Is it wrong to steal a car?
What if the owner of that car was basically asking for it to be stolen?
What if the owner washed it every day so it was as shiny as possible? What if he left it in his drive-way for all the world to see?
He didn’t make any attempts to cover it up. He didn’t hide how great of a car it was.
What if he even let people from the neighborhood touch his car, or sit in the passenger seat if they asked? What if he gave people free rides all the time?
So how could someone know that it isn’t okay to just take that car?
Don’t advertising what you’re not selling, right?
He has it coming.
So, is it wrong to steal a car?
Duh. Yes. Of course.
I don’t think any judge would pardon a car thief, even if said car thief used all of these excuses.
But sometimes, a man can rape a woman, use these same excuses, and get away with it.
Some people believe that if a woman makes herself look too nice…
If she shows off the body that she owns…
If she gives out too many “free rides” to other men (if she’s a “slut”)…
She’s asking for it.
Is a woman not worth more than a car?
Rape culture is disgusting and dehumanizing. Good thing it doesn’t exist in Christian circles, right?
Let me tell you a story.
I was a senior in high-school. A Christian high-school. And I was in government class. We were having a discussion about abortion laws. Obviously, in my tiny, Independent Fundamental Baptist-based Christian school, everyone had the same opinion about abortion.
So my teacher played the devil’s advocate and asked us, “What if a woman was raped? Should she have the right to abort any pregnancy that results from that rape?”
One student raised her hand and said, “Well, no. It’s still wrong. Besides, most rape victims were raped because they were dressing like sluts and drinking. It’s their own fault. They were asking for it.”
The rest of the class (teacher included) laughed and agreed.
A victim of sexual abuse myself, I excused myself to go to the bathroom and cry and wonder what I had done wrong…how I had asked for it.
A couple of years later, I read a Christian dating book that contained a chapter about modesty. I’ll paraphrase one of the quotes (I’d type the exact quote but I can’t remember it and I can’t look it up because I’ve since ripped the book in half and thrown it away in a freeing act of therapeutic anger):
“Don’t advertise your body if it’s not on the menu. If you dress like a slab of meat, you’re going to get thrown on the barbecue.”
Then, a few weeks ago, I read an article by an extremely influential Christian author. He tried to tell women how to date. In addition to throwing the word “slut” around, he told women to “stop playing the victim” and own up to their mistakes when it came to sex. He even gave out this lovely piece of advice:
“…stop using alcohol as an excuse. Nobody gets drunk and accidentally sleeps with a hamster. You know what you’re doing, drunk or not, so cut it out.”
I wish these three examples were the only contact that I’ve had with rape culture in the church.
Rape culture is here in our churches. It’s subtle and it’s sneaky, but it’s here.
Every time an influential Christian author calls a woman a “slut,” it’s here.
Every time a man points a finger at a group of women and says, “Your immodesty is the reason we men struggle with pornography,” it’s here.
Every time a sexual abuse victim is forced to apologize in front of her church for her “behavior,” it’s here.
What’s our answer to that question, Church?
Is she worth more than that car that we’d never steal? Is she worth more than the pound of steak that’s on sale at the butchers’ shop? Is she worth more than products that can be advertised?
Does the length of her skirt determine the value of her soul?
Do our churches’ answers to these questions look any different than rape culture’s answers?