So right off the top of my head, there are a half-dozen problems with this WAPO article by Ruth Everhart. To start, WAPO never misses an opportunity to complain about Christianity and to portray doctrine as oppressive and harmful to someone. My next thought was a bit tongue in cheek, but I thought, what culture of purity?? Surely she doesn’t mean the culture at large?
She does not, she says, “Church culture tends to be fixated on sexual purity year-round..” Honestly, I’ve never seen that in real life, on the ground. Purity has always been related to the righteousness of Christ, to purity of heart, purity of spirit, purity of redemption, purity of grace. Are we not all pretty much filthy rags, desperately needing the blood of Christ to wash us clean, to lead and guide us forward?
If I did not have the internet and had not encountered such silliness myself, I would think Ruth Everhart was just making things up. She is not, there are some odd cultians out there who really do obsess over sexual purity, almost as if we can just justify our own selves. There is quite a bit of bent, twisted, and misunderstood doctrine going on, too. Does that represent the bulk of the Body of Christ? No, not at all.
None of that really matters however, my point is not to argue doctrine or to declare Ruth Everhart to be right or wrong, my point is to lament some of the ugly words coming from people calling themselves Christians on the internet. Our words have tremendous power, our words matter, and absolutely no one has ever changed their mind or thinking because enough people claiming Jesus Christ’s name showed up to pour hatred all over them. Ever.
So Ruth Everhart was raped at gunpoint in a home invasion in her 20’s and it created a spiritual crisis, as in “what kind of a God would allow this kind of thing to happen?” As is common with rape victims she also felt ruined, damaged beyond repair, something made all the worse due to some of the doctrine she grew up with. Bad things just don’t happen to good girls. She’s written a book called “Ruined” and frequently speaks about recovering from sexual violence and shame.
So what is called for here? A bit of empathy, some grace, perhaps some charity and understanding. Maybe people don’t like the politics she is promoting, maybe her attacks on the church and the Virgin Mary rankle, maybe she is wrong six ways past Sunday. Okay, so what is a Christian to do? You either walk away….. or you set about attempting to win over hearts and minds.
What you do not do is call a rape victim a “certifiable loon, an emotionally disturbed reject, mentally ill, stupid, trashy.” I could go on and on, but in some 306 comments there are a whole lot of ugly words popping out at me, ugly words being poured all over this woman, as if perhaps we can just mock, ridicule, and shame her into compliance.
And every single one of those ugly words are a denial and rejection of the grace Jesus Christ has shown each one of US. We will answer for our own words, even on the internet. The last thing we want is to have those words read back to us and hear, “So this was my favored daughter, my annointed of Christ. What’s with all this abuse you dumped on her?”
“Let your speech always be gracious, seasoned with salt, so that you may know how you ought to answer each person.” –Colossians 4:6
“For judgment is without mercy to one who has shown no mercy. Mercy triumphs over judgment. ” 2:3
“Blessed are the merciful, for they shall receive mercy.– Matthew 5-7
“Let no corrupting talk come out of your mouths, but only such as is good for building up, as fits the occasion, that it may give grace to those who hear.” -Ephesians 4:29
“If possible, so far as it depends on you, live peaceably with all.”-Romans 12:18
I could go on and on but my point being, it’s a really important tenet of Christianity, spinkled all throughout the bible and if you miss the significance of our own words and the vital necessity of extending grace to others, you’ve missed the whole message.
Let’s assume Ruth Everhart is just plain wrong, wrong, wrong. If that were true, than it is also true that the poor behavior of Christians will now fuel the next 20 years of her ministry. You will never change anyone’s mind by simply confirming their own biases. All you’ve done is forfeited the entire argument and validated their belief system.