The #MeToo Reckoning: Facing the Church’s Complicity in Sexual Abuse and Misconduct (IVP, 2020) responds to the rising awareness of sexual misconduct and a paradigm shift in regards to patriarchy and the silencing of victims (#metoo). Ruth Everhart’s book is not a knee-jerk reaction to this social event but a timely confrontation for the Church to address its own behavior.
The book is structured so that each chapter develops a particular theme, which Everhart intertwines with biblical narratives and stories of survivors (both her own story and stories that have been entrusted to her). These themes are common to the experiences of sexual abuse victims and develop a framework for understanding the breadth of the issue and its many tentacles. Each chapter also concludes with reflection questions (apt for individual or group study) and a brief note from the author about what her hopes are for the church, pertinent to that chapter’s theme.
The book is not a sociological exploration or explanation of sexual abuse. It is not a risk-management guide for congregations (although there is a useful chapter on what churches can do to improve). It is not an appeal for women to be more chaste and men to be more chivalrous. It is an unflinching look at a pervasive and detestable virus that inhabits the Church and must be addressed compassionately (for its many victims) and uncompromisingly (for its many perpetrators). By presenting this epidemic with clarity, biblical fidelity, and relational storytelling, Everhart delivers a necessary balm for a problem that has been misdiagnosed and maltreated in the Church for too long.
It is also an incredible example of contextual biblical interpretation done from the social location of victims of sexual assault and, more specifically, female victims. The biblical interludes would benefit anyone who is leading a bible study or preaching from these narratives to see another side of familiar stories and challenge male-dominant readings of Bible.
(A copy of this book was provided for the purpose of a fair and honest review.)