Disturbance and Sexual Harassment

August 19th, 2018
Speaker: Pastor Joe Pang

Passage: James 4: 1-10 (NIV)

Continuing last week’s topic on #metoo and #churchtoo, I want to use this opportunity to dig deeper into the psyche of one’s desire and motives behind quarrels and disturbances in the context of church and your workplace and what can be done. Achieve a personal state of congruence and one will find that balance of appropriateness. Hint: One doesn’t get there from having a book of rules.

Submit Yourselves to God

4 What causes fights and quarrels among you? Don’t they come from your desires that battle within you? 2 You desire but do not have, so you kill. You covet but you cannot get what you want, so you quarrel and fight. You do not have because you do not ask God.3 When you ask, you do not receive, because you ask with wrong motives, that you may spend what you get on your pleasures.

4 You adulterous people,[a] don’t you know that friendship with the world means enmity against God? Therefore, anyone who chooses to be a friend of the world becomes an enemy of God. 5 Or do you think Scripture says without reason that he jealously longs for the spirit he has caused to dwell in us[b]? 6 But he gives us more grace. That is why Scripture says:

“God opposes the proud

   but shows favor to the humble.”[c]

7 Submit yourselves, then, to God. Resist the devil, and he will flee from you. 8 Come near to God, and he will come near to you. Wash your hands, you sinners, and purify your hearts, you double-minded. 9 Grieve, mourn and wail. Change your laughter to mourning and your joy to gloom. 10 Humble yourselves before the Lord, and he will lift you up.

Know your relationships

We work and live in the society as individuals with three types of relationships:

  • With oneself
  • With the Holy Spirit
  • With another

These forces interact with each other constantly throughout the day, none of them work in isolation. When a neighbor walks by your flat, have you wondered whether you should greet him/her? What goes on inside of you? Is there love involved in such a simple gesture?

The focus of today’s sermon is how we express our relationship with another, the 3rd point. It has a lot to with yourself. When the other two types of relationships are neglected, we dangerously affect the 3rd.

If I were going to serve you a list of commandments telling you what you can and cannot do. I wouldn’t be standing here preaching.

In Chapter 3 of the book of James, the scripture makes references to our mouths as a small organ but with great powers. Words and messages can be imbued with love and encouragement to give hope to others as well as seething hatred to bring others down.

If we learn to control what we say, it has major implications on our state of being.

Where the usefulness of text breaks down

The modern framework for determining what is sexual harassment is codified in laws and writing. But in certain contexts, even spoken words can be seen as a form of sexual harassment. This is where the usefulness of text breaks down. No exhaustive list can definitively tell us how we should act and in what context.

Subcultures have norms that subject its participants in different boundaries. It may be appropriate to give a bear hug at a gathering where everyone knows each other at a party, but the same action may be seen as harassment at work or church.

What is more useful is if every participant learns to connect and empathize with each other and come to an understanding.