Before you proceed, please be aware this is a very difficult read about the effects of spiritual abuse and childhood sexual abuse.
June 3, 2023
I’ve thought a lot about what should be in Part II and chose to give myself time as the content worked itself through and began to write itself out in my mind. That is my process. And no matter how many times I wonder what I will say, I always end up having something to say. There is always something triggering, some event or some information which makes it imperative I sit at my laptop and get it all out. The revelations, the epiphanies, the content always comes, just as sure as one day follows the next.
Nothing is hidden in the end, with me. It all comes boiling up and out. I often wonder if that’s a good thing, or if it’s more harmful to sense it, to recognize it, to acknowledge it and to then be forced to push through the pain of reliving it. Are these horrors better left just beyond knowing in the far recesses of my conscious mind? Today, re-experiencing the pain of spiritual abuse, psychological abuse, physical abuse, and sexual abuse, I really don’t know the answer to that question. Today, it’s rather all a bit too much to bear. And yet, I will bear it. And I will push past it. I always do, just as sure as one day follows the next.
This morning, I stumbled across the documentary Shiny Happy People: Duggar Family Secrets. I had been unaware of the connection the Duggar’s have to Bill Gothard’s Institute in Basic Life Principles (IBLP). Within minutes, I realized these were doctrines and teachings that were embraced by Open Door Baptist Church in Lynnwood, Washington, the church that taught me to dutifully submit to repeated victimization in the name of Jesus. To say I was horrified to make the connection is an understatement.
I was conditioned to believe if I could just be a good girl, respect my parents, respect adults, do what I was told, do what I was taught, my life would be without suffering. But no matter how hard I tried to follow the rules, which were uncertain and constantly shifting, I suffered. I suffered immensely.
There’s a tremendous amount of shame, even now, in the knowing I went along with it all. I submitted to all of it willingly, consciously, earnestly, and with all my might. I stupidly believed the lies. I should have known better. Even now, as an adult, I am ashamed I didn’t figure out it was bad theology. I might not have been sophisticated enough to sort through the theological stuff, but it just wasn’t logical. I knew that even then. It didn’t hold muster. But I wanted to believe. So, I chose to override my gut. Over time, I overrode my instincts so often, I no longer trusted them.
No one escapes suffering. Of course, I know that now. But it was during my adolescence all this was happening. I doubt many will deny junior high is a hell all its own. But I truly believed I was the only girl experiencing such profound pain. I really believed it was just me, and I was the only one that couldn’t quite get it right. There had to be some magic to it that I just couldn’t get a hold of. And that made me incredibly sad. But more than that, I was furious with myself for my rebelliousness. If only I could do better, be more obedient, submissive, compliant, things would be better. None of those personality traits come naturally.
It was only recently, I mean within the last couple of weeks, the realization formed in my mind, “My father was a pedophile.” I was surprised it had never occurred to me previously. Even after writing “That day I died inside” detailing how he had preyed upon a very young girl at a church outing, I still didn’t string those words together.
My father was a pedophile.
And I was not his only victim. He groomed many young girls. Many. Many instances I witnessed firsthand, many involving my childhood friends. I think he only doubled down on me, but perhaps that’s wishful thinking. The intent was always there, hidden in plain view. No one else acknowledged it but it was apparent to me. His intent was always to subdue, to subvert, and to harm girls. Girls and women. He hated women.
My father was a misogynist.
Everything he was, was supported by fundamentalist Christian teachings.
I remember in my 30s, yes, my 30s!!! I was given a book by my Christian counselor called The Restoration of Men by Karl Duff. I wanted desperately to embrace the concepts. I wanted to be a godly woman, a Proverbs woman. I was still trying so hard to be a good girl so that God might reward me with a Christian husband. In my 30s!
I’ve thought about buying the book again, but it will just sicken me to reread. I don’t need to revisit that experience. I remember not being able to read it all the way through the first time. There was a chapter on how fathers should “court” their daughters in order to teach them how they should expect to be treated by men. It triggered memories of my father grooming me using the same tactics outlined in the book. The message seemed to be that fathers own their daughter’s bodies and are biblically entitled to do what they will with them. Since that was my experience, it sickened me. That was one time I followed my gut and destroyed the book. One time. But I kept trying! I wanted the prize! I wanted the life God promised every obedient follower!
In listening to the podcasts on deconstruction, I’ve learned a bit about the prosperity gospel. I always thought the term meant if you’re tithing, God will bless you with financial wealth. (And since I’ve never tithed consistently, that must be why I’m stuck at upper middle class. As if that were a bad thing. Hmmm.)
Matthew 7:9-11 is often used as supporting scripture:
“Which of you, if your son asks for bread, will give him a stone?Or if he asks for a fish, will give him a snake? If you, then, though you are evil, know how to give good gifts to your children, how much more will your Father in heaven give good gifts to those who ask him!”
Here’s the thing. Prayers aren’t always answered. In fact, prayers aren’t often answered. In fact, prayers overwhelmingly go unanswered. Furthermore, how does one define “good gifts”?
I recently heard this damaging “name it and claim it” doctrine explained as a transactional view of Christianity. If I do this, God will do this. Quid pro quo. Christianity is not some sort of reward system. You don’t get gold stars on the chore chart taped to God's Refrigerator if you do what is expected of you according to a set of rules the white patriarchy has managed to twist from scripture. God’s grace is unmerited, unearned. You do nothing to get it. And everyone has it. Basic God Stuff 101. I didn’t get it for a long time, but I get it now. And it has freed me.
So, I’m a bit all over the place here. But I’m going to get this up. It’s good stuff, important stuff, I only hope it helps someone who has suffered as I have to know you didn’t suffer alone. There are billions of us who have fallen prey to the mindfuck of the Christian church. And it’s time to call out the bullshit and get back to Basic God Stuff 101: God is Love.