10 Reasons Why Sexual Assault Thrives in the Church

"Baby Temptress" cartoon by nakedpastor David Hayward
“Baby Temptress” cartoon by nakedpastor David Hayward

10 Reasons Why Sexual Assault Thrives in the Church

1. The Bible assigns women and children as the property of men.
2. Since men are the head of the house and all things, their needs are priority.
3. It’s biblically instituted that women are to be temptresses and stumbling blocks.
4. Sexual sin is shameful, therefore buried and denied.
5. It’s explicit that women are to remain silent, so no reporting.
6. Women can’t be trusted, so don’t believe them.
7. Absolutely everything is to be forgiven and forgotten.
8. Repentance fixes everything.
9. Reconciliation with offenders is not just compulsory but noble.
10. The church refuses to evict anyone with power.

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20 Replies to “10 Reasons Why Sexual Assault Thrives in the Church”

  1. Citations needed for each one of these points otherwise none of them can be taken seriously and any claim could be made about false representation with equal validity to each of the points.

    However if the point you are making is that abuses happen because of evil happening in the church with false teaching and a particular interpretation that is not in keeping with love and grace but rampant oppressive domination then yes, absolutely that does happen and it is the responsibility within the church to address it when it does.

    False teaching – something that the bible shows the apostle Paul addressing in his letters. For example whishing some men would go away and castrate themselves because of what they were demanding!

  2. ” Abuse can happen under the guise of teaching that is not false as well.” Well – again unsupported assertions make for weak arguments. Without a citations or evidence for your claims then what you have is opinion.

    What you have done that is consistent with a hermeneutic of suspicion is not an invalid approach but your theology is invalid if it is defensive when challenged and doesn’t challenge other theologies.

    I’m sorry, opinion isn’t a strong challenge. Anyone can express an opposing opinion without any support for their opinion ant it be just as valid. then we are into polemical adversity and getting on high horses with what is akin to high school playground behaviour.

    Looking at how things go in American politics and what seems to be happening in the American church to what degree is that representative of mature debate with love and grace and to what extent playground behaviour and polemical adversity? Being the most powerful nation in the world, what happens in the USA has knock on effects with everyone else as long as the power is held.

    Didn’t Obama say recently that the USA had forfeited the right to be considered the world leader?

    Maybe he has a point.

  3. I think #10 bothers me most. Here in the US, a pastor may be removed by the board after multiple sexual misconducts. Got that.

    But then… if he ‘starts a new work of God’ a year or two later, he will find some level of success. For example, the case of Mark Driscoll.

    And… if he goes into politics… I would offer that the White Evangelical Church would turn a blind eye to his sexual misconducts. After all, he said ‘he repented’, and now, he is just working in the community as politician, and he represents more power for the White Evangelical Church. Example: our President.

  4. Jack:
    1. Who stole the gold from the city of Ai? Why were the children killed? Joshua 7

    2. Who rules over whom? It begins in Genesis when God says to Eve: “You will suffer terribly when you give birth. But you will still desire your husband, and he will rule over you.” Even though this is a story-form, the message is still rather clear.

    And, as I recall, you debated the equality principles taught in the Letter to the Galatians. If we remove the Book of Galatians from our consideration, then the principles of equality become very faint echoes in the Bible.

    We are left with Jesus telling his male disciples to not ‘rule like lords’ but to ‘become servants’. And that ‘the least among you is the greatest in the kingdom’. That is not an equality verse, but a service verse.

    3. Male prostitutes are only mentioned once in the bible. II Kings 27. I just did a key word search… all other mentions of prostitutes are women. And… last I checked… calling a woman ‘Jezebel’ is still loaded with evil connotations and sexual seduction insults. Check out Jezebel in I and II Kings… but also in Rev 2 (which is where the insult really comes from).

    Jack: I find it odd that you do not know the Bible’s stories. I thought you were well versed at the University level in Bible stories.

    I think you are arguing hermeneutics. Which, in the US, does not appeal to the White Evangelicals. They abandoned reasoning long ago.

    They worship power.

  5. David – I’m sorry I didn’t mean anything I wrote to result in you being offended.

    I don’t think what I did was schoolground behaviour and I don’t understand why you are making this personal.. I see you think it was and that you feel you have made good points. I could come back with rebuttal but as this is your blog I will respect your wishes and follow your direction.

    Caryn – your assumption is that I don’t know the bible’s stories. I don’t know why you have made this personal either or why you would make that assumption. Do you have problem with what I said about citations needed if points are to be taken seriously? If that is the case then why did you say there was a need for a citation when I quoted a figure recently otherwise my point wouldn’t be taken seriously?

    You would be correct in thinking I am arguing hermeneutics, as is David. Again his argument is consistent with hermeneutic of suspicion – a valid approach. As a believer perhaps your approach would be consistent with a hermeneutic of faith. In a context where a hermeneutic argument is being made, it is relevant to make a hermeneutical argument. If what you say is true about white evangelicals abandoning reason and they are responsible for abuses of women then one way to defeat such oppression would be to engage with reason, show up the follow of the abandonment of reason and with a strong argued point act in a manner to empower those that would otherwise use their power to oppress, thereby doing what is conducive to the release of the oppressed.

    I always treat when someone make a claim that the bible is clear on something with suspicion. It seems you want to quote the “rules over” to support the argument made that the bible is a reason why there is sexual assault in the church.

    For sure, if taken literally, what has men ruling over women got anything to do with the kind of freedom from oppression that Jesus talks of? Taken another way, this verse in context can be understood to mean that as a result of what both Ada and Eve did there were equal consequences. But experiencing fear, pain and adversity between them and blame. The “desire” that Eve has can be understood as a desire to control Adam and the “rule” Adam has can also be understood to be about a compulsion to control.

    It seems that you have the perfect pretext with your understanding to then go and “dominate with equality” the white evangelical church in the USA. It surprises me that as a believer you should have such a low value of the bible in this regard. I would suggest that pushing back against patriarchal oppression would be to challenge the argument commonly made in evangelical circles that the bible advocates patriarchy with Adam ruling over Eve. I would suggest no – not at all and that the bible taken in its entirety can be understood to come against oppression in whatever form it takes.

  6. My apologies “to empower those that would otherwise use their power to oppress” should read “to DISempower those that would otherwise use their power to oppress”

  7. Hmmmm… Jack. Of course you know the bible stories. I recall you studied hermeneutics.

    And, I have what is called a “high view” of the Bible – stories are interpreted as stories, poetry as poetry, commands as commands, and so forth.

    Because I view the Bible as having principles that radiate into culture, I have little trouble with the Bible and being a believer.

    You asked for citations, and I gave you but a few.

    Your turn.

  8. Again Caryn – not sure why you being personal and trying to make this about me. I don’t remember saying I studied hermeneutics. You talked about me being sexually abused as a child but again I don’t remember saying anything about that and I wasn’t. And more recently you talked of me “honourably resigning” then after discussing things with me that you concluded rather it was an “unfair dismissal”. Anyone with internet access can have a look around and find out what the difference between hermeneutic of suspicion and a hermeneutic of faith is. I could talk about me and my experience but I don’t want this to be about me.

    I aske David for citations, not you. And you wrongly recalled that I “debated the equality principles taught in the Letter to the Galatians.” Again, the point I would make about Gal 3:28 is not to see that as being about an argument for “equality” (for example women in leadership) but that it is possible to be part of the body of Christ for everyone and that you don’t have to be male/Jew/free for that. I find the argument being made for “a woman can do what a man can do” to be weak based on this and there are better arguments to be made from scripture for women in leadership.

    On the point of citations. I put forward a case for an approach based on “freedom from oppression that Jesus talks of” – it would be a simple case of quoting the verse and context. I assumed that you wouldn’t need that to get what the point was. Was I wrong in that assumption?

    I would invite you to engage with the view I have expressed about defeating oppression by engaging with reason resulting in the disempowering of those that oppress and the freeing of the oppressed.

  9. Well said David. As a woman who’s been around church for more than 50 years I absolutely agree with your assertion and all 10 points. Church culture justified by biblical themes. My role as a woman has been made crystal clear to me. Funnily enough it was only after I left the church that I could finally relate to that damn much-quoted Proverbs 31 woman and “laugh at the days to come”. Sadly I lived with the heavy weight of knowing no matter how hard I tried, I never really truly measured up. The ideal was ridiculously high.

    I remember a pastor’s wife saying when a couple come for counsel she dismisses what the one “who drags the other along” says because they are obviously “being controlling”, and it is “usually the wife doing the dragging”.

    I know of a beautiful young woman who was part of a prayer room who was asked to leave by the governing body because she complained the three middle-aged men on the prayer team were saying highly inappropriate things about her body, and the men’s wives suggested she should leave for everyone’s sake! These are recent examples.

    That’s the thing that makes me feel so angry now. As women, we were trained to maintain our own suppression. Women policed the rules so men just needed to remind us here and there! Outside support such as psychologists and counselors are seen to be ungodly and full of “the wisdom of men” and anyone who sees someone is treated with suspicion. It’s a minefield in there, especially for pastor’s wives! I’m so glad the spotlight is currently being shone on the sexual abuses perpetrated in churches.

    In Australia at the moment there is an investigation into domestic violence by clergy, and “ministry wives” are beginning to come forward and describe the bible college that trained them to be good wives, and the way their husbands used scripture to justify hideous abuse. The same men who are warm and charismatic in the pulpit. I’m thinking it’s the tip of another ice berg and I’m celebrating that finally the truth is coming out


  10. From the link Shazza provided, “Adelaide’s Anglican Assistant Bishop Tim Harris says, “it is well recognised that males (usually) seeking to justify abuse will be drawn to misinterpretations [of the Bible] to attempt to legitimise abhorrent attitudes.””

    Thoughts anyone?

  11. Thanks David – that helps some way to me understanding where you are coming from with what you mentioned before with your view – “abuse can happen under the guise of teaching that is not false”. If what you say is true then the bible condones abuse against women. I have her that argument made with the rape of Tamar and Lot saying not to rape the men but offered the women when men came to do so at Sodom.

    I agree with you to the event that given it was written 2000 years (and more) by men of their time, this ought to be taken into account when interpreting the bible. Therefore again I would argue that the ” he will rule over you” with Adam over Eve is not a precedent for patriarchy as some would say, but something that happened as a result of “the fall” and therefore one should look to how it was like before that and see what was “good” in order to have an appropriate application of the bible.

    On the issue of the rape of Tamar and Lot with women being raped, I would look t this similarly. I would argue that this is a report of events, not a condoning of them, just as with a report of a rape on the news, it not following that news channel approves of rape.

    So to say the bible sanctions abuse at times and that it is not about misinterpretation is to show a low view of the bible. A high view of the bible might be to look at how those that have conducted themselves inappropriately have been addressed and where for example there comes the point that I alluded to earlier where Jesus talked of providing release for the oppressed.

    Love is not going to insist on one point of view over the other and grace is costly otherwise it can’t truly be called grace.


  13. Stan, that’s an interesting comment.

    Salvation doesn’t seem to have been looked at as either needed or being about total well being in accusations.

    Yes, little or no consideration has been given to salvation and trust in a merciful God when accusations have been made towards the church. The theologian Mary Daly has described sin and salvation as “patriarchal myths” that ought to be “castrated” and that “Jesus is an impossible role – model for women”.

    It seems she has not been without influence here.

  14. Donna,

    I’m just curious.

    In the link you gave the description of your group of Christian feminists it says “No Republicans… the male perspective is not welcome… No humanism… We are inclusive Christians but still Christians.” So inclusive as long as you are a woman, Christian, Democrat and don’t give any male perspective.

    Therefore it’s an exclusive group that segregates with others that don’t fir the requirements you have set for group membership.


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