Emotional abusers who claim that “hardship” is what “God” intends for the faithful.
I’ve heard it in almost every church I’ve attended…
Sexual abusers who claim that “girls” should be “more careful” how they dress.
I’ve felt it in almost every church I’ve attended…
Physical abusers whose “humility to ask for forgiveness” allow them access to beat their wives repeatedly.
Aren’t we tired yet, of all of the abusers who claim to speak for God?
Let’s just come out and put it clearly in the words of Tori Amos:
“God, sometimes you just don’t come through… do you need a woman to look after you?”
As a survivor of conversion therapy, I know all about leaders who speak for God. They spoke for “God” about the “miracle” of healing a person from homosexuality through shame-tactics and brainwashing techniques, sometimes combined with a few false memories and exaggerated gender-norming strategies.
But more than this, I know all about leaders who speak for God when it comes to innocent children…
It was leaders who “spoke for God” who told me at 12 years old, that I could be a good Christian “witness” (or example) to my abuser, if only I would pray more…
I just recently came forward publicly as a survivor of childhood sexual abuse – and a separate attack at age 15, from a “trusted adult” figure in the church. Why did I stay silent all these years, aside from writing about it in Enlightened-ish and a few obscure blog pieces?
The reasons have to do with how survivors stories sound out of the mouths of those who claim to speak for God.
Now with this week’s news of a religious-based TV show being taken off the air because of the scandal involving years of sexual abuse by a man who claims to be an authority on morality, would you think I am going to say anything that hasn’t been said?
Do you think after all I’ve experienced, I would want to shed some light on this for survivors?
You thought right… because if I’m going to lift myself out of this stink that is my newsfeed right now, I have to find my voice.
Overall, I picked “5” Reasons I’ve had enough because I disclosed to FIVE Christian adults that I was being abused by my neighbor… so in the memory of their failure to actually SPEAK UP FOR ME, I offer these reasons.
5 Reasons I’ve Had Enough of Abusers who Claim to Speak for God:
1. I’ve had enough because… abusers don’t get to “spiritualize” their psychological issues.
Child abusers abuse for lots of reasons, but “God” is not one of those reasons. I mean, if God “is” a reason, then that’s another piece. Let’s stop pretending that “God” has anything to do with the mental illness and lack of empathy that abusers have towards their victims.
2. I’ve had enough because… bystanders don’t get to spiritualize our psychological trauma.
Abuse survivors need professional mental health support to recover from these experiences. Trying to “heal” through prayers is like trying to change a tire by drinking a latte. (No, it doesn’t make sense!) It’s time we emphasize the separation of church and… actual mental health support.
3. I’ve had enough because… God really doesn’t have a reputation for being emotionally sound.
Let’s stop pretending like God is actually love. Jesus and some of the other prophets and teachers along the path of spirituality seem to have some sound emotional awareness sometimes, but what we “know” about “God” based on sacred texts is that he/it is the kind of being who likes trauma. (i.e. wars, floods, plagues, human sacrifice, hell, apocalypse, etc.) Trauma survivors don’t need spiritual drama – they have enough actual drama with their healing process.
4. I’ve had enough because… if there is a God, she might not “forgive.”
Let’s pretend for a moment that no one actually believes in the “god” that is presented in sacred texts. Instead of an emotionally unstable bully with strange rules and a hang-up on sexuality, let’s say we believe in a “god” form who is full of sensibility and boundaries. Perhaps we believe in a “god” who balances out the shameful with peace or a “god” who makes wrongs right through justice. If this god exists, I wager she doesn’t simply “forgive” an abuser… she seeks justice and peace.
5. I’ve had enough because… God wasn’t actually there.
Did God “watch” as I was molested repeatedly, against my will, by an older man who knew I was uncomfortable and scared? Did God “watch” as I reached out to trusted religious adults who shamed me further for “allowing” these abusive events to happen? Did God “watch” when I was almost raped by another older boy who was “well-liked” by the church community?
No. Stop it. God wasn’t “there.”
I was there.
So above all, let’s remember the survivor who was actually there... and rather than speaking for a being that did nothing, let’s turn our attention towards the survivors who are finding their voices. Let’s lend our ears to the survivors who are doing SOMETHING, by speaking out, finding a reason to trust, a reason to believe, and a reason to live.
Let’s try that, folks. Because I’ve had enough of hearing from ANYONE who speaks for God.
How about you? Had enough yet?
Namaste, my friends. Tread lightly, walk gently… you know a survivor. It’s time to pay attention and if you speak for anyone, speak for those who cannot speak for themselves.
PS. For more information about sexual assault, please check out RAINN.
Gail is an author, poet, blogger and activist whose book, Enlightened-ish chronicles her spiritual awakening experience after witnessing a suicide, grieving her father’s unexpected death and leaving a spiritual community. Her first book, “Coming Out of the Closet without Coming Apart at the Seams” was published in 2004. Gail has appeared in FOX DC News, SkyNews and Our America with Lisa Ling as an advocate for ex-gay survivors and young people. Her freelance work has appeared in God Allows U-Turns, Encounter Magazine, Blue Mountain Arts, and Outlook Weekly. “For Gail So Loved the World” is her blog, where she discusses spirituality, politics and social and emotional intelligence from a global perspective. Her spoken word pieces and drumming meditations are available on YouTube and she schedules private speaking engagements where these performances are shared. Gail is the only lesbian known to hold a Bachelor’s Degree from Cincinnati Christian University. Currently, Gail resides in the Washington, DC Area and serves her local community as the Executive Director of a nature-based early learning center.