Today, a friend shared a post on Facebook from Everyday Feminism, titled 25 Everyday Examples of Rape Culture. The author, Shannon Ridgway, discusses what rape culture is before giving a list of examples in everyday culture, from chants allowed at universities to the prevelance of street harassment.

(I recommend you click the link and read the explanation of what rape culture is in that post before you continue.)

I was glad to see a list of clear examples that I could share with my friends, but I found myself running into one problem: most of my friends who deny the existence of rape culture are Christians. They would look at Ridgway’s list and declare the problem to be “the world.” They wouldn’t recognize similar examples of rape culture in their churches, small groups, books, blog posts, etc.

Amnon and Tamar, Unknown Artist, public domain.

Amnon and Tamar, Unknown Artist, public domain.

So with the help of some friends who also grew up in conservative Christianity, I’ve put together a list of examples of rape culture within Christian culture. If the church is going to be a safe place for women, for children, for vulnerable populations, for survivors of abuse, we must confront the ways in which Christianity is unsafe, say “enough,” and root out the attitudes and beliefs that lead to rape culture.

1. Christian rape culture is equating education about consent with “risk reduction” while calling abstinence education “risk avoidance.” 

This is a form of blaming the victim, because the underlying assumption is that if one avoids sexual activity, one will avoid the risk of assault, STDs, pregnancy, etc. One may still experience these things whether or not one chooses abstinence.

2. Christian rape culture is refusing to teach about consent because it might encourage kids to have sex. 

This erases consent as a necessary component of sexual morality.

3. Christian rape culture is when wives are told they must always be sexually available to their husbands. 

This not only ignores, but condones marital rape.

4. Christian rape culture is when pregnancies that result from rape are called “God’s will.”

What the victim hears is that their rape was God’s will, too.

5. Christian rape culture is when the false idea that pregnancy rarely happens from rape is perpetuated in Christian circles.

This opens the door for people to accuse people pregnant from rape as “wanting it,” since otherwise they would have been “too stressed out” to become pregnant.

6. Christian rape culture is when churches don’t do background checks on children’s/nursery ministry volunteers because “We know these people and they would never do that.”

Actually, most sexual assault is perpetrated by people close to and trusted by the victim. Perpetrators are experts at making people like them.

7. The way the church teaches “modesty” is rape culture.

It’s never okay to say that what a person wears determines how someone else will view them. Lust and objectification are choices someone else makes, not something that is caused by what a person wears.

8. Christian rape culture happens when prominent Christians publicly defend abusers.

Doing so sends the message to other survivors that the church will choose abusers over them.

9. Christian rape culture is when pastors and other spiritual leaders are believed over their victims, just because of their position of spiritual leadership.

Pastors are not immune to committing crimes, and statistics show the vast majority of reported sexual assault to be true.

10. Christian rape culture is any teaching that either explicitly or implicitly teaches male superiority.

Teaching that God is male, that men are spiritually stronger than women, that God gave men gifts he did not give women, etc.

11. Christian rape culture is teaching that woman was created to help and serve man.

This positions woman as a servant of man, including sexually.

12. Christian rape culture is when Christians argue for the removal of women from certain spaces (for example, the military) in order to keep sexual assault from happening.

13. Christian rape culture is when children are forced to give hugs or shake hands when they don’t want to

This primes children to assume that adults get access to their body when they want it, instead of teaching them that they have bodily autonomy and adults can’t just touch them because they want to.

14. Christian rape culture is when language like “colonize” and “conquer” are used to describe sex, and then the author of those words continues to be hosted on popular Christian websites. 

15. Christian rape culture is when words like “broken” and “diseased” are used to describe abuse victims. 

16. Christian rape culture is when we suggest that victims might be “at fault” for their abuse.  

The linked article has examples from workbooks from ATI, Bill Gothard’s ministry, which were used by the Duggars and have been used for a long time in homeschooling circles. This is just one extreme example, there are many more subtle examples, like suggesting that what a person was wearing, where they were, who they were friend with, etc. contributed to the abuse.

17. Christian rape culture is when abuse is called a “mistake” and people make excuses for it. 

See: Josh Duggar.

18. Christian rape culture is teaching children “first time obedience.” 

This is related to number 13. When we teach our children to obey adults without questions, we open them up to being preyed on by people with bad intentions. It’s not just okay to let children question why they’re being told to do something, it’s necessary to their development and protection.

19. Christian rape culture is looking at these examples and blaming it on “those other Christians.” 

If you are a Christian and you are not speaking up when you see this happen, you’re part of the problem. Even if your church doesn’t teach these things, you probably have friends who love to watch the Duggars on TLC, or push modesty culture on their children, or…

You get the point. With stories of sexual abuse in the church coming out again and again, it’s time for all Christians of all stripes to start confronting Christian rape culture.

What examples of Christian rape culture have you seen? What ways have you found effective in confronting it? 


Today, Christian magazine WORLD News published an article about California requiring schools to teach consent in sex education classes. Although not stated explicitly, it’s pretty clear the author, Laura Edghill, is not too happy about this. Only one of the four quotes given in the article is positive, and more time is spent discussing the supposed downsides of the bill, rather than talking about why consent is an important topic to teach. It also demonstrates that WORLD has no idea what teaching consent actually means.

“But advocates for abstinence education say that while preparing students to protect themselves from sexual assault is important, the “affirmative consent” conversation is based on the flawed assumption that the best we can do for students is teach them risk reduction, rather than risk avoidance.”

WORLD has long been a proponent of abstinence-based sex education, so it’s safe to assume that their readers are going to agree with what the abstinence educators say.

But here’s the thing: Teaching consent is not about “risk reduction” vs. “risk avoidance.” Teaching abstinence without teaching consent actually puts kids MORE at risk for sexual assault. Teaching kids to only have sexual contact within marriage won’t stop predators from attempting sexual assault. But teaching kids consent will enable them to recognize what they’re experiencing as sexual assault or not.

I know too many women who grew up in conservative Christian environments who experienced sexual assault, but did not recognize it as such at the time. Why? Because they were never taught that once they said no, the other person was committing a crime. They were never taught that only yes means yes. So they carried guilt for years, assuming they were complicit in sexual sin (“I must have tempted him in some way,” or, “I must not have protested hard enough,”) until they came across the concept of consent and realized they had been assaulted.

“Sex is like boxing. If both people haven’t consented, one of them is committing a crime.”–John Oliver

The rich part of this is that WORLD has reported extensively on the issue of sexual abuse. But in reporting to their readers that teaching consent is “risk reduction” while teaching abstinence is “risk avoidance,” they’re giving parents false information and exposing children to even more risk of sexual abuse. Not one instance of sexual abuse has been prevented by telling people to only have sex inside of marriage.

Assuming abstinence-based sex education will prevent sexual abuse is as ludicrous as assuming saying, “Don’t drive while under the influence of alcohol,” will prevent someone from getting hit by a drunk driver.

And this is a HUGE problem within the church, as this article from Christianity Today’s Leadership Journal describes. The church today does not understand consent. It assumes that teaching that sexual contact outside of marriage is enough, but it’s not. We must teach our kids that their bodies belong to them, and no one else can touch them without their okay. Without teaching consent, abuse will continue to run rampant.

So WORLD magazine, you are part of the problem. If you want to prevent more sexual abuse within the church, you need to stop acting as if teaching consent is a bad thing. You can start by giving away copies of God Made All of Me, a book written to teach consent to young children, to your readers.


It’s been awhile since I’ve posted on this blog. As in, the last time I posted was in March of 2013. I keep thinking I’ll get back into blogging, and then it keeps not happening. So, this is my attempt to “Just do it” and get back into it. Plus, I love these “What I’m Into” posts and have been wanting to do one for a long time. So here I go, linking up with Leigh Kramer for What I’m Into June!

Life stuff:

  • At the end of May/beginning of June, I got to go to Dallas to see one of my best friends from college get married (yay!). While I was there I stayed with my friend Brooke, who lives in an amazing apartment complex with a “resort-style” swimming pool. Yes, I went out there and read by the pool and swam in the pool every single day I was there. DUH.
    Reading by the pool
  • My awesome roommate Luci and I officially signed the lease for our new apartment. I can’t wait to show you guys pictures. There’s a lot of painting and redecorating to be done! The unit has 3 bedrooms, 2 bathrooms, and a laundry room with full-sized washer and dryer! After a year with an “apartment-sized” dryer, I’m super excited about being able to do full loads of laundry again.
  • I FINALLY got my official massage therapy license from the state of Illinois! YAY being official!
  • Just a few days after getting my license, I took a two-day class and got certified to do prenatal massage. I’m SO excited to work on pregnant women. Watching a prenatal massage class was what convinced me I wanted to go into massage therapy. There’s something so beautiful about being able to work on someone who is carrying a new life inside of them.
  • Got a job at River North Massage Therapy Center. They pay me good money, and I get tips. It’s pretty awesome. :)
  • Got to spend time in California, doing amazing things including splashing around in the fountain at Grand Park, spending time with family, and going to the beach.
    Fountain at Grand Park
    Hannah and me

Little things:

  • I bought a bike. A nice bike. Off of Craigslist for $85. And I’m totally going to paint it and it’s going to look so cute.
  • I got a library card. FINALLY. Don’t know what took me so long. Here’s to hours browsing the shelves.

Blog Posts:


  • Does Jesus Really Love Me? by Jeff Chu. Okay, so I have mixed feelings about this one. I expected Chu’s personal journey to be more front-and-center, and instead, I felt like he let the other stories take more front-and-center. It’s still a good book chock full of good stories, but I felt like it was lacking something important. Also, it read more like a series of newspaper articles to me than a book. But maybe that’s just me.
  • The Great Gatsby by F. Scott Fitzgerald. It’s great. It’s a classic. You should read it if you haven’t.
  • Quiet: The Power of Introverts in a World That Can’t Stop Talking by Susan Cain. THIS IS A MUST READ. If you’re extroverted (like me), it will help you understand introverts better than you ever did before. If you’re introverted, it will help you function as your best introverted self. But it’s not just about how introverts function, there’s also a ton of stuff in this book challenging our conventional ideas about how to best get things done (for example: Brainstorming. Not as great an idea as we think).
  • Homeless Bird by Gloria Whelan. I read this in high school and it’s been my favorite book ever since. It’s been a few years since my last reading, so obviously a re-read is overdue. (BTW, it’s only $1.99 on Kindle right now)
  • The Secret Diary of Lizzie Bennet. Amazing, obviously. Because it’s LIZZIE BENNET. (If you haven’t been introduced to The Lizzie Bennet Diaries yet, please, allow me.)
  • Bread and Wine by Shauna Niequist. Yes, it’s as good as everyone says. The memoir portions are beautiful, and I CANNOT wait to start going back through and cooking all the recipes.

Netflix binging:

  • Mad Men. I’m only in season 2, so no spoilers. I can see why everyone is in love with Mad Men fashion. GORGEOUS.
  • Angel. The obvious choice after finishing Buffy.
  • How I Met Your Mother. Actually, this was my first choice after finishing Buffy. Because Allyson Hannigan, duh. And just like everyone else, I hated the finale. Actually, there’s a lot I hated even before we got to the finale. Let’s just say I found the mother a more compelling character after one season than I found Robin after nine seasons.

Listening to:

  • Postmodern Jukebox. Because who DOESN’T love top 40 hits transported to the 1920s, 30s, and 40s??
    YouTube Preview Image



Day 3 prompt: Why should those who haven’t been hurt care about this issue? What do you wish you could tell those who want to help but weren’t close enough to know or see your situation? What do you wish every pastor knew before starting ministry? What would make the church a safe space for you?

Spiritual Abuse Week


Why should you care?

Why is the issue of spiritual abuse important to you, even if you haven’t experienced it, or you don’t know anyone who experienced it, or it’s not happening in your church?

1. People, including your brothers and sisters in Christ, are being hurt

It’s the second greatest commandment, to love your neighbor as yourself. If you were in a spiritually abusive situation, you’d need your brothers and sisters in Christ to stand up for you. Other people need you to stand up for them. It’s that simple.

We are all one body. While there are many local churches, there are not many bodies, just one. I think there’s some inaccuracy in our language when we talk about “local bodies of believer,” because there are local congregations, but they are part of the body of Christ, not bodies in and of themselves.

I continue to be amazed by people who will advocate for unborn babies lives and justice for women and children in countries on the opposite side of the world, but can’t be bothered to speak up for the ones being hurt by the church. I’m not sure why it is (though I suspect it’s an us-vs.-them mentality in which evil is something out there, not something that be a systematic part of the church institution), but it needs to stop. If you’re not willing to care for your own brothers and sisters, what’s the point? The Bible says it’s by our love for one another that the world will know we are his disciples. Where is that love when it refuses to protect those being hurt?

2. It may be going on in your church!

One of the frustrating things about abuse is that it’s often something that goes on in secret, not out in the open. Abusers are often very cunning, controlling people who use manipulative tactics to make sure that those who would stand against them are kept in the dark (or are discredited or forced to leave if they find out.) You may never know that the family who left was actually told to go after bringing concerns to church leadership, or was blamed for choices that “caused” the rape or assault of their daughter. While I certainly don’t mean to cause alarm by saying this, there could potentially be an abuser in your church congregation whom your leadership refuses to discipline and is covering up. And if you don’t make it a point to ask questions, to get involved, to know what’s going on your church, you might miss it!

You have rights. You have the right to ask for copies of the church’s financial records. You have the right to ask how the church does counseling. You have a right to ask what the church’s plan of action is for handling allegations of abuse. You have a right to ask about your church’s child protection policies. You have a right to talk to your leadership about these issues, and you have the right to raise red flags if their answers concern you.

Standing up against spiritual abuse in other churches is needed and necessary, but everyone needs to be aware of what’s going on in their own local congregation. It would be a shame if your local congregation didn’t have an advocate because in our zeal to help others, we miss what’s happening right in front of us.

3. You’ll be prepared to spot it

Whether it’s going on in your church right now, or your friend bring concerns about their own church to you, or you’re looking for a new church in the future, you’ll be prepared to spot the warning signs of a spiritually abusive church. You’ll notice when a church is very authoritarian, when details of important news are kept from the congregation, when Scripture is interpreted to conveniently support all of the pastor’s opinions. A spiritually abusive church can often be similar to a cult (or in some cases actually fit the definition of a cult) in that the people on the inside are clueless as to the fact that what’s going on is extremely unhealthy.

Right now, church (in general) is one of the last places I recommend for a victim of assault or abuse, because the spiritually abusive conditions of so much of the institutionalized church perpetuates victim-blaming mentalities, rape culture, and distrust of “secular” counseling methods. This breaks my heart because it is not what I want for the church. I want the church to be a true beacon of light in a dark and hurting world.

Ultimately, the church should be the safest place on earth for hurting people. There should be copious amounts of grace. There should be room for disagreement, everyone’s gifts should be recognized and encouraged, the vulnerable should be protected, and the hurting should find refuge.

It’s hard work, but it’s so important and so needed. Let’s push forward and work for this church.

This post is part of a synchroblog for Spiritual Abuse Awareness week, hosted by Hännah, Joy, and myself. Today’s linkup is being hosted over at Also, don’t forget to check out the anonymous stories at Elora Nicole, as well as Rachel Held Evan‘s series on abuse and the church.

Day 2 Of Spiritual Abuse Awareness Week: Your Journey And Consequences Of Spiritual Abuse

How has your experience affected you? What has it done to you emotionally, mentally, physically, spiritually, etc.? What has your journey been like? How have you gotten where you are today? Do you feel you’ve healed? What do you still struggle with? 

Spiritual Abuse Week

I wish spiritual abuse was one of those things where once you recognized what was going on, you ceased to experience the negative effects. Unfortunately, it just doesn’t work that way. Even though I haven’t experienced spiritual abuse directly, the negative patterns I experienced still affect me.

As I wrote in my last post, I struggle with emotions. I don’t like feeling them, I don’t like talking about them, I don’t like having to make decisions based on needing to care for them. The funny part is, I’m okay with other people’s emotions for the most part, I just avoid mine whenever I can.

I still try to be perfect (not just good, but perfect), particularly whenever I’m in a situation where I perceive that even one slip up could result in either making someone angry or upset, or losing someone’s good opinion of me. I’m my own worst critic in this regard.

Probably one of the hardest effects to deal with is the fact that I tend to be very cynical toward authority, particularly spiritual authority. I often find it difficult when I hear other people praising pastors, elders, etc., because the first place my mind goes is, “What would they do if they were told about a case of abuse in their congregation?” While I know there are leaders out there who would handle it well, I have watched as friends of mine were not believed, told it was their fault, etc.

I still go to church, but it’s difficult. In fact, it can be downright tiring. I feel like my filter turns on the moment I walk through a church door, and remains there until I walk out. I’ve learned that just because the person at the front preaching has a title, or has gone to seminary, or has been preaching for years, doesn’t mean that what they’re saying is true, or accurate, or not containing some spiritually abusive line of thinking.

Sometimes just watching the spiritual abuse around me has been harder than experiencing the patterns myself. It’s particularly hard when I’ve watched it play out with people whom I previously respected in the abusive positions. I’ve found it much harder to let people gain my trust, men in particular (let me put in a disclaimer that it is not always men who are in the abusive positions. However, the vast majority of my experience does involve men in those positions.)

I know that my experience is not as painful as what others have experienced. I know people who can’t step inside a church because of the abuse they suffered at the hands of the church, can’t read their Bibles because of how certain verses and passages were used as weapons against them, can’t trust people because that trust has been betrayed too many times.

But I am also learning to recognize that the negative effects I am experiencing are real, as well. And that’s where I am right now–learning to recognize. I haven’t healed, no, because I think I only recently recognized that I had something to heal from. This post is written mostly in a matter-of-fact tone because that’s where I am still, learning to just let these be real facts, and not look at them as me being oversensitive, bitter, or “playing the victim.”

Often, the advice the church gives is cookie-cutter and doesn’t take people’s unique circumstances into account. We tell people to go to church when it’s more of a burden than a blessing. We tell people to read their Bibles without giving them the tools to read it well. We tell people to submit to authority that either hasn’t earned it or has abused it. We continue to spout Jeremiah 17:9 to say things it doesn’t mean.

Maybe it’s time to stop giving advice and start listening, both on a corporate level as well as an individual level. Even with myself, I’m having to learn to just listen to what my body, my emotions, my heart is telling me, and stop trying to tell myself how to just “get over it.”

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