The actions of a New Year’s Eve mob in Cologne, Germany, resulted in more than 100 women being taunted and groped or robbed by men described as North African or Arab in appearance.
The outrage over this crime spree has intensified pressure on the German government’s refugee policy, and pointed a spotlight on the lack of law enforcement by Cologne police. But this incident has also helped to expose a long-standing problem of sexism and violence in Germany itself. German women have steered the conversation to a no-tolerance policy toward sexual crimes, regardless of a man’s ethnicity (“Cologne attacks: Does Germany have a problem with sexual assault?” CSMonitor.com).
As a Christian Scientist, I’ve found that one of the most effective ways to bring about change begins with changing my own thinking through the lens of prayer and the spiritual inspiration it brings. In this case, a deeper understanding of the spiritual identity and integrity of both men and women is needed.
While the men who committed these crimes might have normally followed their moral compass, they behaved as though they were mentally inebriated, steered by group-think and the false protection of a crowd mentality. Their actions are by no means excusable and should not be ignored by law enforcement, but reaching deeper for the true nature of manhood and womanhood is essential for finding lasting freedom.
Spiritual integrity consists of understanding man (including men, women, and children) as made in God’s image, as the Bible tells us (see Genesis 1:26) – in the image of Love, God, and governed by divine Love rather than by animalistic impulses. When this true nature is understood, it has a way of transforming thoughts and actions for the better.
It was prayer about man’s innate integrity that helped me after a man who had been watching and following me tried to enter my apartment while I was living alone and working in Japan as a college student. Although I was able to keep him out, he lingered outside, and I felt shaken and vulnerable. I immediately turned to the haven of prayer for an answer, insisting on my right to feel fearless and that individual's right to be free from negative impulses that ran contrary to his true nature as God’s expression. Praying this way brought me the peace that the Psalmist sang of when he said, “I will both lay me down in peace, and sleep: for thou, Lord, only makest me dwell in safety” (4:8). Then, I felt directed to call my boss who came immediately to my apartment; he was able to persuade the man not to bother me anymore. I felt completely safe for the remainder of the summer, and I never saw that man again.
This experience reminds me of the biblical example of Abigail, who confronted David when his men were ready to murder and plunder her entire household. When Abigail discovered the plan, her appeal to David’s innate spiritual goodness stopped him and his men in their tracks. She reminded David that “evil hath not been found in thee all thy days” (I Samuel 25:28) and his demeanor shifted. He said, “Blessed be the Lord God of Israel, which sent thee this day to meet me: And blessed be thy advice, and blessed be thou, which hast kept me this day from coming to shed blood, and from avenging myself with mine own hand” (I Samuel 25:32, 33).
Understanding the presence and power of God, and our identity as His image, enables us to be true to our God-given integrity and live up to the highest moral standard. The same infinite intelligent power that guided Abigail’s words and changed David’s mind gives us strength to do what’s right and correct wrongdoing. Mary Baker Eddy writes that God, good, “annihilates ... whatever is wrong in social, civil, criminal, political, and religious codes; equalizes the sexes; annuls the curse on man, and leaves nothing that can sin, suffer, be punished or destroyed” (“Science and Health with Key to the Scriptures,” p. 340). That may sound like a tall order, but it proved true for Abigail, and inspired me in my own experience.
As we each come to trust this one divine Mind to govern our thoughts and actions, we can aid in proving that God’s all-powerful goodness, represented in His children, does triumph over the boastful charades of wrongdoing. That’s doing our part in preserving the integrity of both men and women.