keller, The Meaning of Marriage

 

“I didn’t tell anyone, and you’re telling all women that they don’t matter, that they should just stay quiet because if they tell you what happened to them, you’re going to ignore them. That’s what happened to me, and that’s what you’re telling all women in America, that they don’t matter. They should just keep it to themselves because if they have told the truth, they’re just going to help that man to power anyway. That’s what you’re telling us all of these women. That’s what you’re telling me right now. Look at me when I’m talking to you. You`re telling me that my assault doesn’t matter.”

–Maria Gallagher, age 23

 

I’m writing this blogpost before any FBI reports have been read on the Senate floor. Before any confirmation votes. I don’t know what will happen today.

Truthfully, though, I fear the worst.

For me, the worst is not actually that we don’t #believewomen.

My fear is that we don’t actually care. Worse than not being believed is the fear that your truth, your story, your trauma, your life will be seen, believed — and it will not matter.

My fear is that these senators, and this president, and these laughing crowds, all actually do believe Dr. Ford. They just don’t care. His attempted rape, her trauma — it just doesn’t matter. It doesn’t matter as much as tipping the court. It doesn’t matter as much as the trajectory of a Yale-grad’s career. It doesn’t matter as much as the voter backlash in November. It doesn’t matter as much as the inconvenience of delaying the process. Her story, her truth, her life — it just doesn’t matter.

Our deepest need, from the time we are children, is not just to be told we are loved. It is to be known and loved. We need to be loved for who we really are — in our complexity, our mistakes, our uniqueness, our unloveliness. And Keller is right — this is a way to describe the power of the gospel. A humanity that was not loved from a distance, but close up. A humanity that was not loved in theory, but on the cross. A woman at a well who was not ignored, but whose story was fully known. This is love. This is good news.

I’d like it if the church found its calling beyond just believing women. (Certainly, we must start there. And we have work to do.) But what I believe would actually reflect the power of the gospel that has transformed our lives is more than just seeing, more than just believing. It’s valuing. I’d like it if the stories, the truth-telling, the pain, the lives of women mattered enough to the church to disrupt the status quo. I’d like our lives to matter. My fear is that the Kavanaugh saga will confirm again what has been true for too long, what that people of color, immigrants, those who are poor, women have been testifying to the senate and the sanctuary alike: In the eyes of the ones holding the power, some lives don’t matter.

I hope I’m wrong.

 

Photo by Arthur Ogleznev on Unsplash

 

Kate Kooyman

Kate is a minister of the Reformed Church in America who serves in the Christian Reformed Church Office of Social Justice in Grand Rapids, Michigan.

17 Comments

  • Nate DeWard says:

    Thank you, Kate

  • Marge Vander Wagen says:

    Thank you for your insightful message. I volunteer with female jail inmates who feel “worthless, valueless.” They were taken advantage of by someone, either physically or mentally, and are paying the price. Your piece encourages me to keep telling them that they matter to God. He values them, forgives and desires to give them power to overcome their addictions and sadness. I needed to hear this.

  • Grace Shearer says:

    Thanks, Kate. I’m glad I read this before the FBI information is leaked and the vote is cast. I appreciate your inclusion of so many who feel unloved.

  • Karen S. says:

    Yes! Thank you Kate.

  • Marty Wondaal says:

    Rev. Kooyman,

    I love you. I also love Dr. Ford, Deborah Ramirez, Julie Swetnick, and all the Democrats on the Senate Judiciary Committee. As Image-bearers, of course.

    But I also know you. By your writings, evidence, lack of evidence, associations, and strident leftist worldview. And, therefore, I don’t believe or agree with you.

    In your case, you seem to support a recent Calvin Sexual Assault Prevention Team report that claims 52% of females are sexually assaulted while at Calvin. I don’t believe that is accurate.

    In Dr. Ford’s case, she simply lacks evidence, seems to be politically motivated, and her testimony has inconsistencies.

    The Judiciary Committee Democrats, however, take it to another level. The lengths they are willing to go to appease Moloch seem to be boundless.

    So, you are known, and still loved.

    In each of the above cases, albeit to varying extents, it seems as if truth is subservient to a political outcome. And the tragedy is that then the real victims aren’t taken seriously and the politics of the day prevent solutions.

    This whole Supreme Court episode has me wondering: what will happen when Amy Coney Barrett is nominated to possibly replace the notorious RBG?

    • Joseph Kuilema says:

      I worked with Kate for several years. You don’t know her. You shouldn’t claim that you do. From my perspective, the fact that you think you do is exactly the problem she’s discussing here.

    • Emily Helder says:

      Like Joe, I also know and love Kate, in real life and for what she writes here. Your response suggests to me you do not know her and don’t appear particularly interested in knowing her or hearing her point of view. Your response is condescending and dismissive.

      • Marty Wondaal says:

        You are right that I do not know Rev. Kooyman personally (I never made that claim). You are wrong to suggest that I am not interested in her point of view.

        I do not intend to be condescending or dismissive. I do try to be brief.

  • Sharon A Etheridge says:

    Thanks, Kate. This is important to know and think about. The big question will be is how do we all work toward this goal of really knowing and loving each other.

  • Tom Eggebeen says:

    Women don’t count – that’s been the ugly reality of most of Christianity and Western Culture. Dr. Ford’s testimony is suspect from the get-go simply because she’s a woman. And, as one commentator here says, “her testimony is without evidence.” Ah, yes, what an easy, convenient, device for discounting a woman. Anyway, you’re piece is of great value. Sadly, you’re all too right – believing in someone’s testimony, if she’s a woman, is not the issue (they likely believe her), but accepting it as the correct narrative, and then acting upon it accordingly. You’re tragically right: there’s an agenda at work in the GOP that cares nothing about truth, but only about furthering its own interests, the center of which is the drive to undo Roe v. Wade – nothing else counts. Justice is simply not a part of the deal for the GOP.

    • Marty Wondaal says:

      Tom,

      1. Other than honeybees, what culture has done more to elevate the status and inherent dignity of women than Christianity and Western Culture?

      2. Your accusation that my opinions are influenced by her gender is without merit, and kind of bigoted.

      3. If you’re going to quote me, please do so accurately.

      4. Roe v. Wade should be abandoned and given to each state to decide. It is not a Constitutional issue. And killing babies is usually bad.

  • David Pettit says:

    An important assessment of our current societal and political situation. But an important message to the church and our pattern of clinging to doctrine. Are we willing to listen, value, and disrupt our calcified ways of seeing, relating, and thinking?

    Thanks! Keep speaking!

  • George E says:

    Kate is right, in principle. Not so much about Kavanaugh, since his accusers were listened to and debunked. As Rolling Stone learned the hard way, not every woman’s accusation is correct.

    But Kavanaugh is not the only man to have been accused of sexual assault. The most notorious in recent history is Bill Clinton. Several women told credible and substantiated stories, yet Clinton’s supporters seemed never to waver. When Hillary Clinton ran for office, despite her active suppression of those women, she still had millions who didn’t care enough to insist on her disqualification.

    Now we’re seeing somethings similar in Minnesota and New Hampshire.

    The question is: what’s more important to these supporters? Power or people? Sure doesn’t seem to be Christian virtue.

    • Monica says:

      Ford’s allegations weren’t debunked. In fact, an Atlantic article from long term GOP supporter of Kavanaugh acknowledges her testimony was more supported by the evidence than Kavaughs. They haven’t yet been proven, but that’s very different from debunked.

  • Fred Mueller says:

    Thank you for this, Kate. At least let’s hope this is a teachable moment that will avert some potential abusers from hurting women and lead boys and men to reflect on their own attitudes towards women. Lives matter and the weakest and most vulnerable suffer the most.

  • Christina Rea says:

    Thanks, Kate! I so much appreciate your perspective, and your courage to tell it like it is. Please, keep it up.

  • Kirk Vanhouten says:

    I will not hold my breath for Kate to stand up for Karen Monahan. The urgency of #believewomen in the pantheon of partisan politics depends almost entirely on which party one supports.

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