A Call to Action: Understanding Boundaries and Consent
BATON ROUGE, LA. – To satisfy its monthly Sabbath program, our youth and young adults ministries veered from its usual format, choosing a panel discussion instead. Utilizing April’s “Sexual Assault Awareness” month and wearing teal, the emphasis’ color, the exchange began with moderator, Roquel McCarter, defining sexual assault as any type of sexual contact without permission including verbal, visional or non-contact. She continued with, “There is a need for Berean’s children and others to know there is space here to have a comfortable conversation about sex using age-appropriate language to answer their questions.” Panelist, Tyana Burke chimed in with how in the community, taboo surrounding the talk about sex has extended itself into the church; therefore, the church is uncomfortable with conversations about sex. Being raised in a Haitian culture where touching was encouraged, Manushka Gracia followed with, “If there were six adults in a room, regardless of how I felt, I had to go and kiss each one or be criticized. Children have to be taught to express themselves when they’re uncomfortable with adults or anyone else touching them.” Citing the book of Solomon and other examples, she stated how the Bible isn’t afraid to address the topic of sex and how it should serve as our model.
The lone male on the panel, Corey Clinton, added, “We have to teach children the appropriate boundaries and how to navigate themselves around those boundaries while we set the standard and are willing to change our own behavior.” Clinton’s summation emphasized that, “There’s no problem in seeking therapy to change behavior. Navigate the situation with wisdom; increase the emotional with intelligence.” McCarter then opened the floor for audience questions/input and invited us to “Share what you’ve heard today and keep the conversation going.” Our “amen” assured her we would.
By Evelyn Edwards