When you’re the mother of four sons, the Stanford rape case — it’s not about somebody else… it’s about us.
Let’s be real clear, boys — I’m never writing you a letter like the father of Brock Turner, defending any sexual assault of a horrifically traumatized young woman as merely as “20 minutes of action.”
Rape is not “20 minutes of action” — it’s a violent act with lifetime consequences and it’s time for parents to take far less than 20 minutes of action and stand up right now and say hard things to our sons right now before it’s too late.
The Stanford rape case is about having a conversation with sons about hard things and asking sons to do holy things.
Because a Stanford doesn’t begin doesn’t begin with alcohol and it doesn’t begin with partying kids with inflated egos and it doesn’t begin with 20 minutes of not using your head but your hormones.
It begins with a woman like me bringing home a man-child in her arms, one mama unwrapping that blanket and what it means to raise up a man.
It begins with one mama looking into her son’s eyes for the next 18 years and showing young men what it means to be a woman, showing every son what a woman is worth, teaching every son the value of a woman.
I brought the first of you boys home when I was 21.
I cradled you, you crying and me crying, and the essence of me ran liquid and milky and a woman poured out of herself to keep you alive. You rooted hungry and it was the roots of a woman that nourished you. It was a woman who gave you life, it was a woman who was the grace of God that kept you alive. It was a woman who gave you life, it was a woman who was the grace of God that kept you alive.
I held you when fever burned your forehead. And I stroked back your hair when your stomach churned and I cleaned us both up when you vomited all over everything. I opened books for you and stoked your mind and unpacked a world before you and I laid down me to make more of you and it wasn’t a sacrifice but the unexpected grace of motherhood.
We talked about life being much more than you can see, so you knew that a woman is always more more than you can see.
I kept trying to be at peace in my own body so that you would always see women as more than a body. And I always told you that I’ve only ever met beautiful people. Ugly is only a state of soul.
I don’t know if I told you boys about that night I was 19 and I saw it in my rear view mirror, how a 20-something man reached over and started fondling a terrified 14 year-old sleeping girl. How the guy shrugged his shoulders when we confronted him, like he was brushing away an annoying fly. How there were girls that whispered that he’d grabbed them too in the dark of a car when he drove them home from youth group, how there were all these shy and ashamed girls who were violated and forced and indifferently robbed.
I want to tell you, son — we were all church kids. There was no alcohol. There were no parties. There were no jocks or big athletic teams or big name college campuses with rocking parties.
There were young men who opened their Bibles and didn’t value the worth of a God-fashioned woman made for glory, young men who sang worship songs and satiated their lust by ripping off the dignity of a sacred human being, young men who said women were the weaker vessel meant let’s drink them dry and be merry.
We went to the church elders.
A handful of us girls with one teenage boy who knew what he saw and wasn’t afraid, we went to the elders and sat there with our hands literally shaking and our mouths impossibly dry and we tried to find words for what should never have to be said. My cheeks and throat burned.
And I have never told anyone what happened next, to stay silent is to let perpetrators perpetuate.
We were looked in the eye, Son, and what we were told by grown men, by fathers, those words tried to shatter God —
“Boys will be boys.”
Son. When the prevailing thinking is boys will be boys — girls will be garbage.
And that is never the heart of God.
That’s what you have to get, Son — Real Manhood knows the heart of God for the daughters of His heart.
Your Dad is one of those men. When he heard of what happened in Stanford, how it keeps happening — boys your age violating a young women with such indifference and ignorance, he said it to me quiet —
Unless a man looks to Jesus, a man doesn’t know how to treat a woman.
So this is what your dad and I want you to get, to get this and never forget it: that when God decided to pull on skin and make His visitation into the world, He didn’t show up in some backroom of an inner boy’s club or regale us with some black tie inaugural affair.
This is what God chose as best, this is where He first became one of us: God chose to make His entry point into the world through the holy space of a woman, to enfold Himself inside of a woman, to drink of a woman, be held and nourished and cared for by a woman — that’s the jolting truth of how God loves His daughters with His honor.
That Christ never beat down a woman with harsh words or lusting eyes or sneering innuendos, but He stepped in and stopped a broken woman from the abuse of angry men.
Christ didn’t degrade women in His talk, but He made women heroes in His stories. He invited a woman with a coin and broom to reveal the truth about the Kingdom of God. That’s how God loves His daughters with His words.
Christ didn’t demonize women but He accepted the presence of a woman reviled by the self-righteous, He sat with the scandalous woman the righteous regarded as damaged goods, He welcomed the rejected and the immodest though he lost the respect of the religious. That’s how God loves His daughter with His grace.
When Christ stepped out of that black tomb, he still didn’t choose to first manifest Himself to prestigious officials, religious leaders, the Twelve, but instead He revealed Himself first to the women, He entrusted the veracity of His resurrection to the testimony of the women, He offered the privilege of proclaiming Christ as the risen Savior to the women, though no court at the time would accept their testimony. That’s how God loves His daughters with His regard.
So your Dad wanted you to know — when you turn the pages of the Bible, Son, let everything you read of women be shaped by how Jesus sealed His view and value of women.
Let Christ shape you and not the magazine covers of the Walmart checkout:
Real Manhood never objectifies women. Real Manhood edifies women.
Real Manhood means you don’t get drunk, and a man can get drunk on a lot more than alcohol.
Men drunk on power, on control, on ego, lose more than all inhibition — they lose The Way, their own souls. Men drunk on anything can destroy everything and real manhood thirsts for righteousness.
Real Manhood means peer pressure only makes you stronger in Christ.
That in a culture where it’s the tendency to bend, you’ll stand. That in situations where there’s tendency to look the other way, you’ll look for help. That, at times in the church when there’s a tendency to be divisive on the secondary and a unified front of silence on the painful, you’ll seek to rightly divide the truth and unify the brokenhearted.
Because if Christ is The Truth — then where there isn’t Truth, there isn’t Christ. Why ever be afraid of the Truth?
Because if you’re at peace in Christ, you fight injustice.
Real Manhood means you take responsibility for your body.
A woman’s immodesty is never an excuse for a man’s irresponsibility. Responsible men — are response-able. This is your job. A woman has her’s. Focus on yours. Real Men don’t focus responsibility on women staying “pure” but on men not pressuring. (Truth is, none of us are pure, Son, and the onus is on you, Son, to pursue holiness.)
Your Dad and I need you to know:
Real Men never pressure but treasure. No one tries to crush a diamond.
Because pressuring a girl? Is blackmail, coercion and repeated robbery attempts. You’re meant to be a man, not the mafia. When you’re pressuring a girl for what you want — is your flag to lean into Jesus who will give you what you need.
The thing is: Real Manhood means you hallow womanhood.
A woman isn’t a toy to amuse your lusts, a thing to aggrandize your ego, a trophy to adorn your manhood. A woman is of your rib, who birthed your rib, who cupped your rib, who is meant to be gently cherished at your rib, at your side.
The culture of boys will be boys — means girls will be garbage and you were made for more than this, Son. Your Dad and I believe boys will be godly and boys will be honoring and boys will be humble.
And that teenage boy from youth group, who saw how girls were hurting and violated in shadows and shame, who stood with the wounded because he believed real men of God are men for the hurting?
That brave teenage boy, Son?
He’s now your Dad.
There are more than a few good men, Son.
Real men like their Father — who laid down His life for His daughters.