In case anyone missed it, many of us have been participating in an ongoing conversation about sexuality and sexual ethics. There have been so many brave people sharing their stories with honesty and dignity. Collectively, we all seem to need to move away from the shame and fear that have permeated conservative evangelical teaching. This is an incredibly beautiful, brave venture and I’m proud to be part of it.
After one of the first posts went up, Sarah Bessey’s wonderful I am damaged goods, I began to notice something that disturbed me. Rather than understanding Sarah’s use of the phrase “damaged goods” for what it was in the context of her post, others were appropriating the term and using it to mean something very different. I lost count of the number of times I saw someone post or tweet something like this:
We are all damaged goods.
I understand what they meant. I, too, am a product of the doctrine of total depravity (that we are born without any goodness in us and our only worth comes from God). While I no longer hold that view, I certainly respect those who do. I also understand the sentiment to be a paraphrase of “All have sinned and fall short of the glory of God.” That isn’t my primary concern here.
The phrase “damaged goods” breaks my heart not only for women like Sarah Bessey who have been told that their sexual histories have ruined them but for all of us. We are not “damaged goods.” Not one of us.
Words mean things. “Damaged goods” is something we should use to describe a bruised banana or a dented can of tomatoes or a package of frozen peas that split open. Damaged goods are unsaleable throw-aways.
Call us sinners, if you believe we are. Say we make mistakes or that we sometimes hurt each other or that we need forgiveness (from people or God).
But don’t call us damaged goods. Human beings are not ever damaged goods.
We are not spoiled, ruined, useless, or worthless.
We are beautiful.
We are precious.
We are valuable.
We are loved.
You are loved. I am loved. Let us reflect that love that no one will ever again believe he or she is damaged goods.