How can I tell my story? In under a few thousand words. Under the cloak of anonymity.
Can I sign off on my dream forever? Can I seal the deal and commit my days and nights of arduous work to never be used again except as an example?
My fate thus secured, yet again it would seem….he has won, he has controlled, and snatched my future from me.
What can a woman do? I know, in fact, that courts, churches and even law enforcement can scarce protect a woman from her husband. How do I know this, you ask? I will do my best to answer.
How can I erase the polluting of my innocence, the raping of my inmost being? And by the one I am supposed to trust? Forcing me to do things I cannot name, and thus searing in my mind the disgust that turns my stomach. Now free from this hell, am I condemned to solitude, a nun of sorts, but not of my own choosing?
And yet he triumphs, the bodies of my children bruised. “No broken bones? No emergency visits? I’m sorry, no, I cannot grant a protective order. He has custody. He is their father.” Thus the magistrate spoke.
Marital rape? How does one prove such a thing?
It happened, again and again and again. And my innocent children, God’s gift in the face of a man’s stealing. The law gives that thief the right to control their lives and through them, mine.
And as my dreams sail off into the mist, my life sinks into financial ruin. I work hard, but don’t earn enough to break even. Debts swallow my profit, and my life slips through my fingers like so much sand in an hourglass.
The God-given opportunity to break free from financial slavery, to provide for my children, and to fulfill God’s calling, slaughtered and dying in the street by the thief of my dreams, the murderer of my innocence.
But what of the church, you say?
Would that someone, a pastor, a leader, anyone with half a spiritual conscience, would awaken to see my story. They turned me aside, not one, not two, not even three, but five times. Five pastors at a major non-denominational charismatic church. They wondered, was I sane? Perhaps I made this all up.
So their lawyer helped him out, to finish what he started and rob me of any justice. Lying and cheating, scaring my lawyer into bullying me. Many lawyers and debts later, I am spent. Like the woman with the hemorrhage, I am sick in my soul, everything has been taken from me, and I am cast off like an impure woman.
If only the pastors and lawyer had been the only faithless, no, all my friends went their way. And I, alone, was left to pick up the pieces and rebuild a new life.
The patriarchy in this church prevented them from seeing me as human. Why would a minister, a seminary student, leave her husband? Why did she not submit, leave seminary, and stay home and care for her children as he demanded? Her body was his, wasn’t it?
Like so much cattle inseminated for profit, I should have rejoiced to bear his children. I recoiled at the thought of my humanity, created in and reflecting the divine image, reduced to a puddle in which someone can wash.
You see, at the end of the day, women’s rights are not about women, not about me, not about me being worthy or equal, or intelligent or capable of running a democracy and shaping the world; they are not about “roles” and such nonsensical ramblings. They are about God.
What sort of God reduces a human being to a prostitute to serve at her husband’s wish and command, without equal rights and protection under law, without the right to protect herself and her children from abuse? What sort of justice system allows a thief to steal again and again, granting parental rights to the rapist? While the victim pays the damages over and over?
What sort of God is this then…that saves only roughly one half of humanity and makes the other its servant?
At the end of the day what separates a Christian who claims this right and authority over one woman, from a Muslim who claims it over many? And the men who claim they will continue to exercise their domination in heaven as well?
Has Christianity gone mad? Indeed, how many Christians of many stripes today point to the Crusades and cry this was the low point in history, this is not deserving to be called Christianity, and yet turn and do not much better?
Well, I would say to you, if you have not been raped, o man, whoever you may be who judge, go offer yourself as a willing sacrifice, and then give the rapist your child as well, allow the rapist to continue using you day by day, cower in that person’s presence. And then arise, you will have begun to understand what it means for many to be a woman.
Let it sear your heart and mind, let the Holy Spirit awaken you, you cannot own us. We are fully human.
And the God you think you represent….may not be who you think. This is the same fierce God who gives birth through a spiritual birth to those who believe in Jesus, in this birthing from above (John 3), it is this God who pants like a woman in labor. This God whom you will never comprehend. And it is this God whom you oppose, whom you subject, whom you torture. Arise then, and face the God who will call you to account.
There may never be a human judge who hears my case, I may never see justice served this side of heaven. But I rest my case in the hands of the One who witnessed everything, the God-who sees (El-Roi).
I share my story for you who may not believe women are human, and for you who are living the hell I was in, and for those who together, men and women, fight for equality and justice for all.
May the God of justice be with you, may you feel the strength in your arms to take up a shield of truth, and may the joy of the love of God wash away the remembrance of the evil one.
May you, redeemed by the Son of God, shine brighter than the stars, secure in the knowledge that truth will indeed win out. And may fear never hold sway and silence you in the dark. We are the victorious, we are the triumphant.
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