Anger, tears, advocacy for change - speaking out on consent and parliamentary scandals

Voices from the Christian landscape.

Here is a round-up of some of the Christian commentary on the scandals about male treatment of women. It is not comprehensive; how could it be?

Letitia Shelton

Founder of City Women and City Free from Porn

[The] March 4 Justice saw one of the biggest uprisings of women in our nation. They estimate almost 100,000 women marched in over 40 cities/towns in Australia, calling for investigations into all cases of gendered violence, a full implementation of the 55 recommendations in the Australian Human Rights Commission’s Respect@Work report, & greater funding into gender violence prevention.

What preceded this march and what has followed this march is a CRY. A cry from hundreds and thousands of Australian women and girls; they have had enough and haven’t we all?? It’s an uncomfortable cry and a disruptive cry. No one enjoys listening to Brittany Higgins talk about being raped in Parliament House. While we honour Australian of the year Grace Tame, listening to her recount years of being groomed and abused by a teacher makes our blood boil. The cry that is coming from the … stories shared here, mostly by young women, is heartbreaking. In this week’s Sunday Mail, prominent Queensland women shared their vulnerable stories. How did we get to this place?

In the Bible, the book of Lamentations sounds the cry of a people who had been destroyed and oppressed. It’s not easy to read either. But God makes way for the cry of His people. We hear it also in Exodus, a cry from a people enslaved. God never covers up the voice of the oppressed (that’s usually a human response), but he allows it to rise. I hope we don’t look at what is currently being shouted out over our nation as another “issue” that will just come and go. But may we have ears to hear the cry and respond.

Letitia Shelton points to this article, by

Melinda Tankard Reist 

Movement Director, Collective Shout

I have a colleague who is a research scientist at Oxford University. He uses the pseudonym “James Evans” and has written profoundly about the need to “de-radicalise boys” by breaking the hold porn has over them. He describes how, through years of porn consumption, he “stopped seeing women as human beings”. Immersion in dehumanising online subcultures resulted in “a radicalisation behind laptop screens and smartphones that preaches the objectification, dehumanisation, and hatred of women and normalises sexual harassment, rape, and child abuse”. Evans said he needed to rebuild his sense of morality in order to “return to thinking that abuse is wrong and should be condemned and stopped, not something you masturbate to. I had to re-learn empathy. I had to start seeing women as human beings again and not just living sex dolls.”

Consent is important, but it is not women’s salvation.

“Porn is every toxic male power fantasy, polished, scripted and in high definition,” Evans warns. “We’re looking at a future of far more widespread abuse against women and girls if we don’t de-radicalise men now.”

“Consent education” cannot compete with this mega-industry.

Consent is important, but it is not women’s salvation. I fear we may start thinking of “consent” as a magic bullet to get us out of this mess. How can we hope to convince boys that “girls aren’t sexual objects, so don’t treat them like pieces of meat”, when this global industry profits from indoctrinating them to see women as precisely that — just meat for their own enjoyment?

Read the full article.

Brad Chilcott

Executive Director, White Ribbon Australia

It’s not enough to know it’s happening

It’s not enough to know it’s bad

It’s not enough to hope someone does something about it

It will take all of us, all men, to change the culture that allows disrespect, harassment, violence and abuse to thrive.

Julia A’Bell

Julia A’bell is a former pastor and an Australian Christian leader. This was posted to Instagram [on the day of the March 4 Justice]:

I believe that today marked “a line in the sand’ for all Australian women.

I also believe the Church should be leading the way in all these discussions and leading the way in practical demonstration.

Gender equity is all about equal opportunity. And a great place to start is to ask the question: “do women have the same opportunities as the men?”

“Are women seen and heard from as much as the men?”

“Is there any systemic thinking against women that needs to change now?”

And this is only the start.

Please, for the sake of the generations to come.

Martyn Iles

Martin Iles is Managing Director of the Australian Christian Lobby

Memo to the mob: The Prime Minister is not guilty.

Yes, it’s true. The little city that is the Parliamentary complex – “the Hill” – is a cesspool. Those of us who have had connections with the place have long known it.

We know about the ‘Prayer Room’. We know why Canberra is a city of brothels. We know which politicians have ‘reputations’. We know about drunken staffer antics at various inner south establishments.

Memo to the mob: the PM is not guilty. But that is not how woke guilt works. It imputes guilt by tribe, not by individual.

I’ve had several aspiring young political staffers ask me for advice in recent years. I always warn them.

But here is the mystery of this iniquity – by being ‘exposed’, it is only being added to.

Scott Morrison, a family man who so obviously puts his wife and daughters at the centre of his life, who probably idles in the parliamentary complex less than anyone, is somehow the symbol of all this, and the media’s punching bag.

Again – memo to the mob: he is not guilty. But that is not how woke guilt works. It imputes guilt by tribe, not by individual.

Read the full comment.

Deidre Palmer

President, Uniting Church in Australia

The exceptional turnout at the March 4 Justice events show there is deep desire in Australia to see meaningful change and justice for women who have experienced violence.

I am grateful for all those women who have had the courage to speak out about their experiences and for the passion for justice among those who took the time to march.

We support all those calling for justice. Enough is enough.

As the Uniting Church, and as followers of Jesus, we are called to name gender-based violence as a sin against God and a breach of the love, trust and care that Christ embodies and calls us to model.

All women should experience safety, respect and dignity and the fullness of life that God intends for us all.

We support all those calling for justice. Enough is enough.

Kylie Beach

Writer, Eternity News

… Australian women are, as the iconic John Farnham sang so eloquently, “all someone’s daughter”. And we all want a country where all women are safe.

But while we live in a country where the alleged rape of a parliamentary staffer by another parliamentary staffer is only confronted one year later because the media has a hold of it … well, we are a long way from Australian being a country where our women are safe.

While we have a Prime Minister who, when the country’s Attorney General is accused of rape and the alleged victim’s suicide means there is not enough evidence for the police to pursue a criminal case, chooses not to use the possible options for an investigation that are available, we are a long way from Australian being a country where our women are safe.

While thousands of schoolgirls have experienced rape and sexual assault by their male peers, and tomorrow’s male politicians are the parliamentary staffers of today who are jerking off on female MPs’ desks, we are so, so far from being a country where our women are safe that it’s hard to even imagine one.

But a jury found one guy guilty of sexual assault last week. And thousands of women rallied across the country the week before to say they want it to be better for all women.

So, today, I’m sticking with my daughter, clinging to the glimmer of hope of that “one day” there’s a possibility Australian might be a country where our women are safe.

Read the full article.

Greg Sheridan

Foreign Editor, The Australian

The problem with sexual assault lies with men. They are the perpetrators. But all of this — men and women — exist within a culture. And what’s happening to the culture affects what happens to the human beings within the culture.

The progressive orthodoxy, that we used to be overwhelmingly sexist and we’ve made great progress but we’ve still got a long way to go, is only about a quarter right. On some things we have made progress. On some things we’ve gone backwards …

… but Christian ideals nonetheless have a lot to offer the culture in this moment of truth-telling and contradiction

We are on the brink of becoming a majority atheist nation. The loss of religious belief in society affects the way we see human beings, men and women. It goes without saying that Christians frequently do not remotely live up to their ideals, but Christian ideals nonetheless have a lot to offer the culture in this moment of truth-telling and contradiction …

Elements of popular culture today work to degrade women, and men as well. This is beyond politics.

…  John Dickson, the historian and popular Christian author, and presenter of Australia’s No 1 religious podcast, Undeceptions, offers this striking observation: “I’m convinced that in 50 years time, presuming we haven’t all gone back to barbarism, we will look back on this period of pornographication, of objectifying people and degrading them, as a justice issue, a human rights issue.”