Many of the things Christianity teaches are horrible. Darcy’s description of what was drilled into her as a child is harrowing. Some of you will be tempted to think that what she’s describing here is extreme, fringe, the teachings of a few outlying cults. But it’s not. It’s hidden behind prettier language, but it’s right there in the mainstream.
(Content note for spiritual and child abuse, rape.)
Even raised in a mostly-secular and decidedly non-church-going household, I absorbed it. I didn’t even have uber-religious friends until high school, but I still got the message.
From babyhood they said “You are a dirty sinner, there is nothing good in you, you are destined for hell because of your nature.”
So we, small humans, awoke to a world where toddlers need the sin and foolishness beaten out of them with switches and wooden spoons and belts.
They said “Only with Jesus are you worth anything.”
So as small children we begged Jesus to come into our hearts and make the dirty clean.
They said “Because of your sin, God cannot look at you, Jesus had to die. You killed him.”
So we mourned that we were so sinful that God couldn’t look at us without someone else standing in our place.
They said “You are human, a sinner, you cannot help it, only Jesus can make you worth anything.”
So we felt that we were worthless, that no matter how hard we try, we will never be good enough, while some kept trying anyway and some completely gave up.
They said “If you fall in love with a boy, you are committing emotional fornication.”
So we guarded our hearts lest sin defile us with merely a thought, and when our hearts betrayed us and we fell in love with a boy, we hated ourselves and knew we were worth less than before, we had lost a piece of our hearts we would never get back.
They said “Your body needs to be hidden because it is dangerous and if a man lusts after you because of your clothing or movements, it is your fault”.
So we covered our bodies from head to toe, swathed our femininity in fabric hoping no one would notice the curves, and spent years of our life worrying that we may cause a man to stumble and thus defile our own hearts and his.
They said “Boys only want one thing, so be sure you don’t do anything that makes them think they can take it from you. They can’t help it, this is how God made them, we must help them.”
So we lived in fear of men who God made pigs then placed the responsibility for their pig-ness on us.
They said “If you kiss a boy, you’re like a lolly-pop that’s been licked, a paper heart that’s been torn, you are worth less than before, and you’ve given away a part of you that you can never get back.”
So we spent our days afraid, terrified we would lose our worth and have nothing to give a future spouse.
They said “Virginity and purity give you value, don’t give that away.”
So whether virginity was taken forcefully or given lovingly, we were left worthless, used goods, and told no godly man would want us now.
Did you hear that? We are filthy sinners. We’re the reason God had to send his son to be sacrificed. Sex is dirty. We’re dirty if we have it and even dirtier if we enjoy it. Women are responsible for the Fall; we got humans kicked out of Paradise. Women are responsible for the violence men do, for the ways they use us, abuse us, discard us. We’re never good enough for God. We’re headed for Hell. It didn’t matter that my parents weren’t raising me to fear an angry God: those messages were all around me. All of that wormed its way into my developing brain, and I didn’t think to question it for years, even though there was no one stopping me. It took me a long time to confront some of those ideas. It was easy to decide that there was no such thing as eternal punishment, but those messages about sex and women and men were so pervasive it seemed they must be true. I’m still learning they are not.
It’s much more intense for those raised in religion. And if you haven’t seen the horror behind the pretty sentiments about “God so loved the world that he gave his only begotten son,” then you haven’t yet stopped to really think it through.
It’s terrible when it’s not wrapped up in pretty words. But it’s even more terrible when it is. Then, we don’t recognize it for what it is, and those messages sink deep, and take a lifetime to root out.