Imagewe’ve all heard the comments made after learning about a rape, especially when on a campus. things like; well, did you see the way she was dressed? what did she expect to happen? or there’s no way he would do that without just cause, she must have said yes. in my line of work, i see it happen all the time, non-victims blaming victims, and worse, victims blaming themselves.

as a victim/survivor myself, i can personally attest to the guilt and shame that many victims feel. if only i would have screamed, “NO!” and pushed him off me. i would often think to myself. for years i carried around not only the shame of experiencing childhood sexual abuse, but also the shame i believed it to cause my family.

as a young girl growing up, i believed i held all the dirtiness in my body. it was me who brought the darkness over my family, it was me who caused the dissension of my family. i believed what happened to me happened because of some innate, dirty gene i had been given.

after having gone through years of therapy, and spending countless hours with my nose in self-help books, i know the shame i felt isn’t isolated. i know many of the men and women who have experienced sexual violence on a personal level feel the same way. i also know that our society is the blame.

in america, we believe we have the power to do anything, be anything. all you need to do in the land of opportunity, is put your mind to something and do it! so, we send the message to women, work on not getting raped by [insert some action] in articles floating around social media rather than focusing on teaching others not to rape, not to oppress, and not to be violent.

i have played offense in the game of rape culture before. i can’t help but share those articles in hopes that my brothers and sisters never have to go through what one in four girls and one in six boys have to go through. but i worry that i am only perpetuating the idea that you can keep from getting raped by taking some action, when in reality, all you end up doing is being terribly anxious and not trusting anyone.

where does this idea come from? i dove into the bible to discover there was a world of hurt far greater than i could have imagined. a world where the stories of oppression are left open ended, with more and more oppression piled on top of them.

i sought out books and sermons on the oppression of women in the bible and zoned in on the ideology that many christian men and women stand firm on today: men are the supreme head of the household. women must remain silent and obey. with a heavy heart, i poured my fears out to my Father in prayer, pleading with Him to make sense of this message which so many of His children hold to be true.

fellow social media friends would post status updates linking to websites and articles reaffirming the messages that women should not lead men per God’s holy design. i wanted to put my hand through my computer screen and shake the women agreeing with these ignorant statements.

i continued to struggle with what i was reading in the bible. i couldn’t wrap my head around the pain and suffering my female ancestors where experiencing. what’s worse, is i couldn’t deal with some of the instructions god had apparently given in response to this suffering. this made me angry with God, which made me turn from God, which gave the enemy his in.

then, my spiritual mentor recommended a podcast by pastor greg boyd titled, “who’s the boss?” this sermon lit me up! finally, i had the revelation I was needing.

it reminded me once again that when i read the bible under the belief that their culture is our culture i am setting myself up to be angry. setting myself up to be angry with God, and that only gives the enemy the in he needs to destroy me. i must remember which culture these books were written in to understand God’s design. His perfect, healing, oneness, design for all His children.

since the fall we have blamed others for our problems. eve blamed the serpant for eating of the fruit, adam blamed eve, cain blamed abel and his father and so on and so forth. so, it should come as no surprise when biblical scholars blame the first recorded rape in the bible on the victim.

 gen 34 “one day dinah, the daughter of jacob and leah, went to visit some of the canaanite women. when shechem son of hamor the hivite, who was chief of the region, saw her, he took her and raped her.”

in my bible, this is written to explain the rape of dinah a bit further;

“when her {dinah’s} father, jacob, settled of a while near the city of shechem, she decided to go exploring, perhaps to find friends. in her youthful exuberance dinah ignored the dangers of the pagan lifestyle of the young people of shechem, although it was in direct opposition to her family traditions. she may have felt confident that she could take care of herself even in a strange country. what began as an excursion of curiosity ended in tragedy of dinah’s rape by the young prince of shechem. whatever the circumstances leading to his tragedy, dinah surely did not expect nor deserve this ultimate degradation.” nkjv women’s study bible second edition.

it clearly lays the responsibility of being raped on dinah, rather than the choices of a well-to-do chief who was used to getting everything he wanted in life. this description leads us to believe that dinah was raped because she ignored the dangers of a new land.

further down in the chapter we learn how devastated and angry her brothers were to learn of this violation their only sister experienced, and so they tricked shechem and his father and murdered everyone. dinah’s story begins and ends with tragedy, yet because the authors of the book (likely male) didn’t see it worthwhile to include dinah’s recovery, we are left to tie several thoughts together, “a young, ignorant girl was raped because she was alone in a new country, which led her brothers to murder an entire village and potentially ruin her dad’s reputation.” my my, dinah certainly does have a lot of power for being a stupid girl. We never hear from her again. I’m left wondering how long she sits in shame before the Lord redeems her.

one of the most controversial bible verses about rape in the bible is found in Deuteronomy 22, where God instructs any man who rapes a women to marry her. umm. . . no? if you’re like me, you’ve probably seriously questioned your faith in God at this point. for others, you may have just skimmed this book because you knew you couldn’t answer the questions people would ask.

but let us not run from it, let us face it with the revelation of God by dissecting what God is actually saying.

in my first post on this series (click here) i discussed the meaning of marriage according to God. with that in mind, God is really requiring man to adhere to His guidelines for being a man. He is telling the man to die for this woman, to protect her for the rest of her days. to us, today, we see this as a punishment to the woman (and i have a feeling even back then, the woman felt it as so), yet when you see the woman’s place in society back then, you begin to realize that God wasn’t punishing the woman, he was protecting her.

secondly, still today, we believe that being raped is like a scarlet letter we must wear on our chests for all to see. it is something to be ashamed of, that it brings great shame to the family of the victim, and you’re likely to struggle finding anyone to deal with your baggage. i can’t even begin to count the times i have apologized to my husband or family. at least today, we are more than likely going to meet someone who will provide the support and understanding we need.

back then though, you could be stoned to death for not being a virgin and being unwed. (i’m still waiting revelation on those directions in deuteronomy). your family, or you would never be able to find someone willing to marry you. you’d likely be banished from your home and left to die. so, knowing this was the way of the culture, God put a law into place that redeemed the woman, making sure she would have a husband and be protected.

to recap, God doesn’t condone the rape and sexual violence humans are committing against one another, but he is protecting from the repercussions of sin and redeeming us.

i know what you’re thinking, “but none of this changes the impact of sexual violence or the shame victim/survivors feel” and you’d be half correct. Society tells victims we should feel shame, but God tells us in 1 pet 2:6 ‘see, i am placing on mount zion a cornerstone, chosen, and held in honour, and he whose faith rests on Him shall never have reason to feel ashamed. but to do this, we must continually remind ourselves of the promises God has made us, and who He tells us we are rather than focus on the words of man.

God promises that you are;

  • justified and redeemed (romans 3:24) and
  • chosen, holy and blameless before God (ephesains 1:4).
  • free from condemnation (romans 8:1)

when the enemy tells you that you are unlovable, damaged or worthless, remind Him that God has chosen you! (1 thess 4:1). God has not abandoned us, we abandoned Him, yet He continuously redeems us and has freed us from slavery to sin and the life that the enemies lies try to us hold us to.

as i write these verses down, i sense some of my readers see them as simple words. i sense the depth of pain and emptiness some of you are feeling right now. i sense this, because i once felt those same things. i sat convinced that what happened to me both as a child and young adult were fully my fault, that i was being punished by a angry and resentful God.

but He redeemed me. He redeemed me without me asking for it. i didn’t need to give up my life, i needed to accept life! i needed to let go of the lies that society told me about myself. the lies that told me i should have known better.

even the spiritual lies that say if you’re still in pain, you haven’t forgiven or God only cares about you if you are sinless. all these are from the enemy. God doesn’t care what you smell like, or look like. go to Him, lay down the life the enemy gave you and trade it in for a better life.

if you take nothing else away from this post, remember this, it is not your fault that you were raped. you didn’t cause it. you aren’t damaged because of it.

you have been redeemed.

 

 

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