For Ears That Hear

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UPDATE: Leadership Journal has officially removed the post. My heart is singing. I am stunned, and surprised, and beyond grateful that the powers that be heard the outcry of survivors and supporters this week.

Leadership Journal has posted an unreserved apology to their readers and made a commitment to give voice to survivors in the future. You can read their full apology here.

Thank you, Leadership Journal. Thank you. 

For Ears That Hear

TW: Rape, Abuse

They will not take down the post. I knew it even as I joined the chorus of voices last night demanding they #TakeDownThatPost. I joined the chorus anyway because I have a voice and my voice matters and even if they will not heed it, I will not be silenced. So I will join with other voices, even if they will not hear us. They will not #TakeDownThatPost, because they don’t have too. They believe it is their right to publish rape apologism and contribute to rape culture. They believe they are doing a service to their audience by warning them about how their life might be destroyed if they rape or abuse someone.

I want to scream.

I want to yell.

I want to wail.

I want to stand on couches or chairs or tables and shout about how WRONG this is.

If your method of cultivating leaders involves warning them about how their life will be fucked up if they engage in abuse {AND NOT THAT THEY WILL BE FUCKING UP THE LIVES OF THE PEOPLE THEY ABUSE} then you’re doing it wrong. 

And it hurts me. It hurts me that those are the leaders Leadership Journal is choosing to cultivate.

True leaders do not view the loss of ministry in light of abuse as a consequence. They view it as justice.

 

My pastor in high school was a true leader.

I was not raped by a youth leader. I was not groomed and preyed upon by someone in authority.

But I had a boyfriend. And he raped me.

After our relationship ended I was left devastated and ashamed. Purity culture had taught me he couldn’t help himself. Purity culture taught me our shortcomings in sexual purity were my fault. It didn’t matter that I hadn’t wanted too. It didn’t matter that I’d said no. It mattered that it happened anyway and that I hadn’t been “strong” enough to stop him. And I bore that shame and that guilt for months after our break up in silence.

After I found out he was bragging about our physical relationship to his friends I was ANGRY.

“Did he tell you about the times I cried?”

“Did he tell you how I begged him to stop?”

“Did he tell you I threw up?”

I asked them.

He hadn’t.

“Morgan, if you told him no, then, then he raped you.”

“But he loved me. People don’t rape people they love.”

“But you told him no? You asked him to stop?”

“Yes.”

“Then Morgan, he raped you.”

 

What took me months to accept took my pastor only days to act upon.

Both my ex and I were still in youth group. Both my ex and I served as student leaders. Both my ex and I served on the worship team in both youth group and church. I was worried that I would be punished for what happened once people found out.

My pastor called me into his office when he was made aware of the situation.

I was terrified.

But he didn’t start with questions, He didn’t make me speak. He started by telling me about his wife. He told me about her first boyfriend. He told me about how she was manipulated, coerced, threatened, and forced into performing sexual acts she didn’t desire. And I cried.

I cried and I told him my story.

I told him every encounter.

I told him every insult.

I told him every threat.

I told him every pleading conversation where I begged my boyfriend to stop. Where I begged us to stop.

He told me it wasn’t my fault. I didn’t believe him. But I wanted too. So I began what is still an ongoing journey towards healing and wholeness.

 

Two days later my pastor called my ex into a meeting. He asked my ex to give an account.

My ex told him he thought I wanted it.

My ex told him there were times I was pleased or aroused or times I didn’t say no.

My ex told him he was “just guiding me”.

My ex refused to take responsibility for his actions and his behavior.

My pastor responded by having my ex removed from ministry. And then, my pastor (God bless him), told my ex that this church was to be a safe place for me and that he was no longer allowed on the church property or at any youth group sponsored events.

My pastor was a true leader.

My pastor believed me even when so many others in the church did not.

My pastor took a stand for my healing, safety, and well being, and he was condemned for it.

But even in the face of harsh criticism, of accusations of gracelessness, my pastor did not waiver. He stood at my side when even I wasn’t on my side.

My pastor was a true leader.

 

I hope soon and very soon more true leaders will stand up in our churches.

More true leaders will call abuse, abuse.

More true leaders will call rape, rape.

More true leaders will not only stand with survivors but will share THEIR STORIES.

More true leaders will emerge and say “when the unthinkable happened here, this is what we did to ensure it would not happen again” {Which in any case of Child Sexual Abuse or Statutory Rape includes reporting it to the police}.

 

I know that all my hoping, and all of my shouting, and all of my wailing may not be enough to make all churches or even most churches a safe place for survivors.

So while I wait, and hope, and shout, and wail, and cry, and pray, I will be a safe person.

I will read and listen to the stories of survivors and I will hear them and I will believe them.

I will share my own story and use my own voice when it is to the benefit of my healing or the healing of another.

I will continue to call out rape apology and rape culture until the Church understands what it is and that it exists.

I will continue to demand that Leadership Journal #TakeDownThatPost.

I will continue to use my voice for those with ears to hear.

 

Below are stories and responses from other survivors.

My Innocence Was Stolen From Me hosted by @micahjmurray

Leadership Journal, Christianity Today, and #TakeDownThatPost by @virtusetveritas

Why Did A Journal for Christian Pastors Give a Platform to a Sexual Predator by @haettinger and @bookbeaut

 

 

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