Let me be angry.

Trigger Warning for abuse and rape: 

I’ve been tired of fighting. Been feeling like nothing is coming through. Been terrified of being dismissed as an angry feminist. But being too filled with words–bursting at the seams with them. All the words I’ve held back because of fear and good ol’ Christian niceties.

All those words can’t be contained anymore.

Because things are wrong.

Things are unfair.

People are hurting.

How can you just stand there?

And there I go again. I guess I am just an angry feminist. But how can you not be? How can you hear the abusive words that church leaders say, how can you hear about the rape and the abuse and the churches that cover it up and not be angry? 

It breaks my heart when people tell me that I don’t care about unity because I will not embrace abusive theology or those who preach it.

It breaks my heart when people say that I am mean or unChristlike because I cannot have a polite discussion about men like the man who raped me and hit me and called me a whore as he threw me against his car.

It breaks my heart that my voice and the voices of those I love are seen as a “digital grenades” when we speak out against the words of abusive pastors. The words of men that lead women to stay with abusive husbandswords that can literally kill–are not seen as the problem, and that breaks my heart.

It breaks my heart that Christians say we are all members of one body, and therefore must embrace the cancerous cells that threaten us with hell, tell us to take responsibility for being raped, compare sex to a man “conquering and colonizing…”

It breaks my heart that someone will be more upset that I compared these men to cancer cells–even though they are eating away at everything that is good and healthy in the body of Christ–than they are about the fact that people are hurting in the church.

People are hurting so badly.

I’m hurting.

Maybe you’re hurting too.

So let me flip over tables, because you shouldn’t have to hurt.

Let me use the words that are my modern-day equivalent of “brood of vipers,” because I shouldn’t have to hurt either.

Let me throw those digital grenades and let me make abusive pastors my business, and let me get riled up. Because no one should ever have to hurt.

Don’t tell me to be nice because being nice about abuse is like trying to treat a cavity with sugar.

Don’t tell me to leave it in God’s hands, because maybe God’s been doing a terrible job. Or because maybe God works through boring, ordinary, people like me. I don’t know which anymore.

Let me be angry. That’s all I ask.

  • http://thaliasmusingsnovels.com Amethyst

    Hey, Bruno Mars would take a grenade for us. Why can’t John Piper and Mark Driscoll? :P

  • Steph

    I feel like the church oftentimes tries to quiet anger. Growing up, I felt like I was never ever supposed to be angry, because it meant that I wasn’t being forgiving enough. Anger is seen as bad and dangerous, and I feel like I developed this idea that anger was a scary emotion that I wasn’t allowed to feel–that it wasn’t valid somehow. I’ve been processing leaving my former church because as a queer woman, I am not welcome. I am angry. I’m angry at the church culture that perpetuates bigotry, abuse and discrimination and I am angry at specific people that have perpetuated these things over and over, that have said things that have personally wounded me. I’m not very good at being angry. I tend to turn it inwards and find a way to blame myself, because it never felt safe to be angry at anyone but myself.
    I’m practicing being angry. I always believed that if I allowed myself to be, that it would consume me, but it feels more productive somehow. If I find myself blaming myself again, I slow down and remind myself that I am not the problem here. Sometimes it sticks, sometimes it doesn’t, but I have to believe that it’ll be enough.

    You are allowed to be angry. You are not the problem here.

  • Jim Fisher

    *heartpalm* You and Bessey are on a roll this week. But what the eff do we do about it? Where do we take it from here? There is no God of hurt. There is no God of fear. There is no God of hate. God is LOVE!! Period!!!! Why do we not get this? Grrrrr.

  • http://www.wildernessofmotherhood.com Lora

    Thank you for your courage and integrity. As a woman, it’s the thing I have lacked – the integrity of living true to the wisdom I have to speak, to make decisions that include my own well-being as well as that of the whole. Unity needs to include the whole of us as individuals. Those who want unity at the expense of the individual’s truth and well-being are prescribing internal fracturing and disassociation of the person. Unity begins with the individual embracing themselves. Only when we’ve done that can we really know unity in the community. We then know what it looks like, smells like, tastes like to live it – and we can embrace one another with the same compassion and acceptance we have extended to ourselves.

    And when the system we’re living in does everything possible to suppress that possibility, we have a calling to speak up. I said that I have lacked integrity, but I have also lived in a society (and churches) where that integrity is not even recognized, let alone encouraged. it’s quite honestly punished. We’re shamed for being “selfish” or “angry.” And we’ve by and large internalized the shame so that we don’t even know the system has fault.

    You are doing a wonderful thing here. You’re naming truth – your own and the groups’. I love your work, your writing, your voice. Thank you for all you do.

  • http://hatchwords.wordpress.com Joni

    Thank you for this. Thank you for speaking. Thank you for being angry and putting words around your anger. THANK YOU for your compassion and truth. THANK YOU. There is too much silence.

  • http://hatchwords.wordpress.com Joni

    Reblogged this on and commented:
    Sarah Over the Moon is one of my new favorite bloggers. She guest posted on Hatch* last week, and today on her own blog she speaks out on abuse. This is a beautiful post and it needs to be heard.

    • http://hatchwords.wordpress.com Joni

      DANG! I suck. Totally mixed you up with another Sarah. But still reblogged this post… and do you want to guest post on hatch*? :) :)

      • http://twitter.com/SarahNMoon Sarah Moon (@SarahNMoon)

        hah! that’s alright. I don’t know what hatch is but if you tell me more about it I’ll see what I can do!

  • http://thereforeiambic.blogspot.com Elena Johnston

    Jesus is angry, too, and I’m convinced that if we listen long enough and hard enough, his words will show us what to do with our anger. How to live in his kingdom, not perpetuating these grotesque power struggles but rather exposing them for what they are.

    You know, how to “be angry and not sin.” Because sometimes its a sin NOT to be angry, when Jesus is angry, too.

  • http://twitter.com/edcyzewski edcyzewski (@edcyzewski)

    I think one of the key distinctives here is to separate a crazy tweet from a celebrity pastor that we just need to ignore (rather than launching into a tirade about it) vs. the really destructive stuff that you mention in this post. There are times when it’s wise to just do the good work of the Kingdom in order to present a foil to the grandstanding, shock jock pastors. There are also times when we need to call out the abuse these leaders perpetuate in their teachings. And even if we do call them out, I think the world is hungry for alternatives to them or at least ways to find healing. So even in our critiques, which are often rightfully passionate, we have an opportunity to present a more compelling vision of what it means to live as a follower of Jesus.

    • http://twitter.com/SarahNMoon Sarah Moon (@SarahNMoon)

      Who defines a crazy tweet? Is something that reveals deep seeds of racism (that assume black people aren’t real Christians) in evangelicalism crazy? Problem is, if a tweet or a blog post or whatever doesn’t directly hurt a Christian, we pass it off as crazy and say we should just ignore it. But what if other groups of Christians don’t see it as a “crazy tweet?” Who are we to accuse them of launching digital grenades when Christians are to weep with those who weep?

      I work daily to find a more compelling vision of Christianity. But while my sisters and brothers in Christ are being oppressed and marginalized, even by “shock jock” pastors, that more compelling vision cannot become a reality.

    • http://www.beckygarrison.com Becky Garrison

      Ed – where I agree with you is in the case of obvious trolls aka Westboro Baptist and Ann Coulter who depend on shock value to drive traffic to their site. But Driscoll is another case – he is a pastor whose podcasts of his sermons are in the Top 100 in iTunes and he trains other pastors to be like Jesus (IOW, be like Mark). So I see in Driscoll the possibility to churn out others who will do likewise to my fellow sisters. Furthermore, unlike Fred and Ann, who are pout on the air as media clowns, Driscoll is presented as a legit Christian voice – and that should concern anyone who think he should be in the media clown category as well.

    • http://sethhaines.wordpress.com sethhaines

      Ed,

      I’ve always like you.

    • http://twitter.com/alyssabaconliu alyssa bacon-liu (@alyssabaconliu)

      I agree with Sarah. Who gets to decide which Driscoll tweets are crazy enough to address? His tweet re: Obama was oozing with racism, ethnocentrism, and prejudice. And what I’m hearing from the Christian blogging community is: Meh, not that important. As a non-white member of the Christian blogging community, how do you think that makes me feel?

      There was so much unchecked privilege in the Deeper Story post. Unfortunately some people don’t have the privilege of being unscathed by the effects of Driscoll’s words.

  • http://becomingworldly.wordpress.com heatherjanes

    You made me think of my favorite passage from Judith Herman’s book “Trauma and Recovery:”
    “In order to escape accountability for his crimes, the perpetrator does everything in his power to promote forgetting. Secrecy and silence are the perpetrator’s first line of defense. If secrecy fails, the perpetrator attacks the credibility of his victim. If he cannot silence her absolutely, he tries to make sure that no one listens. To this end, he marshals an impressive array of arguments, from the most blatant denial to the most sophisticated and elegant rationalization. After every atrocity one can expect to hear the same predictable apologies: it never happened; the victim lies; the victim exaggerates; the victim brought it upon herself; and in any case it is time to forget the past and move on. The more powerful the perpetrator, the greater his prerogative to name and define reality, and the more completely his arguments prevail. The perpetrator’s arguments prove irresistible when the bystander faces them in isolation… When the victim is already devalued (a woman, a child), she may feel that the most traumatic events of her life take place outside the realm of socially validated reality. Her experience becomes unspeakable.”

    Absolutely you should be throwing a “digital grenade” into that structure, and more power to you for doing so. Keep it up.

  • http://www.bethanysuckrow.com writesandrights

    First, I just want to say that I am sorry for your life experiences. I am sorry that you were abused. I want to invest in you and your calling and your story. I just want to make it clear that I seek to understand.

    I think Ed Cyzewski articulates the issue here really well. I think the reason this whole thing was brought up has been lost in the shuffle. This whole thing began with Driscoll’s tweet about Obama, not about feminist issues and sexual abuse, although yes, it stems from the same twisted view of God. But his tweet about Obama, similar to his tweet about pontificating bloggers a week or two ago, was shock-jocking. Yes, it presents horrible theology and we should address it. But how we call out bad theology often determines the efficacy of our message – Communications 101. If you need a good metaphor, let’s stick with the cancer idea. Sometimes the treatment for killing the cancer is deadly in itself. This doesn’t mean the use of/search for treatment and cure is bad; it means we have to keep seeking better methods that don’t kill the body in the process.

    You are right, Sarah. You should be angry. We should all be angry. I am angry at Mark Driscoll. Anger isn’t wrong. But to assume that the people advocating a different approach aren’t angry is to demonize those who see things differently than us, a tactic that Mark Driscoll has so spectacularly exemplified for us. But how we leverage our experiences and our anger and our theology can emaciate our community in it’s own way. Through hurtful, passive aggressive tweets, through open rejection of those trying to reconcile and discuss this with each other, through assumptions about a person’s story without taking the time to hear it, through a complete disregard for a person’s apologies and explanations because we’d rather be right then have relationship, what we are actually doing is trading illness for illness. It is not the pursuit of healing.

    So let’s be angry, let’s call out. But let’s not kill each other in the process.

    • http://twitter.com/SarahNMoon Sarah Moon (@SarahNMoon)

      Tweeting about an article written by a person I do not know that they posted publicly on the internet is hardly passive aggressive. Being hurt that people are comparing my anger to “digital grenades” is hardly “demonizing those who see things differently.” Telling me that standing up to the abuse and the silencing tactics that happen everywhere in the church and in society is me caring more about being right than relationship is not cool.

      • http://danileekelley.wordpress.com Dani

        You respond to hug-sluggers very well.

        And I’d like to say that I always understood hug-slug to mean that someone offers you supposed emotional support (hugging you) just as they’re about to tell you how wrong and bad you are (the slug). But apparently Urban Dictionary describes a hug-slug as French-kissing. And I don’t think that’s what writesandrights was doing :P

        • http://www.bethanysuckrow.com writesandrights

          So disagreement equates to hate speech? I’m not allowed to profess respect for Sarah even though I disagree with her on something? Tell me how I should have said this better. Unless I’m not allowed to disagree at all.

          • http://danileekelley.wordpress.com Dani

            No. You’re the one using inflammatory language. In your original comment, you said that Sarah was demonizing those who see things differently. That’s inflammatory and exaggerated. Same with “open disregard” and lots of other terms that I don’t really feel like combing through your comment to find. In this comment right now to me, I never once mentioned hate speech, nor do I think what you did qualifies as hate speech. I do think it qualifies as being a concern troll and trying to derail a conversation by equating what Sarah is doing (expressing thoughts and emotions in a non-threatening, non-hurtful way in a public forum) with what Driscoll and Piper etc. do (espouse ideas that actively hurt people). You’re arguing on the side of power, then getting upset when people respond in a way that you apparently don’t think is okay.

      • http://www.bethanysuckrow.com writesandrights

        So… how do you get to know people on the internet? Do you just let them find you? It’s cool to tweet at Mark Driscoll, but not cool to tweet at someone who is a hell of a lot more willing to engage discussion with you than Driscoll will ever be? Let me make it easy for you. My name is Bethany, my Twitter handle, as here, is writesnrights. Lore Ferguson wrote the Deeper Story article. Her Twitter handle is loreferguson. She works for Sower of Seeds International, an organization that helps women victimized by sex traffickers escape and find refuge. She’s a pretty awesome person, and not at all an abuse-enabler just because she wants to talk about different ways to address the Driscoll issue, of which there are many. Same for me.

        But you’ve made it pretty clear that no matter how many times I reiterate that I do, indeed care about you and your story and your calling, if I don’t agree with you 100%, I’m not allowed to talk. How is that any different than power dynamic that you purport to be against?

        • http://www.facebook.com/sarahnmoon Sarah Moon

          You are talking, on my open comment section. I am responding to a public piece, which I linked to so if the author would like to respond she has access to it. I also responded in the comments section on the article itself which she can read. I don’t see how this is passive aggressive.

          I am telling you that the ideas put forth in that article hurt me and others. I am telling you that the “everyone should mind their own business” approach hurts people no matter how good their intentions were. Your response is to accuse me of being just like Driscoll and to say that I’m more concerned about rightness than relationships. I am telling you directly that I don’t appreciate this response and if this is you “caring” then I’m not interested. You can talk all you want in this comments section unless you are obviously a spam bot or just attacking other commenters. So can I. We both are doing this. No one is being passive aggressive here. What is the problem?

  • Amie

    Hi Sarah,

    I happened to stumble across Libby Anne’s blog, LoveJoyFeminism and through her, I found your blog and others. I was completely unaware of the Quiverfull/Patriarchy movement and Spiritual abuse in many churches (I don’t go to church now but I attended a Baptist church when I was young) but my eyes have since been opened.

    You should know that you and all of the other strong, compassionate survivors I have found online have changed my life. My worldview has changed, I am not willing to be complicit anymore, to turn your head and say that something doesn’t affect you because your family and friends aren’t being hurt is a cop out and it’s incredibly selfish. We are all connected and I think our world would be a better place if we treated everyone like someone who matters in our life.

    Your blog is exceptionally important, not only to those who have suffered abuse as you have, but to people who have no idea this even happens. You have every right to be angry and you should be angry. I don’t think change can happen until someone gets angry; with anger comes fierce passion and motivation.

    These abusers need to be called out at every oppurtunity. The voices speaking out against them need to be so loud that eventually they break through the wall of each of these churches and the members hear them and start thinking for themselves. If you can break through to the members of these churches, you can shut down the leaders. These abusers/bullies bask in the glow of being worshipped, but if the worshipers fade away, who do you have left? Sad, pathetic, transparent men seen for who they really are and not who they have made themselves out to be.

    Thank you for all that you do, please keep up the good work because we’re listening!

    Amie

  • http://twitter.com/SandraHeretic Sandra (@SandraHeretic)

    Angry is a very good thing. I did nice. I’ve been admonished to be forgiving. Fuck that! I’m gonna be angry. Angry gets things done. Angry does what no one did for me. Angry does what I thought I wasn’t worthy of. I’m worth getting angry over, dammit! And so is every little girl. Every soul that gets diminished by exposure to abuse of authority deserves someone to be angry. Because it is evil. Jesus called it what it was; we should do no less.

  • http://gatheringinlight.com wess daniels

    Thanks for being an example of speaking up for what is right. Keep it up. There are many who have your back!

  • http://outoftheearth.wordpress.com/ Kellyann

    I’m glad you mentioned flipping over tables, and “brood of vipers,” because let’s face it: Jesus acted and spoke in ways that make the pathologically meek Christians (or the Christians who want OTHER people to be pathologically meek) EXTREMELY uncomfortable. But remembering that Jesus understood rage at the visceral level keeps me sane. (Frankly, I also think it’s a good corrective to the liberal Christian attitude I sometimes come into contact with, the attitude that God cannot encompass anything negative, to the point that God and Jesus become insipidly incapable of anger.)

    Do you know May Sarton’s “Invocation to Kali”? It’s helped me stay with my anger when others want to shame me for it. It’s also helped remind me that if God cannot rage against injustice, then God isn’t actually God. http://college.holycross.edu/projects/himalayan_cultures/2006_plans/syoung/The%20Invocation%20to%20Kali.pdf

  • http://gravatar.com/shaneyirene Shaney Irene

    Good for you, Sarah. I think where a lot of disconnect happens is that people will agree in theory, “Yes, be angry!” but then continue to try and define HOW it is okay to be angry. One of the things that I learned very quickly when my friends started going through awful stuff was that it was not mine to tell them how to deal. If one of them wanted to say “fuck” and “shit” while I was listening to them, my job wasn’t to police their language, but to sit with them, to listen, to cry with them. But it never was, and never will be my place to tell them how to express their anger. That’s for their therapist, and I am not their therapist.

    Turning toward the more “public” forms of expressing anger, I think a lot of the same rules apply. Unless I know you, know your story, and know your goals, I have no business telling you how to express your anger publicly. If I don’t like it, I have every right to distance myself. If I have an actual established relationship with you and know your goals, and truly believe that the way you are expressing your anger is hindering those goals, then I might have a place to speak up (my boyfriend is often this person for me. It causes tension in our relationship sometimes, but I know him, I know he is on my side, he knows my goals, and he has earned my trust and the right to speak to me about how I express myself.) Otherwise, it’s not my place. Your anger is yours, and how you express it is between you and God.

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