*TRIGGER WARNING*: Domestic violence, spousal abuse, gender violence, oppression in the name of religion
IT’S TIME WE KISSED RAPE CULTURE GOODBYE
“The churches have language to bring to this discussion that secular society does not. We can talk about gravely harmful behavior without having to resort to legal definitions and loopholes. We can claim that sexual activities, in every instance, should embody love and respect for oneself and the other. The language of sexual activities as an expression of love and respect clearly exposes the misstep that a rape victim could ever be “asking for it” and the mistake of defining consent exclusively in terms of its minimum requirements”
– Julia, of Women In Theology, Sexual Violence And the Church Talking To Teens
“A person who has been whacked around is in no condition to spiritualize the matter. Can you imagine an abused woman being advised to wait before going to the authorities until she “longs for, with a heavy and humble heart, the reestablishment of the abuser’s “nurturing” relationship?” Why does he even assume that there has ever been a nurturing relationship? I can see it now. The woman sitting in Piper’s office, with two black eyes, shaking, and Piper saying “You are not humble enough, woman. Repent.” Good night!”- Dee, The Wartburg Watch, Domestic Violence,, Christmas, John Piper, SGM, and the TGC
“Having “liberated” us from the way popular culture and media objectifies, degrades, and oppresses women, complementarian leaders can now objectify and oppress us in other ways with nicer words (and with support from God).”
- Sarah, Sarah Over The Moon, Some Humans Are More Equal Than Others: Introduction: John Piper, Joshua Harris, Mark Driscoll
““Rape culture,” as young feminists now call this, isn’t limited to India. It lives anywhere that has a “traditional” vision of women’s sexuality.”-E.J. Graff, The Prospect, Purity Culture Is Rape Culture
Today on the front pages of newspapers and blogs everywhere, after you ignore the crap we are being told about the “fiscal cliff,” there is a disturbing trend I wish to address. As I hear and read stories in silence, horrified at the events that took place in India, where a 23-year-old physiotherapy student died after having to have surgery from being sexually assaulted by several men. To add to that is the Steubenville, Ohio high school rape of a young girl where only 3 suspects are being prosecuted possibly. Rape was nothing more than a practical joke because women’s bodies have become things to be lorded over and owned as possessions. In one instance, writers like E.J. Graff would blame “traditional” religions (I guess that’s code for cultures in the two-thirds world). The conflict between the modernized Western Progressive versus the Backwoods Eastern Religious zealot does not work in the context of rape. Sexual violence is sexual violence, regardless of the culture, race, or religion of the victim. It’s a complete bourgeois move on Graff’s part to take a cheap shot a religion. A religion promoting self-control is not the problem in a late capitalist world of “Gotta Have It” desires. One historical example of chastity/purity gone right for the sake of liberation: one, when the early Black church desired emancipation from the North American rape culture of African enslavement, the few literate black (male) pastors who called upon freed black men to abstain from alcohol as to avoid any suspicion of immorality, and as an expression of dignity in the face of grave injustice.
Purity culture in and of itself is not the villain, it is the double-standards, lopsided sexist emphasis on the chastity for women, making women’s behavior and fashion the blame for men’s struggles with lust. This is an entirely modern phenomenon, by modern I mean post-Reformation/16th century. The early Church fathers, and male philosophers and thinkers in general in their context, believed that men could and should have self-control when it came to sex. Yes, they still affirmed many of them the inequality of the sexes, but when it came to traditional views of sexuality, women were not made the scapegoats (objectified) for men’s sexuality. Time Travel forward to today, and what we have in U.S. American Christianity is a purity culture only geared towards young girls and women, purity balls for girls, purity rings for girls, and purity bears.
The problem with the purity culture in North American Christianity is the very limited notion of what it means to be pure (that is, for generally all people, purity is about abstaining from sexual practices). Abstinence is a good idea, but self-control is far superior, a self-control for the sake of living before God and others. In the Old and New Testament,purity and religion are never separate from seeking justice from others. Religious purity according to James 1:27, “Religion that is pure and undefiled before God, the Father, is this: to care for orphans and widows in their distress, and to keep oneself unstained by the world” shows an understanding of purification that is not limited to sexual purity.
What complementarians (church going men who see women as 2nd class citizens) cling to is exactly what is impure: the power that men have over women. The world in scripture is just not about “the cosmos” or a “large group of reprobate sinners”; the world also refers to the ways that society sustains unjust and unloving practices against human beings. Domestic Violence is ALWAYS out of God’s will. Rape (Todd Akin) IS NEVER PART OF GOD’S PLAN! The social libertarian thrust of TeaVangelicals (church going tea partiers –I refuse to call them Christians)leads to religious impurity, ill-will and antipathy towards victims of sexual violence. Religious persons need to start having a broader understanding of what it means to be pure, and start incorporating nonviolent practices into that discourse. For Christians, we need to stop telling women that they need to stay on the cross of domestic violence just a little while longer to suffer with Jesus. That is not God’s will, Jesus got off that cross, died to conquer the Satan and oppression for us, and rose from the dead as the One and Only needed sacrifice, Once AND FOR ALL. No more sacrifices are required or mandated (Hebrews 10:1-18). The sacrificial system, the scapegoat mechanism. It is finished.