The Fundamentalist Christian Mindfuck - Part I
April 7, 2023
Before you proceed, please be aware this is a very difficult read about the effects of spiritual abuse and childhood sexual abuse.
I’ve been listening to a podcast titled The Rise and Fall of Mars Hill. I’m starting to realize how much of my lifelong struggles with depression, self-esteem, and shame are rooted in the spiritual abuse I experienced as an adolescent at Open Door Baptist Church in Lynnwood, Washington.
Let me go back to the beginning.
From birth, literally birth, I’ve been taught about Jesus. Jesus loves me. Jesus is my savior. But mostly, Jesus is watching. My mother recounts how whenever she was tempted to do something bad as a child, she saw a picture of Jesus in her mind and she didn’t do it. And that would be white Jesus, the portrait that hangs on her bedroom wall to this day.
In spite of all that, for as long as I can remember, I have felt God’s love and I can remember always loving Him back. I loved going to church with my grandparents, my mom’s parents, because they were the only ones that took me to church. I loved Sunday school. I loved it when I got to go to vacation Bible school in the summer at my other Grandma’s church, my Dad’s mom. (She was a trip. Future post all about that one, there.) The long and short of it was, I loved Jesus and I loved church.
I can remember as a very young child, perhaps as young as five, driving by a church and liking the looks of the building and asking my mom if I could go. She was obliging. She would find out when Sunday school was and drop me off in front. I don’t know how she found out the time, no internet, and she was deaf. Maybe the times were on a reader board out front. But she’d find out.
She’d drive up front and let me out of the car to go and find the classroom on my own. She’d instruct me to ask an adult to help me find my way. She wasn’t afraid to ask for help, and I learned not to be either. She’d carefully explain where I was to come out to meet her after class. It boggles my mind it played out that way. I can’t imagine, ever, not accompanying a child when she asked to be a part of something I believed in. But I was intelligent and capable, mature beyond my years, and that is how it happened.
At church, I learned, over and over and over and over and over, and a thousand more over’s, I had to ask Jesus into my heart in order to go to heaven. For a very long time I was good with that. Jesus and I were friends. Jesus loved me. I loved Jesus.
It wasn’t until I was a bit older the whole message took on a more sinister bent and the shame set in. Once the abuse started when I was seven, I realized I was a very bad girl, and I figured Jesus probably didn’t want to have anything to do with coming into my heart. So, I began to chase after Jesus like my life depended on it. Because my life depended on it.
Then about fourth grade, the Open Door Baptist Church phase commenced. Open Door was a independent Southern Baptist church headed up by Pastor Ken Blue. I used to fictionalize the names, but I don’t do that anymore. I call out what the people did there, I call it out by name. I don’t believe in hell, and I don’t like to harbor hate, but sometimes I do. And I hope Pastor Ken Blue, who headed up that mindfuck operation, is burning in hell. Fifty years later, still that much pain in me.
Goodness this is hard to write. I just decided this will be a series of posts. I can’t go much further down this path without it sending me into depression. It’s important I get this out, but it’s also important I protect my mental stability. So, bear with me here, this won’t go on much longer.
I developed early, I started my period when I was eleven. There are some evidence girls who are sexualized early develop early. I recall reading that but couldn’t find any support for that on the internet. I did find a lot of studies which cover the psychological impact of early sexualization on women. Basically, girls learn to see themselves as sex objects before they develop a healthy sense of who they are as whole individuals. It changes everything about the way they interact with the world.
I can remember Pastor Blue preaching on Isaiah 64:6:
“But we are all as an unclean thing, and all our good works are as filthy rags; and we all fade as a leaf; and our iniquities, like the wind, have taken us away.”
Pastor Blue began to rail on us sinners. He then said:
“Our good works are like filthy rags — FILTHY MENSTRUAL RAGS.”
I felt I’d been kicked in the stomach. I felt like I might vomit. My face flushed, my heart raced, and I felt a shame I had never felt before. Not only was my father doing something to me for which I had no real comprehension, no words to explain, but I was menstruating. And God considered me a dirty Kotex.
The message hit me especially hard, since my father had recently scolded me for using too many Kotex. They were expensive and I needed to be more careful and wear them longer, until they were really soaked with blood.
So that will be enough for today, then.
Photo by Alexander Grey on Unsplash