Assholes in Church

I was at my church the other day and the senior warden walked in. The senior warden sexually harassed my friend’s daughter. It was hard for me to stay in that church, so I left. I left because too often, church is a lie. Assholes do abound, even in churches. Sometimes it seems wherever control or a lust for power is to be had for the taking, a bully may be found. Even in a church which should, by its very nature, be a place where care for the poor and needy come first, where humans are safe from abuse, where love is doled out without strings attached, and where judgment is kept at bay.

I struggle with this man, knowing what happened to me as a child and knowing what he has done. My friend doesn’t want me to say anything about it, so I don’t. I don’t tell a soul. But as an intuitive, I already knew he was off. I can feel things others can’t, but his cloak is a good one. He’s a successful man, intelligent, reasonable {the devil often is}. He works hard. He seems good. He is far more successful than my friend’s daughter, who requires state assistance and is raising two girls on her own. He lives in a big house; she lives in a troubled neighborhood in an apartment.

It’s difficult to be a Christian in a world so hyper geared towards “success”. I myself am a failure in worldly terms. The world hasn’t been interested in the incest that devastated my life to the point of hearing his voice, having flashbacks and body memories, to this very day. I live in housing that keeps this hell alive and well. I struggle with a sad past and an inability, due to mental illness and post traumatic stress disorder, to have a conventional existence. I struggle not to blame myself. I didn’t marry or bond well with men, and my father is to blame for that. I find myself on the sidelines of life, extremely sensitive to all of its injustices, attempting to show Christ’s love in a world that despises me as both a woman and a marginalized person. Depersonalized at the age of six, used for his gratification, my life has been severely affected. The mask grows old and weary, his voice grows tiresome, the world’s relentless drumbeat rolls on, mowing down anyone in its way that doesn’t fit into its scheme.

The scheme is to kill and destroy. The scheme is to humiliate those already suffering, to make them beg for their bread instead of freely providing it. The scheme is to spread hatred instead of love, to tear down the weak, to uplift and adulate the wealthy and famous, the so-called powerful and strong, at the expense of those who go without. In a world designed to keep them down. Bullies need victims like my friend’s daughter. They need good places to hide, like a church. They need a world in which power and control and money and success now thrive even in Jesus’ temple, which should be devoted to those most cruelly hurt by life’s abusiveness and its inability to show or teach any compassion.

Oh, I have stories, of abuse, and heartache, and how the world treats those who dare to need any assistance, who have been thrown off to the sidelines and forced to endure its callousness. Who have the eyes to see the daily crucifixion of its innocents, what they are forced to endure.

Take drugs? You’re a weak addict and you deserve to die.

On welfare? You abuse the system and must be a liar and a fraud.

On disability for an invisible mental illness? You’re just weak. You didn’t try hard enough.

On the street? It’s your own damn fault, not the fault of a world that hasn’t bothered to care enough for its citizens to provide housing for all of them.

Need help from a church? I might deny it to you or make you do a song and dance first in order to get it. Want to come stay at my place until you get a leg up? I might pull you aside and berate you for not having a job. Homeless people with ptsd, you say? Surely not. Not in my world.

Sexual abuse of children leading to lifelong consequences of the most severe kind? You seem fine to me! If I can’t see it, it’s not real. Not in my worldview.

This is a deeply troubled world. Jesus, in His compassion and wisdom for those on the sidelines, for those who were raised to gratify the sexual needs of fathers instead of given love, knows this better than anyone. He came to die for the world’s sins, but mostly, he came so that those unloved, unacknowledged, the uncared for, would be loved. For those most despised by the conventional, successful human beings, the callous and callow, self-congratulatory status quo. For those most wiling to let people die on the street so they can go to bed fat and happy, untroubled by the suffering of those most unlike them. Yet most in need of care.

Not my problem. Their fault. Tear down the innocent. Degrade the homeless. Harass my friend’s daughter and hide in church using my position and title to justify my abuse. The woman who, like me, was raped by her own father. Crucify those who aren’t on the top of the heap. Blame, turn away. Destroy. Keep the ancient fires burning. The old story that is destroying us all. There is a circle, and all of us belong in it, no justification required. Simply by virtue of the fact that we are all God’s children. Believe it.

Or, turn a blind eye. Do not see. Do not pass go. Do not collect two hundred dollars. Learn. To love. To see.

And do know you will never pass this way again.