Sometimes I get caught up in the fight for justice. It seems like there’s always a story about someone who’s abused, oppressed, or used for selfish gain. I spend a lot of time watching the headlines for a tidbit about a court case or another #metoo story.
Larry Nassar’s criminal sentencing hearings have been gold. Just yesterday, I watched a video of a distraught father try to assault the defendant right in front of the judge.
Is it bad that I enjoyed it a little too much?
It took five people to take the man (identified as Randall Mangraves) down, including three deputies.
But my heart broke a little as I heard the gasps and sobs outside of camera range—gasps I assume came from his three daughters, all victimized by Nassar. I can’t imagine what they were feeling as they watched their father tackled, handcuffed, and dragged out of the courtroom.
Meanwhile, Mangraves kept shouting, “One minute! I just need one minute with that [expletive]!”
One deputy kept saying, “I understand, but stop.”
I think we all understand. The enormity of the problem of sexual assault and abuse is overwhelming sometimes. When I think about how widespread it is—Hollywood, churches, colleges, and now sports—I get a little frustrated. Speaking out against it is a little like Mangraves attempting to beat the tar out of a man in a room full of law enforcement officers and a judge.
Is Nassar’s case so sensational because we’re used to perpetrators getting a slap on the wrist?
Because victims get to speak up instead of being silenced and shamed?
Because a formerly taboo topic is in the news?
My prayer is that the public discourse helps educate people about what rape is. I assumed everyone knew, but it’s obvious that our definitions get a little skewed. (That’s how Nassar manipulated coaches, school officials, parents, and even his lawyer into believing he had done nothing wrong.)
It’s not that I’m glad of the media circus surrounding Nassar’s case. (We are entertained by such gross and twisted things, aren’t we?) But there is a silver lining: our society loves a sensational story.
Because of our morbid curiosity, the world got to hear Rachel Denhollander’s heart-wrenching but redemptive impact statement.
It was hard to listen to. I sat next to my husband alternately clutching his hand and scooting away so as not to be touched. Somehow, she was able to couch a horrid experience with the redeeming power of the gospel. Her words empowered us to stand firm in our sense of injustice when society would minimize the damage. Her faith, despite losing her church and her friends for standing up against sin gives us hope that, though we’ll live with our wounds the rest of our lives, God is the ultimate healer and judge.
I love the advice Fred Rogers passed on from his mother: “‘Always look for the helpers,’ she’d tell me. ‘There’s always someone who is trying to help.’”
Rachel is one of those helpers. She wasn’t seeking media attention, but she was granted an audience to share the amazing healing and courage God had given her. May God bless her a thousand times over for her sacrifice.
John Stonestreet is another helper. (I love his podcast about costly grace.) I say this because I’ve been super critical of Christian leaders in past posts, so I wanted to highlight one who is actually doing the right thing. Have you heard of others? Feel free to link to them in the comment section.
During the media blitz and after, it’s important to look for the helpers. And even more importantly, to be a helper, as soon as we’re able.
And most of all, to remember the ultimate Helper, the one who will right all wrongs and redeem every painful thing that happens to us.