Vandalizing Respect


Genesis 1:27
Raymond Chan, IGSL Faculty

RChan-S2The Mona Lisa is the most valuable painting ever. It is kept and displayed in the Louvre Museum in Paris. While it is admired by many people, this painting is also the most digitally vandalized. But the physical painting has also been vandalized at least three times. It is estimated that 8.5 million people visit and admire the painting every year in that museum, giving respect to the masterpiece and the master artist himself, Leonardo da Vinci. In the same way, we in the Christian community admire and give respect to the greatest masterpiece that our Master Artist has designed— you and me, the Imago Dei.

Genesis 1:27 says, “So God created man in his own image, in the image of God he created him; male and female he created them.”

I think the greatest assault to respect for one another, next to killing, is sexual harassment. It is far worse than gossip or slander or whatever you can think of. What is sexual harassment? “It is the uninvited and unwelcome verbal or physical behavior of a sexual nature especially by a person in authority toward a subordinate such as an employee or student.” (Merriam-Webster) In our context, it can also be termed sexual advancement or sexual offense. We violate somebody when we sexually harass a person. We make an unwelcoming and inappropriate intrusion to somebody when we take advantage of that person in a sexual way.

In committing sexual harassment, we are guilty of vandalizing the person’s image, the Imago Dei, who is lovingly created by God. Even in a seminary like IGSL, sexual harassment or advancement like flirting can happen. It has happened before, it maybe happening now. How could these things be happening in our community?

  1.  The way we talk to others. When we talk to others, we are encouraged to affirm others and to pay compliments. But sometimes we go over that. When you flatter with the intention of making that person like you more, to be physically attracted to you, then that’s dangerous. When you say something hinting of any kind of sexual innuendos, that is dangerous. We have to be careful with the words we say especially among married ones. To married people, that only person that you can give overly flattery words is to your spouse. To singles, if you say something beyond what is wholesome that will make you sexually aroused, that’s dangerous.
  2.  The way we touch others. Whether you are single or married, if the other person is not comfortable with the way you touched them, don’t make excuses. And be sensitive to those from other cultures because what’s appropriate for you may be offensive for them. I’m especially addressing the men to be careful. There’s also the matter of how we dress up, especially for ladies. We love to be in on fashion trends and sometimes we sacrifice our values with the way we dress. But as Christians, we should have our own standards on dressing. If you will cause the opposite sex to stumble or to be uncomfortable, then you have to think twice.
  3.  The way we look at others. The kind of gaze or staring at another person, we have to watch out for that. These things may sound absurd to you, thinking that this school is too conservative to be in touch with the 21st century living. But I guarantee you that if we continue to persist in being irresponsible in these areas, it will lead to sexual advancement, or worse, sexual harassment.

Sexual sins vandalize our fellow image-bearers badly. Sexual sin is rooted in looking at someone with lust (Matthew 5:28). No one here is immune to the struggle with lust. We are all targets of the enemy. Part of our daily struggle is with the flesh that is prone to commit sexual sins. We need to walk in the Spirit so as not to gratify the desires of the flesh (Galatians 5:16). And we need to confess our struggles, our sins to one another. This is what our community is all about. We need to take the risk to be transparent with one another. And if we live victoriously over our sinful flesh against sexual sins, then we can avoid vandalizing each other’s Imago Dei and be free to love and respect each other with pure motives.

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