Me, You, Church, and Donald J. Trump: How This is More Than Politics
*content note: I will talk about sexual assault. I will use gross words. I will talk about church and abuse, and it will be raw. Gird yourself, or, if you’d rather, go take a hot bath or something.
My loves…I don’t normally write about politics. I mean, I write Facebook comments (some of them long) about politics, but I don’t write about politics. Until today.
If you know me, you know I was sexually assaulted in 2015. If you’ve read my book, you know I was sexually abused by a boyfriend/fiancee 1 when I was 18 and at Christian college. If you have heard me talk, ever, at all, you know I have a keen eye on rape culture, and a deep and driving desire to heal society, women and men, people of all genders, so we can change the way we relate to each other. I believe we must offer healing to survivors of assault as well as those who perpetrate it. That we need to learn empathy and compassion so we can change the prevalence of sexual assault and abuse. These things, you probably know.
What many of you may not know, because I don’t discuss it very much publicly, is how my sexual assault and abuse experiences were excused, minimized, and doubted by the Evangelical Christian leaders who were around me at those times. You may not know my latest experience of assault was most painful because it forced me to leave a church I loved and had grown up in for most of my life (not for the first time, mind you, but for certain, the last). It led to me leaving a place where I ministered and loved and worshipped because they didn’t know how to handle what happened to me. They didn’t understand how being sexually assaulted can happen to anybody. That it wasn’t my fault. That I wasn’t asking for it. That I didn’t need to “be restored” into leadership because I HAD NOT DONE ANYTHING WRONG IN THE FIRST PLACE. That lack of understanding led me to get out of there because it wasn’t healthy. I miss them. I still mourn that loss.
If you have seen my Facebook wall in the last three days, you’ve seen a lot of reaction about Donald Trump’s “grab them by the pussy” and “you can do whatever you want” comments. A lot. Even for me.
Since the whole thing came out about The Donald and his flippant and horrifying (but not surprising — let’s be real, here) comments, I’ve been trying to understand exactly what it is that has driven itself do deep into my heart about it. What is it that makes this feel like a ripping open of a wound that is still healing — and probably will be healing forever? What is it that makes my heart beat faster, my lungs feel like they’re being crushed by a weight, and my stomach clench? What is it?
It’s nuanced. It’s not just about sexual assault. This is a topic about which I freely talk, and one with which I feel pretty solid discussing. I am, as I mentioned, healing, and healing well. It’s not just the assault stuff. It isn’t just the crass, objectifying, disgusting way he talks about women (seriously, we’ve known he was insanely misogynistic and demeaning since the first time we ever heard him talk, which was before I was born).
What makes me feel re-traumatized, re-stigmatized, re-silenced…it’s the defense of this man’s comments. It’s the way I get the sense that a lot of Evangelical Christian people — leaders and otherwise — are more offended by the language he used in his comments than they are by the content of his words. The people, who supposedly hold the moral high ground, who consistently back this guy up by saying he isn’t as bad as the alternative (claiming, exasperatingly, that Hillary has personally killed 6 people or some such nonsense), or he will ensure a conservative supreme court, or…you know what? I’m tired of listing these examples…frankly, anything they say to defend this asshole is utter and complete and total bullshit. And if you are a Christian, I’m not sorry I just said bullshit. That’s what it is. Straight up. If you are a Christian who currently or has in the past supported Trump, you claim to want someone who “tells it like it is.” Well. Here I am. Telling you like it is. THIS IS BULLSHIT. If you support Trump, and you are a Christian, you are wrong.
Even so, let me say this. I still love you. I still get that you are human. I understand your political impulses and your willingness to look past this and other atrocious things he has done and said. I grew up listening to Rush Limbaugh every single day of my childhood, homeschooled and indoctrinated into hating feminazis and especially into thinking the Clintons were basically the Devil incarnate. I heard about Vince Foster’s supposed fake suicide. I heard all the beginnings of the media’s constant hate of Hillary Clinton. I heard it all, internalized it all…I get it. I know where it comes from. I don’t think you’re a bad person. I think you’re complicit in a very dirty system. I think you choose to ignore things that create cognitive dissonance for you and so you blindly go along with a political agenda that completely uses you as a tool and doesn’t actually get you what you want anyway. I think you haven’t considered whether what you think you want is what Jesus would recommend or do or condone in the first place. Given that he was a radical who purposely refused to get into a position of political power, whose teaching focused on the state of one’s heart, and who suggested it would be easier for the rich man to get through the eye of a needle than to get into the kingdom of heaven, I just don’t think he’s on the same page with you on the Donald Trump thing.
That aside. What this is really about is how the church is complicit in rape culture. I saw someone say that we shouldn’t get all up in arms about Donald Trump’s words because they were “just a little fantasy.”
After I regurgitated my tongue, and woke up from my horror-induced coma, I suggested that these comments are not about fantasy. They are about entitlement to women’s bodies. They are about dismissing the humanity and autonomy of women. They are not harmless locker room talk.
What I’ve seen from Christians is more upsetting. “Bill Clinton did worse.” A) He isn’t running for president. B) THAT DOES NOT MAKE WHAT DONALD TRUMP DOES AND SAYS OK.
When Christians make excuses for people who blatantly dismiss, objectify, traumatize and denigrate half of God’s creation, they are complicit in rape culture. When Christians refuse to take an ethical stand and draw the line to say these comments are absolutely beyond the pale, unacceptable, unpalatable, reprehensible, they are complicit in rape culture. When Christians insist that, even now (not that we haven’t had clues all along, mind you), he is still somehow the lesser of two evils, they are complicit in rape culture.
This is the pain for me. This refusal of the people who claim to be God’s people — the people who are building the kingdom of heaven — to stand up and recognize the insidious, ubiquitous, constant acceptance of sexual assault and rape, in word and in deed (heck, I seem to recall Jesus talking about “if you do it in your mind, you did it for real, yo”)…this refusal negates your claims of love. It makes the church the last place on earth people will go to for healing. It makes it OK for your men to sexually harm women. It makes it impossible for women to have standing. It breaks my heart, and I dare say, breaks the heart of God.
This is more than politics, guys. I’ve never said not to vote for someone because they are evil. I have never come close. But right now, I’m saying it. The church has to stop letting itself be used as a Republican tool, especially now. The church is way, way bigger than that. At least, I hope it is. It should be.