I don’t know what to do today.
Minutes ago, a Manhattan jury delivered a guilty verdict in The People vs. Harvey Weinstein. Mr. Weinstein was found guilty of criminal sexual act in the first degree and rape in the third degree. Six women testified that he sexually assaulted them. However, he was found not guilty of the most serious crime, predatory sexual assault, of which there were two counts.
The jury deliberated for over a week, and some of the following questions were up for discussion. Whether or not the women who came forward consented to sex. Whether or not the women who came forward “earnestly resisted” during Weinstein’s attempted assaults. Whether or not the women who came forward reported Weinstein’s sexual abuse in a timely manner.
My heart races and my fingers tremble on the keyboard because I write about body image for young women. At 6:15 AM this morning, I sent out my daily post on IG and posited the question, “What if the chief purpose of your God-gifted body is to welcome God’s people into His life-changing presence?”
I’m working from the unifying and bold encouragement that Paul pens as he draws near the end of his letter to the Romans. In Romans 15:7, Paul says, “Therefore, welcome one another as Christ has welcomed you, for the glory of God.” Here, Paul communicates two beautiful truths.
First, Paul portrays Jesus as the welcoming Christ. The one who is all and loves all and died for all of our sins.
Second, Paul provides the Romans with a compelling reason to accept, to receive, and to serve those in their midst. Paul admonishes Roman believers to welcome others in an effort to glorify God.
But my stomach is churning because I’m reading about The People vs. Harry Weinstein, and I’m reflecting on my message.
Reconciling my own words is a challenge as I see what a single individual can get away with when he schemes like satan — the father of lies. For decades, Mr. Weinstein has been accused of lying, cheating, manipulating, and assaulting. Of raping numerous women.
And what is the story of most of these women? They welcomed him. He invited himself to their rooms, and they said, Sure. Come in. Of course we can have a meeting about my acting career. I’d love your feedback on that role that I auditioned for today. Any help you can give, I welcome it.
This role of welcoming, so many of us want to do it well. Even when we hear that someone has a negative rap sheet or a track record that looks dicey, many of us want to believe that people who say they want our good really want our good.
And as believers, we welcome hope, second chances, and new life.
As God’s precious sons and daughters, we are called to open up our doors and clear our table for two more seats at the dinner table. As his children, we are the hands and feet that feed those who are poor in body and in spirit.
But in the same breath that we choose to welcome and generously love those around us, we acknowledge a sad truth. Satan lurks. He longs to steal, kill, and destroy.
How we welcome like Jesus and what steps we take to attempt to protect ourselves from sexual assault is not an easy conversation to have in our homes. But the verdict this morning took me back to Bill Cosby and Larry Nassar, and I can’t help but think that, although the conversations may be difficult, they are necessary and worth having.
So, in the midst of not knowing what to do today, I think I’ll sit down with my kids tonight and ask them to help me answer the questions I have.
What does welcoming others look like to you? How do you know when to step back from someone when you’ve already welcomed them into your friend group, your sports team, your home? Will you please come to me if you have questions about anyone we have welcomed into our community?
Because as much as I want to welcome others who we don’t know well, my first priority is to welcome the truth from the people I’m actively discipling, whom God has entrusted to my care.