Many people I know watched the show “19 Kids and Counting.” The excitement was palpable because there was another show out demonstrating Christian values to the masses. I will be honest, I have always been skeptical of this version of Christian values. I did not understand “Duck Dynasty” either. I picked up quickly in all of these shows women were controlled, and now I know our society thinks that is holy. It will not be worded this way, but the fact is our abuse is loud and clear and instead of working towards our liberation, churches that have women subordinated currently are working harder to apply our submission to our husbands better. They are also digging their heals in that we still cannot preach. It cannot be complementarian theology causing this problem too many are saying; it has to be those who are applying it badly. Unfortunately, there just happens to be a lot of people applying it badly. I remember this sticking out to me in the show “Jon and Kate Plus Eight”. Kate seemed so unhappy, and her anger is what people noticed and judgements were made about her. I am not going to speculate on details, but I know what is happening to women in these situations is far deeper than what we are seeing and judging from the surface. Spiritual language distracts us from human suffering. This is not a few bad apples. This is a rotten tree. Read Mark 11 and you will get an idea of what Jesus thinks of this tree.
Josh Duggar, it was not unknown that he had a problem. He abused his sisters, and they went unprotected by this abuse. They locked the girls door and never got his abuse addressed when they had a better chance of handling it before it continued to grow and get worse. Although, it was terrible back then, and I have something to say about that in a minute. The Duggar family placed blame on girls and women for our abuse. And this is common, not unique to them, and even more common in their type of family system. I am learning the family had code words for when women walked by who were not modestly dressed enough by their standards. The girls would say the word and then the family would look down and keep moving. This is how women get viewed as the enemy and the ones causing our own abuse. This is also why women do not trust each other. We have been taught not to. We have also been taught not to trust ourselves. This is why white evangelical women have been so effective and instrumental in keeping patriarchy alive. (I am saying white because this is coming out of the white evangelical church, but patriarchy is worldwide and is sinful everywhere it presides)
Okay, I have a story that I have been holding back. It is not my family, but a family friend’s (former friend) son. I needed this story to not be a big deal because I feel like I have shared so much abuse. I hate there is more, and I really do not want to talk about it. I am going to be as vague as possible because I still need to talk to my therapist about this. But this story will not let me go. Child abuse is so prevalent in our society and it is going unaddressed because we say kids are resilient. It is coming out of church at an alarming rate, and I can also testify it is coming out of youth sports too. The desire to not have to deal with hard things and keep on winning trumps dealing with sin. I use this wording with purpose because the election of Trump revealed how much Christians are willing to overlook to get to whatever ends they are trying to get to–even when people are saying you are hurting me (physically and spiritually) with that viewpoint. Would you please listen? Church and society, both, are suspicious of the abused and have grace for the abuser. This is why God is with the oppressed. No one else wants to sit with them and believe their stories.
In elementary school a friend from a place we used to live came to visit us with his family. We were really young, I think it was third grade, and he took me into a closet one night and started touching me. I hated it and had no words to say how scared I was. I did not know how to tell him to stop because it was so shocking, and I did not want to be mean. I look back at this moment now and cry for all I went through as a child. I tried to play by the rules and be pleasing. I had no self-esteem because I learned in church women were the ones who lead men astray. I know churches with the best of intentions with complementarian theology would deny they send this message, but they do. We know as young as third grade, and even in first grade with my teach who abused me physically and mentally, that no one will believe us. We have to keep looking down and keep going. Somehow we are complicit so just believe that instead. It happened to me again later in youth group. The boy was eventually found out because he did it to so many girls, but nothing happened to him. The church, as a whole, will not look into their own complicity with harmful theology and environments that discourages the victim and encourages the one who abuses-even when it is a child who is doing the abusing. Josh Duggar represents what is happening in so many places and it goes unaddressed and gets worse. I am not even addressing the fact there is child porn in this blog post. There is no such thing. That is child abuse, and it is vile.
We need a world with a healing touch. Despite all I have been through I love hugs from people who care. I have been yearning for this kindness to envelop me and make me feel whole again. I need to cry and tell you all of this hurt. I want to live and trust again, but I need help. Of course, I have always been whole. The wounds, and churches’ messaging, were telling me I was broken. But I am not someone to be suspicious of, and I am not broken. I have worked hard to create a safe environment, for myself and everyone around me, and I promote a message of love as the only way to heal. But that does not mean women and children will always be pleasing. We have some really hard things to say, and we need a safe place to say it. I cannot forget the little girl crying in her closet with nowhere to go. This is why God became my playmate when I needed a friend.