I was at the salon one day and I was giving my testimony to one of the ladies who frequent the shop with me every month. Her statement of faith was that she had no faith in the church at all because of what was done to her now deceased mother. I will get back to that later. In the middle of giving my personal testimony I told this woman that my husband and I had been spiritually raped at our former ministry, and this caused her to physically recoil. I did not stop there, but finished giving the testimony as God instructed, and then she told me her mother’s. Today I was thinking back on that conversation and I wondered why she recoiled the way that she did; that prompted me with the desire to know just how rape is defined by Dictonary.com (2011):
As a noun;
1.the unlawful compelling of a woman through physical force or duress to have sexual intercourse.
2.any act of sexual intercourse that is forced upon a person.
4.an act of plunder, violent seizure, or abuse; despoliation; violation: the rape of the countryside.
5.Archaic . the act of seizing and carrying off by force.
As a verb;
6.to force to have sexual intercourse.
7.to plunder (a place); despoil.
8.to seize, take, or carry off by force.
In the World English Dictionary it has the definition, 3. any violation or abuse: the rape of justice, and that will be my focus for discussion. If you look online for the different types of rape you will find many varieties like spousal, acquaintance, statutory, prison, war, gang, etc. Rape is used for a variety of purposes as well; power, control, anger, and sexual gratification and sadism are a few of them. No one really wants to touch spiritual rape and its purpose, effect and residue. But I do. I am a survivor of spiritual rape and as such, I feel that my story can help someone else who may be going through it, or who has escaped it and does not know where to turn.
First, let me finish with my salon friend mother’s story; she stated that her mother attended the same church for more than 20 years and was extremely faithful to it. This lady had five siblings and they could all see that her mother was in a spiritually abusive church, but she would not listen, she was faithful even unto the end of her life. The daughter told me that her mother gave the church her life savings, she had nothing left upon her death, and although she seemed happy, the family never saw her that way. They saw their mother broken, battered and bruised by a ministry that cared nothing about her soul, only her wealth. What eventually happened was this faithful woman of God probably went home to Jesus, but her six children harbor resentment to the church and possibly God for what they saw their mother suffer. Spiritual rape.
My (our) story is a little different in that the church did not end us, God made a way for our escape, healed us and allowed us to live and tell the tale. Presently it seems like a vast number of ministries are allowing these spiritual rapists to run rampant. They are ravaging God’s people and leaving them for dead spiritually. Please understand that rape is a violation that is intended to strip a person down to their very core and leave them vulnerable; many church leaders who do this may not even be aware of what they are doing, but at heart they are narcissistic, ego-maniacal control freaks who were most likely not sent and just went. In my case it started innocently enough, having my husband and I become “servants” of the Pastor and his wife, and once that was successfully implemented we had to be publicly humiliated in front of the church (homeless and the Pastor offered us a two room shack with no kitchen for us and our 3 children at the time), and when that mission was completed the final phase was to make sure that every service we were guilted into giving a sacrificial offering because we owed him. We had been initiated into the ranks of the spiritually raped victims who came before us. Why were they successful you may ask? The same reason why a date rapist may successfully conquer his “prey”; these people will have you both adore them and on some level fear them and those emotions will make you let down your defenses and leave you vulnerable.
I have a confession. I am a huge fan of the show “Law and Order: Special Victims Unit”, and last night I remembered an episode where this young lady was targeting these men and desecrating their bodies by scarring them. When she was finally caught in the act she made the statement/question when asked who she was: “I’m nobody, who are you? Are you nobody too (a poem originally written by E. Dickenson)?” The detectives did not understand the meaning behind those questions until they figured out that the men she was targeting were the men who had raped her as a young teen. They victimized and told her that she was a “nobody”. Sound familiar?
The spiritual rapist will have you questioning everything that you previously believed, even your identity in Christ, and possibly destroy any trust in God that you had built up. I can honestly state that after we were spiritually ravaged, God Himself delivered us from the evil hand that victimized us and it took YEARS to heal. It has only been in the last two years that I have been able to loosen up around most pastors because of the one that I came up under.
To answer my initial question on why the lady in the salon recoiled, it was because the word “rape” is still taboo and a lot of women do not want to even discuss it. However, spiritual rape is a true phenomenon and many women AND men have been victims. The good news is that Jesus Christ is a healer and 2 Cor. 5:17 states, “Therefore if any man be in Christ, he is a new creature: old things are passed away; behold, all things are become new”. He is also a restorer; if he can restore my faith, he can also restore yours.
In light of the spiritual rapists like well-known Eddie Long/Creflo Dollar, Jamal Bryant, Pastor Ed Young, and others of their ilk, scandals, and even the lesser known wolves like my former pastor, I urge their members to recognize their abusers, empower yourselves and flee!
If you are reading this and you are wavering because it is hard to trust any person in the pulpit, please send me an email and I will pray with you that God will lead and guide you into all of His truth. I cannot tell you how many nights I cried over how hurt and deceived I felt. No, not at God because my faith may have wavered at times but it never failed. I cried because the first man of God (I thought) that I trusted violated that trust. I consoled myself not with evil thoughts of vengeance, but I know that God’s Word will not return to Him void, but it will accomplish that which he pleases (Isa. 55:11), and God said that he would repay. That is good enough for me!
A Pastor’s Wife