On an appointed day Herod put on his royal robes, took his seat on the platform, and delivered a public address to them. The people kept shouting, "The voice of a god, and not of a mortal!" And immediately, because he had not given the glory to God, an angel of the Lord struck him down, and he was eaten by worms and died. - Acts 12:21-23
In Nairobi, Kenya, where sexual assault rates are sky-high, a program called "No Means No Worldwide" teaches adolescent boys to intervene when they see girls getting assaulted.
The same program teaches the girls to say to would-be perpetrators, "I am dangerous."
Rape and sexual assault rates have dropped as much as 20 percent since the training began (not good enough: but it's a start).
What most caught my attention was the phrase, I Am Dangerous, in the mouth of someone who is about to become a victim.
Abuse thrives on our silence to preserve the status quo. The batterer, the date rapist, the sexual abuser, the subway perv, all of them depend upon silence to do what they are going to do.
What if we could overcome the inertia of silence and complicity? What if we could trust the strength of our own voices?
What if we could learn to say loudly, on public transportation, in the fraternity basement, in our own kitchens, "I am a child of God, and made in the image of God, and my God is DANGEROUS. You don't want to mess with my God and you don't want to mess with ME."
We forget, to our peril, that our domesticated, gentle God, the God of Footprints posters, is also a dangerous God who was not above blasting those who misused their authority to overpower Her vulnerable people, á la King Herod. And that God has given us the power to call upon "the voice of a God, and not a mortal!"
God, help us to break our silence in difficult situations, when we ourselves or others are being mistreated and misused. Give us the courage of our convictions and the volume we need to change the status quo. Amen.
Molly Baskette is lead pastor of the quirky, loveable and truth-telling First Church Somerville UCC in Somerville, MA. Read their personal testimonies in her latest book, Standing Naked Before God: The Art of Public Confession.