purity culture

Time to turn the tables: Conservatives do NOT define Christianity!

I’ve been seeing a lot of crap online lately about Christians having to follow a certain conservative-defined set of beliefs.  I’ve been complaining about it on Facebook and Twitter; I’ve been feeling abused, traumatized, and very, very tired.

So yet another conservative (Matt Walsh this time) is shooting his mouth off about what “Christian” means and saying,

I don’t care how you feel about Trump, if you’re a Christian you cannot support Joe Biden. The fact is that Joe Biden supports and will impose policies that contradict the moral tenets of your faith at the deepest levels. The same cannot be said for Trump. And it’s that simple.

(I replied, “NOPE.  Conservatives don’t get to dictate to us what “Christian” means.  They’re backing a monster.  I’m sick of people saying you can’t be “Christian” if you’re a Democrat.  I’M DONE.”)

And the other day I learned about a pastor saying that people in his church who are “woke” need to be subjected to Matt 18 church discipline, with excommunication a possibility.  Then there’s a poster on The Ancient Way forum–who I remember from when I posted there between 2005 and 2010?–saying this:

Well, as far as whether kooks are dealt with appropriately, I’d say it’s the general problem of people entering the Church and thinking their own ideas to be the mind of the Church, and refusing correction from the consensus of Holy Tradition. Many walk around with all kinds of ideas out of whack with Tradition. Some think divorce from other churched Orthodox and remarriage to be perfectly fine and necessary, others that same sex sexual relations or other sexual relations outside of holy matrimony are not sin, still others that women ought to be priests, some hold that the words of Christ on some issues today are not relevant, a few do think that interracial marriage is somehow bad, and even more think that a majority race ought to be prosecuted if not persecuted for imagined “privilege” and alleged inherent unconscious racism, all ideas that were never taught by the fathers. This refusal to be corrected by the Tradition of the Church constitutes sin, a failure of obedience, humility, and submission. Anything we say, including me, should be subject to such correction. —rusmeister

(I remember this person.  I saw him as a fanatic 15 years ago, too.  He’s the one who yelled at me when I came to the forum asking for advice after witnessing Tracy abusing one of her kids.  It shocked another poster, who privately messaged me with resources if I needed them.  Rusmeister is an American convert always praising Russia and dissing everything Western–and, by the way, he said that blacks have no right to complain about how they’re treated because he sees REAL oppression in Russia. 🙄 )

Then there’s the Ayn Randites who say screw poor people, screw the old, screw the sick, take off your masks and just let them all die: It’ll siphon off the excess population and be great for the economy.  (You’ll find such a person, Matthew Harvey, in the comment section here.)

Then there’s the multitudes of conservatives acting all butt-hurt because the rest of the world doesn’t want to follow their Archie Bunker ideas anymore of what makes good TV or comics or movies or books.  Maybe we got tired of how women and minorities were being portrayed.  Maybe we got tired of fat jokes and wife jokes and dumb women having to be rescued.  DEAL WITH IT.  The culture has moved on.

And don’t forget how, for many years now, we’ve been called libtards, Demoncrats, feminazis, accused of having a mental disease, because we refuse to let money-grubbing fat capitalists tells us what’s best for us or the environment.

Then there’s the anti-Semitic conspiracy theories–Illuminati, QAnon, New World Order, Soros, etc.–which all come straight out of the Nazi playbook.

Plus there’s a multitude of forum posts, tweets, blogs, placards, bumper stickers, TV shows, magazines, articles, etc. etc. etc. telling us that “Christianity” means “vote for the GOP so they can make abortion/homosexual marriage etc./whatever we don’t like illegal!”

You know what?  You can shove it all.  I’ve read the Bible so many times I can’t even count anymore.  What you’re pushing is NOT CHRISTIANITY.  It’s your own Pharisaical, man-made Christianity.  There is no truth in it, only oppression, only white patriarchal dominance.

I’m sick of people like this telling me what “Christianity” means and–every time somebody tries to point out that Trump is the opposite of Christian–saying that Dems, Biden, whoever, is in favor of abortion.  That’s just whataboutism, ignores all the realities of the issue, and takes the focus off the real atrocities being committed in the name of Christ by an antichrist named Trump.  So we’re supposed to forget all about the kids in cages, the poor being oppressed, people losing their healthcare, women losing their hard-won rights, minorities and immigrants and LGBTQ+ feeling frightened, because Biden doesn’t believe in the government getting between a woman and her doctor and conscience?

We’re supposed to back down and say “Oh, I’m sorry, you know best, I don’t” and let you keep dominating the discussion?  We’re supposed to let you keep defaming the name of Christ?  We’re supposed to let people like this continue to smear mud all over Christianity just as they have for hundreds of years?  These people are the reason why non-Christians hate Christians!  They are the reason why we don’t get more converts, why so many people are instead leaving the churches in droves!  They see the hypocrisy and want no part in it!

It’s time to fucking turn some tables over.  It’s time to stop letting the conservatives dominate everything.  It’s time to stop being polite.  They DON’T define Christianity.  They don’t even know what it is.

This also kind of relates to another issue: A couple of weeks ago, I tweeted,

Someone else’s post on a totally unrelated incident re: abuse and shame turned on a light bulb for me: Even though I myself published on my site my stories of abuse, I still get uneasy about “exposure.” Why is that? Because the abusers made me feel ashamed, and it still lingers.

Basically, in a private forum, there was a discussion about someone who posted their abuse story, and whether it was the right of other people to share it.  Someone noted that abusers so shame their victims that they still fear exposure, even when they know what was done to them was wrong.

It explained to me why I get nervous about people reading the many abuse stories I’ve posted here, even though they are public.  You’ll note that I don’t use my real name; I also get very protective about my real name on Twitter, where a group of trolls occasionally tries to “out” me.

That’s because my many abusers tried to shame me, make me feel like it was my fault they treated me that way.  It still lingers, still comes out when I see trolls or abusers going through my site, still occasionally makes me want to take all the stories down off the Web.

But this is all part of the Shame culture perpetuated in conservatism: It permeates everything, from your sexuality, to your beliefs, to your thoughts, to any deviation from the accepted dogma on any issue, whether religious or political or social.

Shawn, for example, shamed me because he had taken in himself the patriarchal Purity culture idea that the woman is responsible for stopping a man from whatever he wants to do.  So even though it was always his idea, and I always let him lead, he turned it into MY character failing, MY fault, MY disgustingness.

Phil shamed me for not letting him be right in everything, for not letting him have his way in everything.

Tracy shamed me for not following a strict code of behavior from the oppressive Purity culture; she and Richard shamed me for not following the extrovert’s code of behavior.

All of them are WRONG.

I have no reason to be ashamed because other people abused me.  That is all on them.

I have no reason to be ashamed because I don’t fit somebody else’s idea of what it means to be a Christian.  I have my own mind, my own heart.  I can think for myself.  I can reason.  I don’t have to submit to anyone else’s ideas.

Time to turn some tables.  DON’T YOU SPEAK FOR ME.

 

Rapists apologizing–or not

I just read this article by Deborah Copaken.  She’d been raped 30 years ago, but didn’t tell anyone at first.  She then told the intake psychologist at her University Health Services, but was advised not to report it to the police, because of the irreparable damage it would do to her: She wouldn’t be able to live in Paris as she planned, and her sex life would be dredged up and judged during the trial.  She didn’t tell her parents till years later–and did it through a memoir, not to their faces.  Due to the Kavanaugh hearings, she finally got the courage to write to her rapist and confront him.  His response:

And do you know what this man did, less than half an hour later? He called me on the phone and said, “Oh, Deb. Oh my god. I’m so sorry. I had no idea. I’m filled with shame.”

We spoke for a long time, maybe 20 minutes. He had no recollection of raping me, just of the party where we’d met. He’d blacked out that night from excessive drinking and soon thereafter entered Alcoholics Anonymous. But that, he said, was no excuse. The fact that he’d done this to me and that I’d been living with the resulting trauma for 30 years was horrifying to him. He was so sorry, he said. He just kept repeating those words, “I’m so sorry,” over and over.

Suddenly, 30 years of pain and grief fell out of me. I cried. And I cried. And I kept crying for the next several hours, as I prepared for Yom Kippur, the Jewish holiday of forgiveness. And then, suddenly, I was cleansed. Reborn. The trauma was gone. All because of a belated apology.

I also know someone who was accused of assault many decades after the fact.  He did not, could not remember ever doing such a thing.  But instead of denying it, he apologized anyway.

Contrast this to how Kavanaugh reacted to being accused, even though many witnesses have confirmed that he used to get blackout drunk when he was in high school/college.  Can’t he even consider that he might have done it and just doesn’t remember any of it?  Why can’t he apologize when others have done so for sexual crimes they don’t even remember?

I’ve also thought about–with all this going on, and #MeToo–finally confronting Phil and Shawn, all these years later.  But I wonder if it would do any good, because haven’t I already done this, with nothing good coming of it?

They were not drunk or on drugs when they did these things; they were fully conscious and remembered later.  But they did not apologize.

While Shawn did do a lot of pushing to get me to do things I was not initially comfortable with because of my upbringing, he didn’t go against my will.  That was not his transgression.  Rather, after all the pushing, I eventually began to want what he wanted to do, so I let him do it.

But then he blamed me for not saying no to him, for letting him do it, and I’d be subjected to HOURS of him scolding me (well into the wee hours of the morning, even 5am) for letting him do it.

I always let him take the lead, because of these scold sessions; I never, ever started things, out of respect for what he’d said the last time.  Yet he still blamed me for the things he did this time.

I never understood why he’d blame me.  I never could figure out how he could live with justifying himself like this by turning around on me what he himself had done.  It was definitely an abusive relationship, full of gaslighting and DARVO.  And like many abuse victims, I was too in love, and too involved in it to recognize it at first.  I finally went to the school counselor to help me break free of him.

But the words of Libby Anne and other bloggers are finally making it clear to me what was going on, how he could blame me for what he himself did:

While conservative evangelicals give lip service to boys and men, too, having an obligation to remain pure until marriage, the burden of saying “no” falls primarily on girls and women. Why was Dr. Ford at a party where there was underage drinking? Why did she go upstairs in a strange house, alone? She put herself in harm’s way—can a guy be blamed for asking what she was clearly offering? Or so the logic may go.

In evangelical circles, boys and men can be more easily forgiven for touching “loose” women than they can for touching godly virgins. In Proverbs, the “wayward woman” leads godly young men to the slaughter. In evangelical circles, girls can easily find themselves painted temptresses, and blamed for their own assaults. —White Evangelical Forgiveness Narratives, Brett Kavanaugh, and Dr. Christine Blasey Ford

Then there’s Phil.  Years later, I see his ex-fiancée posting on Facebook about how wonderful he is–so gentle, so sweet, wouldn’t hurt a fly–except there’s a “Bipolar Phil,” a guy with Fetal Alcohol Syndrome, who takes over.  Yet I remember this episode, where I clearly said that what he did was rape, so he’s already been confronted:

But one night, what a horror!  In the middle of things he said, “Give me your backside.”

I kept saying, “No, not that way!” but he kept pressuring.

Before we finished, while still on top of me, he withdrew and moved down to my anus, not actually in but trying to get in.

I pleaded with him to move.

I clearly said no, and I also struggled, trying to push him away.

But he didn’t listen and didn’t move, and he ejaculated like that.  It got all over, and I got mad at him for not respecting my wishes.

At one point, as he sat hunched over on the side of the bed in the darkness, I said that rape could be grounds for divorce.

He said in a trembling, petulant, upset voice, “So are you going to divorce me now?”

I said no, but our reconciliation was probably painful.  It felt like a rape.  I still think of it as one.  He did to me sexually what I didn’t want him to do, despite my pleas.  The trouble is, in a situation like this, how would you even prove it in court?

….

[O]ral sex…was another point of contention: It was gross, no matter who did it to whom.  I didn’t want him to kiss me afterwards, but he would whine that none of his other girlfriends said that.

I didn’t want to do it to him, didn’t want to put anything like that in my mouth, did not like the taste, would not do it long enough to get him to ejaculate, because it was absolutely disgusting.

But he kept trying to get me to do it.  (His “subconscious” tried to ease me into it.  More on that later.)  But I got no pleasure from it, was grossed out by the whole thing.

I may have been traumatized by this and the constant coercion: When the cafeteria served okra that fall, I couldn’t eat it, because it was slimy and reminded me of oral sex.

Ever since then, I have never engaged in this disgusting practice again, and have been blessed with a husband who also finds it gross and wants nothing to do with it.

Late summer, during sex, Phil sometimes tried to turn me over to do my backside–with a petulant, angry, stern look on his face, like he wanted to control me and I’d better do what he wanted or else.  I would refuse and resist his hands, and push myself back down.

…In September, he broke off the marriage and spent a couple of weeks psychologically abusing me.  Then he came back to me.  I thought he wanted to be married again, but he just wanted sex and a submissive puppet.

By now, my will was broken, and I was desperate to do whatever he wanted, just to keep him from leaving again.

If I didn’t want to do something he wanted to do, it meant I didn’t care like I said I did.

I felt like I was walking on eggshells, and the slightest thing might push him away.  I felt I had to align all my opinions with his, do things exactly as he wanted even though I couldn’t read his mind, or he’d divorce me.

He seemed like a different person.  After he broke up with me, I was a broken, submissive person who was desperate to do whatever he wanted, just to keep him from leaving again.  That meant even oral sex:

One day, when he got me alone, before I had a chance to even talk to him, and without a word, he pulled down his pants.

He got a strange, angry, stern look on his face, and pushed my head down–forced, really, since I couldn’t move my head whether I wanted to or not.

I didn’t want to–it was smelly, I didn’t know if he had washed it recently, and I never liked doing this–but I did anyway, because of the unspoken but well-understood threat that he would divorce me if I didn’t. —Described here

This was a man in full possession of his faculties who knew exactly what he was doing.  This was a man who–when I used the word “rape”–became petulant rather than apologetic.

Now I hear about the bipolar Phil, the FAS Phil, and that he’s fighting for his life due to chemical imbalances that have damaged his brain and made him suicidal.  Since I already confronted him years ago, I wonder if it’s even worth bringing it up again.  I feel like maybe I shouldn’t poke the bear and dredge it all up again.  I wonder if he even remembers, given his brain damage.  I wonder if it’s all due to the FAS and bipolar and a couple of other diagnoses–which his fiancée has alluded to, without naming them.  I wonder if bringing it up again would be the last straw that would lead to him killing himself.

So I stay silent.  I think it’s best.  But still, the memories keep getting triggered, thanks to our president and his praising of Kavanaugh, along with the many defenses of Kavanaugh that have been coming from conservatives lately.

But I guess we’re just snowflakes accusing an innocent man.

 

Reblog: My Fundamentalism of the 1960s Has Changed for the Worse—Considerably Worse | Jesus Without Baggage

The author of this post experienced fundamentalism more along the lines of my own, growing up in the 70s/80s.  We weren’t the KJV-only crowd, and nobody cared if women taught men, but much of it was the same.  But the author writes about many changes which have sprung up in fundamentalism lately, including the intense focus on patriarchy and purity culture (young people not even kissing till marriage) :

We became fundamentalists in 1958 when I was 7, and I ate it up! We joined a Freewill Baptist Church and I was with those churches until 1970. However, I did not absorb fundamentalism only from FWB…

Source: My Fundamentalism of the 1960s Has Changed for the Worse—Considerably Worse | Jesus Without Baggage