When “Love your enemies” Means “Love your rapist”

I realize not all my readers are Christian.  Most abandoned Christianity when it seemed to support their abuser’s right to rape, molest, and domineer over them.

If you’ve read my story, you know I also gave up on God for a while.  

The Christian church has a way of strangling it’s followers into submission.  It draws a very fine, indiscernible path that no human can hope to follow.

Then, once you’ve inevitably fallen off, you’re told to forgive yourself, jump back on, and just keep going.  Whenever someone else knocks you off, just forgive them and move on.

Don’t think about it.  Don’t question it.  Don’t try to understand it.  Any and all exploring of the situation is classified as either doubt or sin, and expressly forbidden.

This leaves the Christian rape victim in an awkward spot.  We’re told to forgive the rapist.  Cuz, you know, “love your enemies”, then jump back on the bible bandwagon and act like your life didn’t just crumble.  If you show even a hint of dwelling or doubting, it’s because you don’t have enough faith that God is in control.

Look, I’m here to tell you Christian rape victims out there that the church has this all backwards.

Honestly, no matter what you’re healing from, the church has it all backwards.

In fact, the church has nearly everything backwards, but that’s a topic for a different blog.

As a rape victim, you’re going to obsess over a few key things:

Was it my fault?

This one is incredibly frustrating.  The church likes to say that immodesty, sinful actions (clubbing!), and immoral thoughts lead to consequences.  If you were raped, well, guess you weren’t moral enough!

The world takes it entirely opposite.  They claim even if you’re walking down the street butt-naked, pleading with a guy to take you, intoxicated til next Thursday, you did absolutely nothing wrong and the man who took advantage belongs in hell.

So, as a victim, you inevitably reach a dilemma.  Either you’re a Christian who is forced to believe it was your fault, or you abandon Christianity and believe nothing was your fault.

This leads to an internal struggle that ends up being 90% of a rape victim’s trauma.  At our inner most layer of understanding, we know neither side is telling us the truth.

There will always be a decision you could have made differently that would have prevented your attack.  Maybe if you hadn’t gone out drinking that day.  Or if you would’ve taken a different street home.  Or hadn’t invited him up.  Or never met him in the first place.

its-my-fault

Much to the chagrin of the world of victim’s advocacy, there was something you could have done to avoid being attacked.

However, none of those decisions would have prevented him from being a rapist.

Sorry, Christianity, but rape is not a punishment from God for not having enough faith.  Nor is it your fault that a man is a rapist.  Those kinds of men aren’t born in a split second.  They have deep-seated, ingrained personal issues that have been building long before they laid eyes on you.  Nothing you or your wardrobe did could have possibly transformed them into your divine punishment.

Is he a good guy, or a bad guy?

This may seem obvious to pretty much everyone, except a rape victim.

According to the church, everyone deserves God’s love, because everyone sins, and everyone is forgiven.

Everyone.  Including your rapist.  Therefore, the church’s conclusion is that your rapist is a good guy who needs love, compassion, and forgiveness.

The world would rather categorize him as a devil-worshiping heathen.  Someone deserving of no less than castration and an unceasing taste of his own medicine in prison.

Again, both sides have it wrong.

Yes, all people are forgiven by God.  Yes, God calls us to forgive others.  Yes, your rapist is one of those “others”.

But, God does not call us to forgive blindly and immediately.  Nor does He call us to ignore the pain that our rapist’s sin caused us.

He actually calls us to mourn with those who mourn, and comfort those in pain.  He did not forgive us blindly, nor immediately.

It took thousands of years before Christ was sent to earth.  And while He was here, He endured every pain known to man: betrayal, grief, loneliness, etc.  He did it perfectly, but He did experience it.

The world shoves any idea of forgiveness and understanding of a rapist under the rug.  He’s just labeled a bad guy and thrown away with the rest.

Even an inkling of trying to have compassion, or at the least understand where he’s coming from, is met with hate, condescending reprimands, and affirmations of his utter evilness.

Neither the church nor the world approaches this correctly, either.

Acknowledging the pain your rapist caused you is not the same as refusing to forgive him.  Forgiveness is not denial.

Forgiveness is the acknowledgement of evil, and understanding that you are no more qualified to receive mercy than another.

Similarly, it will never set right with a victim in the world where the answer is, “he’s a bad guy, and you’re a good girl.”

You know, deep down, that you’re not 100% innocent.  Not just with your rape situation, but with life in general.  You’re not a perfect person.  Just like your rapist wasn’t a perfect person.

The final 10% of your healing trauma, after realizing it’s not your fault, is trying to reconcile how you’re an imperfect blameless person, but he is an imperfect blamed person.

Your only peace will come through forgiveness, but forgiveness will only come through acknowledging your pain.  You have to both acknowledge neither one of you is perfect, but also realize he caused you pain.  Pain that must be explored, examined, and understood before you can truly understand why and how to forgive him.

Ok, but “loving my enemy” is going too far

Christianity will try to tell you to love your rapist, because he’s your enemy, and we’re supposed to love our enemies.

The world tells us to hate our enemy.  They deserve nothing more.  They were in the wrong.

Now, here’s where you will finally find the healing you’re struggling for.

Your enemy is not your rapist.

Your enemy is the enemy.

The enemy is the devil.  More specifically, the enemy is pride, control, lust, envy, lying, and fear.

God does not call us to love those things.  In fact, He calls us to hate those things.  They are the culmination of all things sinful.

So, when God calls you to love your enemy, He’s calling you to love those who have done you wrong.

Yes, like your rapist.

But, He’s not calling you to love the parts of him that caused him to rape you.  He’s not calling you to love the fact that he is depraved and lustful.  He’s not calling you to ignore the glaring sinful nature and pretend it’s all bright and shiny.

No, He’s calling you to study reality.

And, here’s the reality

A broken, imperfect, sinful man raped you.

You, a broken, imperfect woman, were raped.

There are good sides to him, just as there are bad sides to you.

None of those realities means you deserved to be his victim, and none of those realities means you made perfect decisions.

None of those realities means you should ignore his imperfections in the name of forgiveness, and none of those realities means you should withhold forgiveness because you, too, have imperfections.forgive

You were raped.  By him.  He did wrong.  You have also done wrong.  You are both in need of God’s grace.

The fact that you both need grace does not mean you passively excuse the pain against you because you have sinned against others.  It’s not a, “hey, everyone messes up, no big deal.”

Christ died for your sins.  They are a big deal.

The pain he caused you is a big deal.  Rape is a big deal.  Forgiveness is a big deal.  It’s all a very, very big deal.

Yes, you are called to love your enemies, but you are not called to ignore signs of the enemy.  Forgiveness is not ignorance.  Nor is denial of your own imperfections “healing”.

Nearly all the trauma associated with rape is caused by the incessant questions after the fact.  Questions that neither the church nor the world have answered adequately.

If you desire healing- true healing- then stop trying to force yourself to accept incorrect answers.  It only leads to an inner turmoil that causes stress, depression, and countless other problems.

You cannot heal without God, but you also cannot heal surrounded by simplistic Christians who misunderstand forgiveness.

You cannot heal without acknowledging his sins, but you also cannot heal surrounded by simplistic advocates who define people as worse or better than others.

Take the reigns of your own healing process.  Ask tough questions, dig for answers, and understand that well-intentioned people don’t really have them.

I finally feel like I’ve reached the end of my healing journey.  And only because now I understand why it was so damn complicated to begin with.

I encourage you to start searching.  Explore all the questions and doubts you have.  No matter what the Bible-thumper or athiest advocate may have to say about it.

You will only find true healing once you’ve sifted through all the static.

 

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3 Comments Add yours

  1. Hi Freelancer, I replied to tour comment on my blog yesterday but not sure you saw that so want to reply here as well. -You get it. This blog is right on the money. There is a time to grieve and a time to heal, only you and the Lord can discern the time and depth of either of these. Forgiveness is crucial to the healing process, not for the sake of the perp, but for your own sake. Forgiveness destroys the power of the enemy of our souls to continue hurting us with the offense. The Lord doesn’t tell us to “get over it and move on” the church does and that’s wrong. The Lord invites us to walk with him through the pain until we find ourselves on the other side of it, looking back and saying; “wow, I didn’t think I could ever get here again, but I feel loved and whole again, thank you for meeting me where I was and sticking by me.” I we do that for others, then we are the true church, then we are truly setting hearts free. Keep up the good fight, I am blessed by being on this journey with you.

    Liked by 2 people

    1. Exactly! I’ve gotten nothing but backlash from the support groups I’ve shared it with. Almost every person says the church played a role in their trauma. It makes me heartbroken because thathurt from the church has alienated them from the only way to truly heal. That said, you are the only one responsible for your spiritual walk, and can’t blame a church for messing it up for you. Those painful moments can also be the defining moment in our search for truth. It makes the verses about giving thank in hard times make much more sense. It’s not because we should minimize our situation or pain, it’s because the pain we are experiencing has so much power to teach us.

      Liked by 2 people

      1. My mother’s husband (now ex husband) was the youth pastor and a rapist – a wolf in shepherd’s clothing. His whole family had been at the church for decades. I was pressured into “forgiveness”, but the incidents continued, even when our family followed him as he became the youth pastor at another church, until I graduated high school. I pressed charges as an adult. My mother sat with his family at the trial, and she returned to the original church.

        Thankfully, there were actual godly people at the second church who didn’t even know that they were helping me keep the faith. When the story broke on the local news, I received a flood of support from many Christians from both churches.

        I appreciate that you have called attention to these flaws in thinking. I still haven’t forgiven him, but I have begun to forgive my mom.

        Liked by 2 people

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