Tuesday, March 12, 2013

Religion: as bad as it gets

I was starting to think my frustration with and ambivalence about religion (specifically, the religion I was raised in) was starting to wane. But no. Not at all. I think after reading these articles, I'm more upset than ever before. (warning, this talks about some pretty upsetting things: abuse, rape, and violence)

This post shows how some conservative evangelical depictions of God make him look, I can't really sugar coat this, sort of like a rapist. Yeah. Basically, the argument is, you can't say no to a rapist who is pointing a gun to your head. If you do, he's going to shoot you. Does that mean by not fighting back and risking death, you "consented" to the rape. Hell no. So wherein lies the difference, from a stand point of consent, between that frightening scenario and God saying (as per conservative Christian theology) that if you don't "consent" to God's will, you will spend eternity being tortured in hell. um. Yikes. But seriously? What kind of consent is that? {I've personally always struggled with the notion of free will in the Bible, anyway. Like Calvinism just sort of makes me want to vomit. But this definitely brings the conversation to a whole new level}
can’t say no to God: conservative Christianity and consent: I’m not sure that consent and conservative Christianity can coexist together. Rape and sexual assault are wrong because of purity reasons, because of property reasons, because of a vague “don’t hurt a child of God” reasons, but no one ever taught me that it was because it is my body and no one is allowed to violate it reasons. ...
God created our loneliness, but will wait on our permission…permission brought about by the inability to handle the pain any longer, pain he purposefully created so that we would come to him. He inflicts the knife wounds, hoards the medicine and waits patiently until we can no longer stand the torture and “consent” to the only “choice” we have to keep us alive.
And this post shows how the God of conservative evangelical religions looks a lot like an abusive husband. In domestic violence situations the perpetrator takes away your autonomy, your self-esteem, and all of your identity, making you totally dependent on him. He's super jealous. And, of course, he hurts you. Like the God of the batshit insane Pat Robertson and Jerry Falwell; the God who is evidently behind every tragedy. You know, because we made God mad and he has to teach us a lesson. And let's not forget the ultimate lesson God will teach us for our disobedience: eternity in hell. Um, that sounds a lot like A GIANT OMNIPOTENT WIFE BEATER to me. No, thank you.
God in Reeboks In God’s eyes, I was a worthless sinner. Any good I might do was nothing more than filthy rags to God [ed note: I to this day vividly remember this Bible study lesson; we were ask to generate a list of things like used tampons and snotty Kleenex  then we were told that is what are good deeds are to God. Yeah.]. God’s spokesmen (Baptist church pastors, of course) were constantly reminding me of this. If I were truly humble, I’d realize the wickedness of my own heart and stop trusting myself, my emotions, my thoughts. I’d stop trying to be independent and I’d put my future in God’s loving hands. 
[an abusive God] told me “Love me, or I’ll send you to be tortured for all of eternity.” [an abusive boyfriend] told me “Love me, or I’ll blackmail you, yell at you, hurt you, kill you.”
I mean, gross, right? So now maybe you are wondering, what is the point of all of these analogies. And here is my point. This isn't just philosophical. This sort of crap (like I mentioned here) enables all sorts of real abuse. Like the allegations against Sovereign Grace Ministries (SGM) (here and here if you haven't heard).
A Church Group, a Lawsuit, and a Culture of Abuse It’s no accident that so many allegations of serious abuse have arisen across SGM’s churches. The combination of patriarchal gender roles, purity culture, and authoritarian clergy that characterizes Sovereign Grace’s teachings on parenting, marriage, and sexuality creates an environment where women and children—especially girls—are uniquely vulnerable to abuse. 
Critics of evangelical sexual mores have noted the connections between demands for female modesty and chastity and a culture where these same bodies are constantly exposed to sexual violence and abuse. As E.J. Graff put it her analysis of the global implications of the gang rape and murder of Indian medical student Jyoti Singh Pandey, purity culture, whether in India or America, casts “women’s bodies [as]…primarily for procreation or male pleasure… a culture in which women must cover up or be threatened is a rape culture.” [Emphasis mine]
If, as Graff writes, purity culture is rape culture, then the submission culture that exists in many conservative evangelical churches is abuse culture. The level of deference and obedience that children are expected to pay to parents, wives to husbands, and girls and women to an exclusively male leadership is so extreme that it encourages—and sometimes outright demands—submission to men who use their power to abuse. 
At Sovereign Grace, abuse culture was literally a part of the teachings. The allegations against CLC co-founder Larry Tomczak bring to mind his bizarrely titled 1982 book God, the Rod, and Your Child’s Bod, a parenting guide that was in heavy use at SGM before his departure. In it, he advises parents to keep multiple instruments for beatings in handy locations so they can “apply loving correction immediately.”
I just. I can't. I'm done. This is horrifying to me. My urge to "rescue" people from these beliefs is way stronger than any urge I ever had to "share the good news of Jesus Christ" with my friends. Because what sort of good news is this? We were peddling some hot mess version of Jesus and it was certainly not good news, not by any stretch.


  1. This, a thousand times this!

    I read Job on the advice of a friend when I was going through a tough time. That was my final straw. It was like God was some frat boy that took the fat chick to the party to prove to his friends she would do anything he wanted.

    I have never heard those analogies, but I couldn't agree more.

    1. omg, that's an amazing and sad analogy. Wow.

    2. Why thank you. Sometimes I have good thoughts before coffee.