Today is Valentine's Day, our annual reminder to celebrate the love we share in our lives. While many may be struggling through aisles of candy hearts and bunches of roses, I invite you to flip this day of mandatory public expressions of love on its head.
What if, along with romantic dinners and expensive chocolates, we celebrated those we love by committing ourselves against sexual and domestic violence? This Valentine's Day, or V-Day, Sojourners is joining with One Billion Rising to speak out on violence against women -- the most hidden injustice in our world. We speak out because one in three women will be raped or beaten in their lifetime. That's one in three women in my family, in my circle of friends, in my workplace -- and in my church.
We speak out because we want a different reality for our daughters.
We speak out because our Christian faith tells us to lift up the voices others would silence.
And we speak out because we must rally our church leaders to commit themselves to do the same.
Pastors: If one-third of your church suddenly stopped tithing, wouldn't you start preaching about stewardship? Or if one in six people in your congregation struggled with drug or alcohol abuse, how quickly would you begin an addiction ministry?
About a year ago, Sojourners began writing, reporting, and soliciting stories about sexual violence and how we do or do not address it in our churches. The series, which you can read here, drew some of the largest responses we've seen in recent years. Stories are powerful, and they have the ability to change hearts and minds. That's why it is so important that we as pastors, church leaders, and people of faith provide a safe space for all people to tell their stories -- and for others to hear them.
It's not easy to talk about gender-based violence, particularly in the church, but there are simple steps you can take to increase awareness with our toolkit we have compiled and made available for free HERE. Start now:
- Take these tools and use them to start the conversation, talk to your pastor, or prepare your next sermon.
- With our draft letter, write to your pastor, urging her or him to take up the issue from the pulpit.
- Use our shareable social media images to spark conversation on Facebook, Twitter, Tumblr, or Pinterest.
- Join with us on Facebook to share "Why I rise " against gender-based violence.
- Take a look at the V-Day website for events near you.
- Share your story: with your faith community, with your friends, with us. We plan to keep speaking out, and we'll continue to write and be a source of conversation for others.
So this Valentine's Day, as you're picking up roses and chocolates on your way home, look beyond the obvious. Look at what it really means to love. Stand up with us and the other One Billion Rising to end gender-based violence.
Jim Wallis is president of Sojourners. His book, On God's Side: What Religion Forgets and Politics Hasn't Learned About Serving the Common Good, is now available. Watch the Story of the Common Good HERE . Follow Jim on Twitter @JimWallis.