The Gethsemane Moment
Stay awake and pray that you may not come to the time of trial; the spirit indeed is willing, but the flesh is weak.
I have been following the story out of Steubenville, Ohio with a mixture of anger, horror and disgust. I am angry that our culture finds it acceptable to try the accuser and the accused in the court of public opinion and social media before they have had their day in court. I was taught that the hallmark of our judiciary is that one is "presumed innocent until proven guilty," and it aggravates me that such a critical principle is so easily disregarded.
I am horrified and disgusted that the sin of misogyny is still so prevalent in our culture that violence against women (and those who've been "feminized") continues to be socially acceptable. Gender based violence in our world takes on so many forms and from snide comment to open attack, it usually happens without comment.
As my emotions swirled, a friend sent me a web link (www.askmoxi.org. The link contained the text of a letter entitled "A Letter to My Sons about Stopping Rape." In her letter, this mother entreats her sons:
If you are ever anywhere where boys start hurting a girl, or touching her in any way that she doesn't want, you need to step in. If she's asleep or drunk or passed out or drugged and can't say "no," you need to step in..... Even if you don't like the girl, step in. Even if she's been mean to you or snobby, or someone told you she did something you think is gross. No matter what she did, no one should hurt her.... Do not worry that everyone will hate you if you stop the cool kids from doing something. Stopping someone from hurting another person makes you a hero. This is what you're here to do.
As a follower of Jesus, I read in the mother's letter encouragement about what should happen in "The Gethsemane Moment." This is the moment where your options are do what everyone expects you to do, do nothing, or do what you are called to do. The spirit may indeed be willing, but the flesh is weak.
As we walk the Holy Week path with Jesus, we come to recognize the moments of decision in our own lives: times when we could have spoken out but chose silence, times when we "went along to get along," times when we chose what was easy over what was right. When I read the passage about Jesus' time in Gethsemane, I see Jesus recognizing that he needs more than his humanity to do what he knows he must do.
It takes more than human good will to face the demonic forces in our world, because to do so usually means facing our own demons. It takes more than courage to stand in defiance of culture and political will, because in doing so, you risk not only yourself, but those you care about. The strength to be a love/light/truth -bearer in this world comes from the Spirit of Light/Love/Truth. It comes from a community that reminds its members ("this is how they will know that you are my disciples," love your enemies," "be merciful as your God is merciful," "you are the light of the world") and the world that there is a still more excellent way.
May our loving God grant us all wisdom and courage when we encounter our Gethsemane Moment.