We’re OUTRAGED. Now What?

Nicole Headshot in blue shirt

Nicole D. Hayes, Founder, Voices Against the Grain

Anger. Despair. Disgust. Egregious. Heartbroken. Horrific. Incomprehensible. These words describe some of the feelings and thoughts that have charged many of our written and verbal communications over this past week’s unjust sentencing decision rendered by  Santa Clara County Superior Court Judge Aaron Persky: a six-month sentence to county jail and probation for 20-year-old Brock Allen Turner, a former Stanford swimmer who while drunk, raped an unconscious 23-year-old woman behind a dumpster last January. Two Swedish men bicycling near the scene (heroes) saw what was happening and pursued Turner, getting him off of her. For this egregious act, prosecutors pushed for a six-year sentence for Turner but Judge Persky reduced his sentence to six months given that he had no previous criminal history and that “A prison sentence would have a severe impact on him,” according to Persky. What???

According to The Guardian and other news sources, the woman who during the sexual assault was unconscious from a blood-alcohol level three times the legal limit at the time of the rape and who had no memory of the attack, said at the trial:

“You took away my worth, my privacy, my energy, my time, my safety, my intimacy, my confidence, my own voice, until today,” she said, reportedly directly to Turner. “I am a human being who has been irreversibly hurt.” 

The woman also read aloud in the courtroom her 12-page authentically powerful, raw letter (her letter has been published with several media sites though we’ve chosen not to link to it as it may reopen wounds for others).

Mercury News

Former Stanford student-athlete Brock Turner plead not guilty Monday morning Feb. 2, 2015, in a Palo Alto, Calif., courtroom to charges related to an alleged rape on campus. Turner was represented by attorney Mike Armstrong. (Karl Mondon/Mercury News Staff)

Judge Aaron Persky

Santa Clara County Judge Aaron Persky has come under fire for his six-month lenient sentencing (instead of the prosecutor recommended six years) rendered against Brock Allen Turner, stating that “A prison sentence would leave a severe impact on him.” Photo courtesy NY Daily News.

In learning more about this case, you, me and the wider public have been outraged all week. In our anger and frustration about the violent act further impacted by a miscarriage of justice, we’ve expressed choice words about this situation. Even as a Christian whose mind has been renewed, unladylike words and thoughts entered my mind and were stopped short of leaving my lips by the Holy Spirit. I was outraged and I saw your messages of outrage and disbelief too.

What outrages us? 

We’re outraged by Turner’s choices and actions that inflicted unthinkable violence upon this woman. We’re outraged that the woman was asked all kind of irrelevant questions by Turner’s lawyer such as, “Are you serious with your boyfriend? Do you have a history of cheating? What were you wearing?” We’re outraged by Judge Persky’s unjust and too lenient sentencing because  a longer prison sentence would devastate Turner and his future. We’re outraged at Turner’s father writing a letter, concerned that his son was unable to eat his favorite meals because he’s so upset. What???

1 in 4. Statistics suggest that 1 in 4 college women will be raped, sexually assaulted or a victim of attempted rape in her lifetime (although we believe the numbers are higher). Forty-four percent of victims are under age 18. Eighty percent are under age 30. Every 107 seconds.

We’re outraged that in 2016, after all of the “Take Back the Night” and similar campaigns have been conducted, articles published, panel discussions held, myriad conversations, initiatives, events to educate and prevent, we’re STILL talking about sexual assault. This outrages us. We’re outraged, frustrated and heartbroken that in reading this, we know the devastation of such violence whether we’ve experienced it first hand or have comforted, listened to, cried with, ministered to or helped loved ones, friends, family members and others, in addressing it and healing from the brokenness of it.

We’re outraged. Now what? 

I ask this question as a frustrated human being over the wickedness that lies within mankind’s heart. I ask this question in understanding your anger and frustration too. Yet, the Holy Spirit challenged me to view this very differently and from a spiritual perspective.

In asking “why is this injustice (and frankly all injustices) still happening?,” here’s the rub: Frankly, we’re asking a lot of a world that is riddled with sin. We’re asking a lot of a world that is fallen, whose desires, hearts, thoughts and wills have not sought God. We’re asking a world to “get it together” as they’ve purposely chosen to fulfill carnal appetites and are spiritually bankrupt and spiritually-dispossessed. We’re asking a sinful world to “know better and do better” when they’ve divorced themselves from seeking, knowing and loving God and have no desire to love others, to be transformed in their hearts by Christ.

We’re asking a prideful and arrogant world to invite God/give God full access to all areas of their life so they may walk in His ways. People don’t want to embrace such obedience or “sacrifices” that will have God telling them “no.” And if they do invite God in, He’s only allowed to speak to them during a crisis. Otherwise, God should remain quiet and not interfere with how they desire to speak, behave, think, carry themselves, interact with, etc. (Isaiah 65:2)

While you and I may have surrendered all to Christ Jesus, others haven’t. You and I may be walking in Romans 12:1-2, but others have chosen not to: “Therefore, I urge you brothers in view of God’s mercy, to offer your bodies as living sacrifices, holy and pleasing to God—this is your spiritual act of worship. 2- Do not conform any longer to the pattern of this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind. Then you will be able to test and approve what God’s will is—his good, pleasing and perfect will. (New International Version)

God is a Holy God of love, mercy and justice. Because God created us, man and woman, in His image (Genesis 1:26-27), we also long for justice—it’s in our very makeup. Therefore, we become outraged when justice has not occurred. Yet, many want justice without inviting God into their lives. Oh yes—we want God to rectify injustices delivered by other people (sexual assaults, shootings, fraud, etc.), yet we won’t invite Him to work with us on the injustices we inflict upon others through our derogatory speech, ungodly thoughts and actions. We say, “God fix them but leave my stuff alone.” We’ve not surrendered to Romans 12:1-2.

clean heart

No doubt some acts are more egregious, horrific and more devastating than others. But as a Holy God, He views all sin equally. As the Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. said, “Injustice anywhere is a threat to justice everywhere.”

All offenses grieve God. Until we surrender unjust actions, thoughts, speech, behavior to Christ Jesus, we’ll continue to experience injustice in this world. Without Christ, we’re left to our own devices and it becomes a slippery slope. Without inviting the Holy Spirit into our hearts, it’s foolish thinking to consider ourselves “good.” As a dear sister in Christ says, “We underestimate our sin. We underestimate who we are.”

I’ve also asked His forgiveness in the unjust thoughts I had toward this incident. Will you give Him full access to transform you into Christ’s likeness, to help stop the further reproduction of more injustice?

Heavenly Father, I know you fully understand our anger, our outrage at the injustices carried out in this egregious situation. As Our Creator, you created us to also pursue justice. Heavenly Father, we pray for Your amazing love to heal the broken places in this young woman’s life and others affected by such actions. We pray that she and others would lay their anger, hurts, pain and shame at the foot of the Cross to receive true healing and freedom through Your Son Jesus Christ. We pray for Your justice to be rendered. We pray healing for victims and perpetrators. Lord, please raise up more principled and wise public servants who will administer true justice and exercise greater care over those they’ve been entrusted to serve.

Heavenly Father, you are a Holy God and view all sin equally. Forgive us for the injustices we’ve inflicted against You and others by our ungodly actions, thoughts and words. Lord, may we have an understanding for how all offenses grieve You.  Lord, may we obediently desire to surrender to you our unjust words, thoughts and actions to stem the further proliferation of injustices in this world.  May those operating in justice, in Light and Love as the Body of Christ continue to do so. Thank you and we love you. 

In Christ Jesus our Lord and Savior,

Nicole

Nicole D. Hayes is the founder of Voices Against the Grain, a bold teaching ministry launched in May 2013. Nicole’s purpose in creating Voices Against the Grain is to be light in darkness, to boldly instruct truth amid confusion so as to bring clarity and restoration.

Learn more about Nicole D. Hayes here.

 

 

 

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Is Your Living Inside/Out?

Nicole Headshot in blue shirt

Nicole D. Hayes, Founder, Voices Against the Grain

For those in relationship with Christ Jesus, the experience should extend beyond ourselves. It should impact those around us. In addition to The Great Commission, how are you transforming the culture around you through your Christian living?

According to the book How Now Shall We Live?, co-authored by Charles Colson and Nancy Pearcey, every decision we make either “expresses a false worldview and thus contributes to a disordered and broken world, or expresses God’s truth and helps build a world that reflects His created order.”

As Christ told His disciples and in essence us as Believers in Matthew 28:18-20, “All authority in heaven and on earth has been given to me. 19 Therefore go and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, 20 and teaching them to obey everything I have commanded you. And surely I am with you always, to the very end of the age.” (New International Version)

 

Romans 12 1-2 be transformed

As we are being transformed by the Holy Spirit indwelling in us, and in Christ calling Believers to The Great Commission, we should be impacting those around us—family members, friends, co-workers, strangers, etc., to help them discern between falsehood and truth; right and wrong, to bring clarity to confusion, to bring light, hope, joy and peace where darkness, discouragement and anxiousness reside. Now that we have been freed from the law of sin and death through our new life in Christ Jesus, we should be motivated to see others set free; to be restored to their original purposes, distorted by the veil of sin and death. The transformation we’ve experienced and continue to undergo is a gift that we’ve been blessed to receive and would be lost without.

The Holy Spirit as the Light, new life and living waters flowing in us can effectively restore and rebuild what is broken and has been stolen in a society/culture or family by the enemy. Though it is the Holy Spirit that transforms hearts, we’ve been invited to take part in that great work. As Colson and Pearcey write “transformed people transform cultures.”

Society has long been clamoring to have it their way. Now after having it their way (aka, alcoholism, drugs, sex outside of marriage, sex and pornography in movies, music, everywhere, abortion, various ideologies that advance one’s personal agendas), some now see how this full access to darkness has advanced the destruction and demoralization of our decaying society. Morass abounds and people want quick solutions. Those solutions are in essence a humbled, contrite, repentant heart turned to Christ Jesus. A heart and mind that recognizes they have exhausted all avenues of what they considered effective only to be emptier and more disheartened than before. Christ is humanity’s greatest hope and solution.

As the Body of Christ, when we truly yield to the Holy Spirit and allow Him full access and reign in every area of our lives, we’ll be in awe of the inside/out transformation that can occur in us and others. Salvation is an experience for us and others. As author and Pastor John Piper wrote, “Who wants a Jesus who is so nothing that all he can produce is a people who mouth religious platitudes but think, feel and act just like the world?”

At Voices Against the Grain, we have served as change agents of God’s Kingdom prior to and since our ministry launched in May 2013. We will continue to allow the Holy Spirit to work through us, sharing His Truth to help restore hearts of those prepared to receive Him. We will not conform to the status quo. Lovingly and boldly, we will continue to “advance God’s Kingdom in a ‘do your own thing’ society.” We will continue to serve as the tip of the sword, rightfully dividing the word of truth (2 Timothy 2:15). We will continue to be salt and light in places of darkness and territories the enemy thinks he owns.

I ask again: How do you impact the culture around you? Are you a change agent or conforming to the culture? Are you allowing the Holy Spirit to do an inside to outside work within and through you? Through your speech and actions are you advancing society’s destruction and further bondage or are you sharing the true freedom found only in Christ that will break every chain? Is your living inside/out?

-Nicole

Nicole D. Hayes is the founder of Voices Against the Grain, a bold teaching ministry launched in May 2013. Nicole’s purpose in creating Voices Against the Grain is to be light in darkness, to boldly instruct truth amid confusion so as to bring clarity and restoration.

Learn more about Nicole D. Hayes here.

 

 

Protect This House

Do you not know that your bodies are temples of the Holy Spirit who is in you, whom you have received from God? You are not your own; you were bought at a price. Therefore honor God with your bodies. -1 Corinthians 6:19-20 (New International Version)

Jason M. Alexandre, Voices Against the Grain Devotional Writer

Jason M. Alexandre, Voices Against the Grain Devotional Writer

Some of us have been enjoying the exciting National Football League playoff games the last couple of weekends. Both the away and home team has a single goal in mind, which is none other but to win. Though the question raise is: which team has more of a chip on their shoulder? In other words, which team feels the most pressure to win at that particular game? Let me suggest the answer is the home team. I noticed a home fan holding a sign that read “PROTECT THIS HOUSE.” For the fans expect their team to produce a win at home which also means that if the team is successful in winning, then they protected their home turf from outsiders coming in and getting glory.

If we have trusted in Jesus Christ as our personal savior, the Bible tells us that God now resides in us through the Holy Spirit and our bodies are a temple for Him that we must love, honor, and protect. How we use our bodies is extremely important to God. Our minds, hearts, and other body parts he urges us to offer them to him as a living sacrifice each day. For the Bible says, “Therefore, I urge you, brothers and sisters, in view of God’s mercy, to offer your bodies as a living sacrifice, holy and pleasing to God—this is your true and proper worship. Do not conform to the pattern of this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind. Then you will be able to test and approve what God’s will is—his good, pleasing and perfect will.” – Romans 12:1-2  1Cor61920 Glorify God with your body

So where do we start in protecting our bodies? For the unbeliever, it starts with a personal saving relationship with Jesus Christ. God’s wrath is still on you because of your sins if you have not trusted in his loving sacrifice of his only Son on the cross. For the Bible says, “very rarely will anyone die for a righteous person, though for a good person someone might possibly dare to die. But God demonstrates his own love for us in this: While we were still sinners, Christ died for us.” – Romans 5:7-8

My friend, to reject that love and his gift for you is a tragic mistake. For the believer, we start protecting our bodies, God’s temple by the renewing of our minds in reading His Word every day. The Bible is alive and relevant in every way for every circumstance or situation today. I’m so glad that God gave us this precious gift! For it helps us see through the deceptive and subtle half-truths and falsehoods floating around in the world. His Word is a true guide for us. What we feed our minds will be planted in our hearts and what is in our hearts we will inevitably act out. It is my prayer that our minds and hearts reflect the Word of God empowering us to live our lives and honor our bodies in such a way that is pleasing to him. –Amen.

About Jason M. Alexandre

Jason Melchizedek Alexandre was born in November of 1989 in Brooklyn, N.Y. His family later moved to Philadelphia, Pa., and he now resides in Limerick, Pa. In May of 2014, Jason obtained his Master of Social Work degree at Widener University. Professionally, Jason counsels persons who are homeless, parents, veterans, and others who suffer from various kinds of abuse. Although Jason’s career is Social Work, his spiritual passion is missions. Jason believes in actively answering the Great Commission call Jesus gave all Christians for the Gospel to be spread from person-to-person and nation-to-nation. Annually, Jason travels primarily to Haiti on a mission trip with Haiti Christianity Inc. Each year, Haiti Christianity, Inc., visits cities and/or villages in Haiti bringing children educational supplies, clothing, and medical supplies. They also facilitate conferences in which bible study, budgeting tips, financial planning and most importantly, evangelization takes place. Jason is currently the organization’s public relations director. Jason’s vision is for the gospel to continue to spread throughout the world and believes it is Christian’s responsibility to carry out this mission effectively. To learn more about the organization for which Jason volunteers, please visit www.HaitiChristianity.org.